The new Mersey Beat: Thousand flock to Liverpool's Sefton Park for four-day music festival
Sunday 25 August 2013
With tower blocks peeping above the tree line, Liverpool's Sefton Park is just a stroll from Penny Lane and a city steeped in a history of poverty and division.
But rich and poor came together yesterday for a party in the park as the birthplace of the Beatles again took centre stage for the first Liverpool International Music Festival.
The city that has produced the most No 1 singles in the world was at one stage nearly written off by Margaret Thatcher's Government.
Locals now speak of those as "dark days" for Liverpool with Toxteth in flames and Downing Street in open warfare with Militant and Derek Hatton.
But this month a city now brimming with hope and promise is hosting UK's biggest urban festival as a platform to launch an even bigger event next year. In a city where every young Scouser is brought up to recite the hallowed names of John, Paul, George and Ringo there has been a Fab Four tribute act around nearly every corner.
And Sefton Park is but five minutes walk from Beatles landmarks such as John Lennon's house, Penny Lane, and the playing fields said to have inspired Strawberry Fields.
But Liverpool is a cultural centre which prides itself on never standing still and this month the crowds have had its hands in the air for pop, rock, indie, reggae, world, classical – and just about everything else in between.
A massive investment from local government and a genuine desire to celebrate Liverpool's relationship with music and create a new generation of musicians has helped. Liverpool fulfil its latest ambition as a City of Culture.
As well as performances by chart toppers such as JLS and Little Mix the weekend saw the first gig yesterday in the UK tour of the Marley brothers - allowing Merseyside to upstage the Notting Hill Festival.
The new Festival has its roots in the city's biggest music event, the Matthew Street Music Festival. But now the spectacle has gone global.
Thousands flocked to Sefton Park to enjoy one of the highlights of the month - four days of free live music over the bank holiday which continues tomorrow.
Steven and Julian Marley were headlining the World Music Stage to underline the city's links with sounds from around the world.
While sixties Mersey beat saw a new generation of working class heroes propelled up the pop charts it was a mainly a white revolution.
Although the celebrates the past, it also shows Liverpool's increasingly diverse population coming together to encourage a new generation of talent for whom names like Punjabi Hit Squad may strike more of a chord than Sergeant Pepper.
Adam Mailey, 29, from the Wirral, said: "It is a change from Matthew Street. I've been to Glastonbury a few times. This is not as big but there's more of a family atmosphere.
"I'm 29 and I was brought up with the Beatles. It is part of Liverpool's culture and you can't get away from it even if you wanted to.
"But this has always been a cosmopolitan city so here we are emphasising that.
"Not far from here are some of the most deprived areas of Liverpool - and some of the richest. So it's getting everyone together."
Waitress and Bob Marley fan Kavita Mohan, 24, who lives in Anfield but comes from the West Indies, said: "I think it's great.
"The main thing is it is free and bringing all the people out to socialise.
"I'm not really a Beatles fan because I grew up in Trinidad so I'm mainly here to see the Marleys.
"To me, it shows how multicultural we've become. It brings every single person out of all races and everyone is getting along.
"I grew up with Bob Marley's music so it's great to see it passed on to a new generation."
Her mother Gail, a local pastor, came straight from church to enjoy the afternoon with her extended family who have called Liverpool their home for more than a decade.
She said: "I really only like gospel music now but I do like reggae. But I'm talking old school - like Peter Tosh."
Yesterday's crowd also saw mixed race couples and families with children out in force. One festival goer said: "It's hard to work out who's white and who isn't". As someone once said: Imagine...
- 1 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
- 5 Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country
Scottish independence: Scots of Corby take matters into their own hands in mock referendum - and deliver overwhelming verdict
Protesters fight to save Arturo, the polar bear sweltering in baking hot zoo
Fry ‘criticises Operation Yewtree in dinner party rant’ calling for tougher laws to deter false sex abuse allegations
Supermoon 2014 in pictures: Moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Saharan remains may be evidence of first race war, 13,000 years ago
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Emergency data law: David Cameron plots to bring back snoopers’ charter
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action
£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software En...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software Tea...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Sales Executive - Ce...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Graduate Java / C++ ...