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The Laz Word by Larry Neild

Warren Bradley reveals plans for Mathew Street 2009 are to go on city council drawing board this week. And what about that La Machine, then?

Published on September 1st 2008.


The Laz Word by Larry Neild

NEXT year’s Mathew Street Festival will be as good and as big as this year’s event, City Council Leader Warren Bradley has assured Liverpool Confidential.

This huge mechanical ****** (it’s the city’s worst kept secret) will crawl around the city over four days in what is being billed as one of the sensations of culture year.

Talks about the August Bank Holiday event in 2009 will start as early as this week. Our firefighting political leader added.

“The Mathew Street Festival 2009 discussions will start in earnest this week. Liverpool City Council, who incidentally led on this year’s event, despite what is perceived, will again lead on next year’s festival.

“Like all of the events the city council is responsible for, we intend to deliver it as well as this year’s.”

So we should give it up for the city council and the Capital of Culture Company, paymasters of this year’s successful Mathew Street Festival.

Interruption: Excuse me Mr Laz, what’s with you – normally you don’t have a kind word to say about the CoC-Up mob?

Credit where credit’s due Interrupter. After last year’s fiasco, the city council did pull it off this year, but I haven’t done yet.

This year’s big street festival – organised by the city council - cost the Culture Company around £750,000, and I can’t help wondering who is going to pick up the tab next year when the cost could be closer to £1m.

The Culture Co, with its merry band of sponsors (more cash in kind than real dosh), will be no more, and whatever succeeds CoC will presumably have to find the funding for the event.

Turn the clock back to the 1990s when the Mathew Street Festival could easily have disappeared from the city.

It started out as an event led by the hard-working team at Cavern City Tours, but it simply grew and grew and the city council rescued it. Of course, Cavern City Tours are still very much on the scene, but I doubt it could stage a re-takeover without massive public cash.

I remember a plea going out at the time to the owners of bars, restaurants and hotels to dig into their pockets, but the whip-round idea never took off.

Surprising, given the businesses that rake it in during the August event.

A pointer to next year came in what appeared to be a coded message from Warren Bradley, leader of the city council. He hailed this year’s festival as the biggest and best ever, but said he wanted businesses to jump on board for the 2009 festival.

Hmm. Is that a shot across the bow to the business community in Liverpool: pay up or risk losing it? With the changing fortunes of Liverpool, business rents have rocketed, meaning the landowners and property tycoons are raking it in. It’s a pity they cannot be made to chip in.

While it is reassuring to hear Warren Bradley say talks will start within days about 2009, we should sort out quickly who is going to pick up the tab. Will it be hard pressed taxpayers? Will it be the big wealthy quangos? Or are the skinflint businesses reluctant to cough up?

That £750k paid this year will be seen as peanuts compared to the cost of this weekend to bring La Machine to the streets of Liverpool. This huge mechanical ****** (it’s the city’s worst kept secret) will crawl around the city over four days in what is being billed as one of the sensations of Culture year. The big issue will be the cost – is it worth paying £1.8m for a short-term event? I pondered over this and feel, in our culture year, we should be allowed one big indulgence, something we would never expect to see in our wildest dreams, and will probably never see the likes of again.

If La Machine lives up to its expectations it will be one of the most unforgettable events of 08. If it hasn't got the requisite legs, however, then maybe we’ll hire a special kind of spin doctor to sort the tangled web out.

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Nid from IraqSeptember 1st 2008.

My friend Tara's aunt Tula says you have given the game away now by mentioning a superhero. Clearly it will be a Giant Bat. It can hang upside-down and p**s on the crowd, a bit like the Culture Company.

Reindeer TimesSeptember 1st 2008.

was printed in the German Democratic Republic to undermine western decadent society!

Whatever happened to...?September 1st 2008.

It wasn't called the Mathew Street Festival then. It was the Jung Festival, and I recall Jayne Casey smeared from head to foot in Birds Custard, there was a skip full of it in the street, straddling a large banana and singing "I've written a letter to Daddy." It just wouldn't happen these days. OK?

Aunt TulaSeptember 1st 2008.

Well a fly would be useful for lunchbreak.

Jeannie OSeptember 1st 2008.

The first Matthew Street festival with Deaf School on Sunday 6th June 1976 was, actually, my wedding reception. Well, that's what Peter told me! The cad! :-) Absolutely as apples. J x

WappingSeptember 1st 2008.

Hey Mathew, I remember those days well. Deaf School playing on an open air stage f'rinstance. The "Liverpool School" was meant to be more like a school of fish than an education establishment. "No Dope No Divvies No Laughing". I don't think anyone involved now has a clue about the real cultural significance of Mathew Street.

Miss Kit-kaSeptember 1st 2008.

Yes, and remember the time he interviewed Pete Burns in his newswpaper, the Raindeer Times? Yellow ink on white paper. Tremendous.

Ron with The WindSeptember 1st 2008.

If only Crown Prince Harpik could reinstate the original Mathew Street Festival, perhaps with a showing of his film 'The East is Red'?

Lord StreetSeptember 1st 2008.

For it to be better than this year's, Bradley had better make sure that the Queensway Tunnel is open so that tasteful, sober, non-vomiting local taxpayers can escape the city centre to the elysian fields of The Dark Side and its Food Festival.

Eleanor RigsbySeptember 1st 2008.

I'm still sure it's going to be a giant Liver Bird crawling across the city. You can tell by the prep work it is going to be some flying object.

Buzz AldrinSeptember 1st 2008.

I take it, by superhero, that you mean Warren Bradley? Shouldn't that be a giant brad, in that case?

Egon TozstSeptember 1st 2008.

Culture and Mathew Street. This Council (and its Kulturkampf Company) knows nothing about either of them. Has Larry also considered that adding to the costs in future, the useless and overpaid dolts recruited from elsewhere to the Culture Company will be entitled to continued employment by the Council on the same salaries after 2008?

Rusty SpikeSeptember 1st 2008.

Yes indeed there was life in Mathew Street before the Mat-Fest - as it surely will soon be dubbed by a bore-ass marketing or PR duffer, although most sensible, sober city folk who worked in insurance, shipping or cake shops wouldn't even have the nerve to peek down the alley in the 1970s and even the early 1980s. It was a dark and brooding place where bats hung out and the Grapes was a grimy drinking den (nothing changes though) at the end of beyond; the tall canyons of the warehouses putting the fear of Lucifer up those with claustrophobia or piles. But you know there actually was a Beatles Museum - embryonic, sparse and largely ignored, hence its closure - in Mathew Street long afore the Fab Four acolytes padded forth from their semis and safe suburban living to claim the cobbles for their own. It was above what is now Flanagan's and could be accessed up a staircase adjacent to the Armadillo tea rooms (all hail Martin Cooper). Indeed, as well as Eric's etc. there has always been much life in Mathew Street - Peter O'Halligan springs to mind et al. Oh, and how come around the risibly called Mathew Street Quarter there is no commemoration or 'mock up' of the Iron Door club which was for many who spurned Cuban heels far superior to the Cavern which was usually full of school kids sagging off for the lunchtime sessions. The 'Door' was far more edgy and dangerous, and the all night sessions memorable. The Cavern might well have been grand for coke (the real thing with gas, playmates) but in the Door it was 'draw'.....heh, heh...

DigSeptember 1st 2008.

May I suggest a Scouse Stage next year?Liverpool bands all day every day. There's so much talent to invite from the last 40 or so years it wouldn't be difficult to fill the slots. I'm sure if enough people read this article they would like to suggest a band or 2. People of LC let us make a Scouse Stage happen!!!

Liverpool ConfidentialSeptember 1st 2008.

Strange that we were all just talking about that!

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