The Sound of Britain
Music is woven into Liverpool’s daily culture. Whether it’s 50 years since Sgt Pepper, or excited, hurried tweets after a gig from a new band at the Shipping Forecast or Kazimier Garden we love every note of music here. It’s Liverpool talked to Peter Guy, Editor of the city’s Getintothis music blog, who also organise the annual GIT (Getintothis) music awards, to explain why the British Music Experience tells the story of music like nowhere else.
As someone who spends a lot of his time living and breathing music, Peter Guy has been to his fair share of music exhibitions. The problem, he says, quite often is that it can be a little stale. “Music is embedded in your head and sometimes you can walk into this cultural space and it’s just not got that same passion”.
The British Music Experience he says, is different. A fascinating insight, it’s designed in such a way that he says the story of music in Britain just “unravels in front of you”. And even though the exhibits may feature bands you’ve seen before, stories you know and sounds as familiar as a nursery rhyme it feels “genuinely fresh”.
What was originally a temporary exhibition at the O2 in London, the British Music Experience now has a permanent home in the former first-class lounge at Liverpool’s Cunard Building. There are over 600 pieces of pop memorabilia and interactive experiences. There’s skiffle, rock and roll, pop, Britpop, glam and psychedelia. Much of the narrative of music, of course, unfolded on Merseyside, but it’s a journey into the whole of the country’s deep love affair with sound.
It is incredible, says Pete, to see some things that are part of the fabric of the history of music in Britain up close. “Adam Ant’s Prince Charming get up is amazing, I used to dance around the living room when I was little to that, and raid the dressing up box (wanting to be Prince Charming), so to see it in front of you is quite something. David Bowie’s crocheted leg warmers make you think he must have had legs like pipe cleaners. The outfits from Spice World and Geri’s Union Flag dress. It’s a staggering array of stuff”.
It isn’t simply the iconic that catches the eye. Fanzines from the psychedelic era, the graffiti on No.3 Savile Row, site of The Beatles last ever live performance; it’s the stuff of the fans, of those, like him, who love music.
“I’ve never done anything musically, and the blog does feel DIY. I’m still just a massive fan at the end of the day. And when you see it in a museum it can feel quite dry. But here there’s a genuine love, a certain majesty and an enthusiasm that comes from fandom”.
The reason for that, he believes, is its curator, Kevin McManus who’s the producer of the UNESCO City of Music. Kevin is well known across Liverpool along with his passion for music. He was also a journalist for NME, the FACE and ID before he moved into music management.
“He gets what music is all about”, says Pete.
And that’s why, when you look at the BME, it isn’t just the gloss from the history of music, it emphasises its cultural importance, adds, Pete.
“There’s the real grime and nastiness of rock and roll, it’s real story. So things happening with the government and police when it came to punk, there’s a social and political backdrop”.
Getintothis has just announced the 12 artists for 2017’s GIT (Getintothis) Award, a music prize celebrating and championing the best of new Merseyside music. Past GIT winners have included Forest Swords, Bill Ryder-Jones and Baltic Fleet. The 2017 shortlisted nominees include The Vryll Society, Louis Berry, The Coral, Immix Ensemble, She Drew the Gun and OHMS (full list here).
With the vibrancy of the city’s music scene right now, is Liverpool the perfect place for this exhibition?
“It’s a good city to be in historically. Liverpool is one of the homes of British music but there are a lot of cities where the music scene is vital, like Glasgow. Liverpool is a city of music lovers and of music so the exhibition is going to be received really enthusiastically”.
Book tickets and see more at www.britishmusicexperience.com