As the first LIMF 2016 event explores the punk movement’s legacy, Getintothis’ Cath Bore reflects on Liverpool’s enduring interest in events from forty years ago.
The Eric’s to Evol strand of this year’s Liverpool International Music Festival is an exploration of countercultures within Merseyside spanning over the past four decades. The original Eric’s Club in Liverpool in the days of 1970s punk spawned a plethora of local groups – The Mighty Wah!, Teardrop Explodes, OMD and the like – most of whom who popped up on Top Of The Pops a couple of years later.
The panel at District tonight was the first of three Eric’s to Evol events this week. It comprised musician and writer John Robb, music journalist Paul du Noyer, Wah!’s singer and songwriter Pete Wylie, Penetration’s Pauline Murray, Big In Japan/Pink Military’s Jayne Casey and Bido Lito magazine publisher/International Festival of Psychedelia director Craig Pennington, questioning whether the punk movement, with its notions of tearing up the rule book, has a lasting legacy.
Tonight had all the feel of a family affair, everyone in District knew each other, had done for decades. In the ladies toilets, a packet of Tena Lady incontinence pads for weak bladders by the sink raised a ripple of giggles.
“How old do they think we are?” laughed one woman, “Not very punk, is it?”
That sparked off a debate, right there in the loos. Very punk in itself.
There’s much reminiscing at District this evening, the panel, chaired by Eric’s to Evol curator Marc Jones, sharing war stories and memories of going to punk gigs as kids, but talk thankfully moved swiftly on to punk’s legacy.
“The powers that be clamped down on punk,“ said Pauline Murray. But, “afterwards and since I’ve been doing my own thing.“ And that, she attributes to the punk movement.
Craig Pennington was born in 1983, after Eric’s had shut its doors. “This is a history lesson to me in many ways,“ he said after hearing the panel speak about their experiences. He talked about the two different hats he wears, as publisher and festival director. “Punk has its mucky paws all over it…coming back to Liverpool and starting a self-funded music magazine.”
John Robb raised the issue of the punk generation lording it over those younger, the feeling that our generation was better, ner ner ner ner ner…
And he had a point. In the last twelve years in Liverpool there has been a musical, exhibition in a museum, books published, articles from punters and musicians alike both online and in print examining Eric’s from every angle. This summer, even Liverpool Biennial carries related content, via Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey’s film Dream English Kid, inspired by seeing Joy Division play in 1979, aged 15.
Does the city carry an over affection for the past?
Pete Wylie argued no, it shouldn’t be viewed as such, and instead the younger need to see the original punk experience as “encouraging, inspiring, offering another way”.
Pennington agreed, reckoning today’s youth needs to say “fuck it, create our own future,” citing the International Festival of Psychedelia as a prime example of the punk ethic in practice. No bands performing are on a major label, it receives little national press support, and most engagement is fan and internet based.
He admitted there is still much to do, the ‘huge gender imbalance’ in music journalism being a prime example. When Pauline Murray spoke of female punk musicians back in the day not showing their sexuality and femininity being a positive thing, it felt a little dated to this writer, and the panel bigged up Patti Smith in part for her androgyny. Modern feminist thinking means women should be able to dress and express their sexuality exactly how they want, and still be taken seriously. In 2016, decision makers can wear pretty frocks and do their hair nice, should they wish to.
The panel returned to swapping stories of punk shows, how many times they saw the Sex Pistols – Pauline Murray wins, at six – and fair enough.
Tonight, a pleasant enough stroll along memory lane, rose tinted specs intact. It’s a family gathering, after all.
Photos by Getintothis‘ Christopher Flack