The iconic Mathew Street haunt Eric’s is to reopen it’s doors after 31 years. It really shouldn’t.
Echo and the Bunnymen, Siouxsie Sioux, OMD, Pete Burns, Teardrop Explodes, Deaf School, Bill Drummond…
All names cemented in pop culture and united by one scene, one club – Eric’s. The legendary Liverpool club started by Roger Eagle has rightly earned it’s place in music history.
Yesterday, it was announced that after 31 years it is to reopen later this year. Oh, for shame.
If ever there was a club which was the antithesis of a heritage centre, synonymous with kicking against tradition while trading on punk radicalism it was Eric’s.
Now, the ‘new Eric’s’ (as it’s bound to be known) has the potential of slipping into the murky waters of those occupied by the ‘new Cavern‘ – a tourist centre happy to make a quick buck, eager to showcase cover bands, nostalgia acts and Battle of the Bands – a venue which has in the past committed the lowest of the low by asking musicians to ‘pay to play’.
Of course, we’re not suggesting that the new Eric’s will – or has set out to be – a modern equivalent of the new Cavern. But this is, by many, how it will be initially perceived.
Take comfort that the opening quotes from the new Eric’s leading men are positive.
Musical director Ethan Allen says the new Eric’s will lead the charge, focusing on new talent from far and wide.
He said: ‘We aim to attract the best up and coming acts, signed and unsigned from the local area and further afield.‘
Meanwhile, owner and managing director John Lynch adds: ‘Eric’s is part of Liverpool’s musical heritage and we want to return it to its former glory.
‘It’s being recreated in the image of the original venue but we’ll have to bring certain things up to date, the venue will have air conditioning and they’ll be showers for the dressing rooms.
‘Jut like the old Eric’s we too want to provide a stage for talented local bands so Eric’s can become part of their musical history.
It’s an admirable, if almost impossible, task.
For the new Eric’s, regardless of who they attract, will be what it says on the tin – a replica of that old iconic club.
Similarly to ‘the new’ Cavern – or the much maligned Manchester club Factory (it too trading on former glories as the Peter Hook-owned club churns out Joy Division tribute shows and knock-off indie schlock) it’s hard to see any serious Liverpool band actually wanting to make a name for themselves at a club trading on spirit of the passed.
Why play at the new Eric’s when Liverpool’s independent scene already has a club, in the shape of The Kazimier, carving its own indelible stamp on the music map.
Getintothis has long championed it’s cultural significance – but it’s uber-cool brand refuses to wane, quite the opposite, as more music lovers have discovered it’s delights through recent excursions into hip hop, it’s record label and the house band playing outside it’s usual surrounds.
Musician and runner of popular Liverpool club night Free Rock and Roll, Peter Bentham concurs: ‘We don’t need a new Eric’s because we already have a new Eric’s with The Kazimier and Mello Mello. F*ck the past. Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.‘
But it’s not just the nostalgia which will provide a sticking point… Location, location, location.
If ever there was a worse place for the new Eric’s it’s Mathew Street. What was once a hub for creativity and youthful effervescence, is now the home for piss-ups, punch-ups, and hen parties. Can’t really see Outfit playing, can you?
Anyway, let’s look on the bright side – Liverpool will have a new club, possibly a new scene for young bands to ply their trade and it’ll have new showers. I hear on the grapevine there’s this great new band called The Stranglers set to open…
Deaf School: Hi Jo Hi