As the pioneering Liverpool DJ returns with a two-hour free set at Liverpool’s Pier Head, Getintothis’ Sarah Carlin talks to the man himself.
At The Very Big After Party on 4 July, electro-funk and disco aficionado, Haçienda stalwart and New Brighton native DJ Greg Wilson will take to the stage for a free two-hour gig at the Pier Head.
This is all part of Transatlantic175, a weekend long celebration of nearly two centuries of transatlantic passenger travel. Curated by Red or Dead designer Wayne Hemingway and organised by Liverpool City Council, it will immerse visitors in the best bits of UK and American culture past and present – think classic cars, pop-up charleston-ing, vintage attire and craft beers.
Wilson was brought in by Hemingway to highlight the musical links between Liverpool and America and the reasons for making this choice are obvious.
Since first picking up his decks in 1975, Wilson has established himself as one of the elder statesmen of the UK scene. A pioneer of mixing, he was the first ‘dance music’ specialist hired by the epoch-making Haçienda and was even the first DJ to mix live on television. In 1983, he was voted Blues & Soul magazine’s top DJ in the North. Instrumental in promoting the new electronic, post-disco records coming out of New York, he’s widely recognised as having been one of the main conduits getting black music to a wider audience during the 80s. So what can we expect from the man who even taught a young Fatboy Slim how to scratch?
Greg explains: “While all of us probably know the story of the Cunard Yanks bringing new sounds to the city as they came off the ships, what I want to do on the 4th of July is dig a little deeper.”
Discussing his upcoming set, Wilson says: “With major influence from the Cunard Yanks and the GI’s based at nearby Burtonwood airbase, to more recent hip hop, house and techno directions, black American music has had a huge impact on Liverpool’s cultural identity – far more than people might imagine. T175 enables us to shine a light on this legacy. The fact that, having drunk in its inspiration, Liverpool was then able to reflect the cultural mirror back on America is testimony to the city’s status as one of the great creative centres of the world.
“But as well as celebrating this history, our main objective is to make the most of this iconic setting and just have a great time. With the music spanning the generations, all are invited to Liverpool’s biggest ever disco get down. Suffice to say it’s going to be a party of such magnitude that even the liver birds might climb down and join us on the dancefloor.”
And as if that isn’t enough, 4 July will also see the more recent phenomenon of shipmania return to the city. While it’s normally just bleary-eyed party-goers making their way home at the end of a gig, this one will have a much more regal figure making an exit. Once the party is over, the Queen Mary 2 will leave the Mersey, re-creating Cunard’s maiden journey from 1840.