With a new album set for release Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band were on top form at Liverpool’s Invisible Wind Factory, Getintothis’ Kevin Barrett was on hand to take it all in.
Back in 1992 a beautifully poignant documentary was released by French TV company Noe Productions shining a spotlight on Liverpool’s music scene. Titled You’ll Never Walk Alone, the makers spent a week in the city following a group of local musicians as they went about their day to day lives.
Ian McCulloch, Edgar Jones, and Paul Fitzgerald made up the lead players, along with The Pale Fountains & Shack icons, brothers Mick & John Head.
The documentary is compelling viewing, made during the post-Thatcher era, Liverpool at the time was wholly on its knees. Imposed poverty had taken a stranglehold over much of the region. With the raw footage showcasing the city’s decay, and as we now know, Thatcher’s managed decline.
Yet it provided an insightful and fascinating viewpoint into the people who shaped and influenced the key creative outlet to the city’s youth.
The prominent factor in the narrative was the quality of music coming out of the region at the time.
As deprived as the city was it produced music that will go down in folklore. Timeless sounds that have laid the foundations for many of today’s artists and bands to emulate.
So what’s the relevance here?
— Dave (@Kop206Ultra) December 1, 2019
Just a couple of weeks ago Invisible Wind Factory entertained a very different kind of gathering. Jeremy Corbyn was in town to spread the word his election campaign in a bid to end modern day austerity, and bring hope to people who’s life is lived on the wrong side of the breadline.
Although the landscape of the city has dramatically improved since 1992, there are still two glaring similarities. Liverpool as a city is still being fucked over by an oppressive establishment driven by this toxic Tory regime.
And secondly, and more relating to tonights proceedings, this city is still leading the way in producing incredible music and musicians to rival anywhere.
Mick Head has been tucked away for the past months at Bill Ryders-Jones’ studio in West Kirby. Two of Liverpool’s great songwriting sons working together to create Head’s new album New Brighton Rock. Equivocal notes on the album’s progress have been scribbled on paper plates then teased to Twitter.
Tonight, Invisible Wind Factory was to play host for the first outing of songs from the album.
In what now looks to be an more stripped back, yet ever-evolving Red Elastic Band, Head has again enlisted assistance from three members of Liverpool’s top prospects The Peach Fuzz in Nathaniel Cummings, and Phil & Danny Murphy.
Head takes centre stage to mass adulation, rumours of poor ticket sales were just that, as this huge old shipping warehouse was now near on full for an earlier than usual start.
There’s an apprehension in Head’s initial demeanour as he sheepishly thanks everyone for coming, a telling nervousness that’s not been evident in previous outings, even assuring the crowd that ‘everything will be alright’.
Opening with Waterpistol’s Stranger before letting us have a first taste of the the new stuff, Grace and Eddie is first up, followed by The Next Day. On first listen the songs feel a lot more intimate than what we found on Adios Senior Pussycut. A softer more delicate opening appears risky given the vast space to fill in this industrial cathedral, and the bated crowd anticipation we tend to see at a Mick Head gig.
Reach is followed by Picasso, before a noticeable uplift in gears has taken course as the majority of the audience have now joined in the song for Hazy and Natalies Party.
Head promised a few surprises with this set, in Al’s Vacation, Cup of Tea, Neighbours and Up we certainly got them.
With a back catalogue as extensive as his he could play a different gig each night of a week and still not play the same song twice. His input into music and songwriting from Pale Fountains beginnings to current day has been completely astounding.
We’ve spoken before about cult like status, and the admiration from within this city. But you truly have to see and experience one of these gigs to understand it. Meant To Be is spine-tingling, and Martin Smith taking to the stage on trumpet duty is just fantastic.
An unscheduled encore of Newby Street & Comedy provide a beautiful moment, and lasting memories for all in here.
In what has been a difficult week in news for this great city, its people will always come together find solace in their own, a city full of life, laughter, love, and song.
— Michael Jones (@jonesmi1972) December 1, 2019
Anthemic to an extent, the music of Michael Head goes beyond being just a musical outlet for the people of Liverpool, it means so much more. As we exit we overhear a conversation of one person saying they needed to get that out of their system, that’s what Head’s gigs do to his fans, it goes beyond just the music, it’s a fix to many.
In a repeat of the 2017’s Michael Head and The Red Elastic Band gig in this venue we are again graced with Psycho Comedy on support. As a band they sound so much more refined. Not one to be easily pigeonholed they bring a rousing fusion of spoken word, post punk and new wave.
Shaun Powell on lead is great viewing, a intriguing character who leaves everything on the stage.
Latest single Pick Me Up, Performance Area 1 and the Bunnymen’esq I am the Silver Screen provide the set highlights.
Images by Getintothis’ Kevin Barrett