In the six years that Bido Lito! has been in publication, we’ve seen some of our favourite and most innovative venues and creative spaces deliver their swan song, from The Kazimier and the Contemporary Urban Centre to MelloMello and Static Gallery. But for those we’ve lost, there are plenty of murmurations of other venues popping up waiting to be found, with the likes of Maguire’s Pizza Bar, 24 Kitchen Street and Buyer’s Club all coming to the fore in the past year, while some golden oldies like The Olympia and Grand Central Dome are getting a new lease of life. Some of the city’s biggest musical events have migrated into these spaces, with Sound City relocating to Bramley Moore Dock in 2015, and Liverpool Music Week hosting its 2016 Closing Party in venues dotted around the north docklands. With some of the keenest eyes in the concrete jungle, photographers John Johnson, Keith Ainsworth and Robin Clewley to share some of their images, as well as their thoughts, on Liverpool’s ever-changing venuescape.
See the full gallery here.
"It's always great to see progress within the city’s musical landscape. Although the cultural heartbeat was torn out of the city centre the week we lost both The Kazimier and Cream, leaving a hole that has yet to be truly filled, I think a corner has been turned recently with many of the new venues popping up both to the North and South of the city centre showing real potential, especially the wonderful work happening down at The Invisible Wind Factory."
"I still think we lack a centrally located, medium sized venue to really compete when bands touring from further afield who may have to make the choice between playing Liverpool or Manchester. Could this be about to change with the recent news of the planned regeneration of Lime Street The Forum? Either way I firmly believe that 2017 will be a vintage year for the Liverpool music scene both in terms of artists breaking out nationally and internationally and for the spaces in which they play."
"There are venues that we all enjoy visiting. There are venues that we go to meet friends. Then things change and everyone bemoans the fact. But it's worth pointing out that this is all fluid. I first took photos in the O2 Academy when it was the Carling Academy. One of the first gigs I covered for Bido Lito! was in The Masque. That's now the Arts Club. I shot a free gig in Bumper in 2010. The banner in the background reminds me it was for Liverpool Music Week. This year the same event brought American artists to some of Liverpool's largest venues."
"The Futurist was one of those grand Liverpool buildings we took for granted. It had been closed for a number of years with various plans to renovate it. There is a great photograph of it from the 1930s. It is all gleaming white with a newsstand to one side. I myself saw the Clint Eastwood film Firefox there. But it soon stopped showing films and now all that remains is a huge hole in the ground."
"The Kazimier existed as quite a grotty club before it was renamed the Kazimier. The people who made it the Kaz brought that vibe to the place. From the bands they booked, to the way it was run, to the barman who gave me a free can of lager when I ran out of money. But now that spirit is part of the Invisible Wind Factory. Remember the great venues of the past but it could be that your new favourite venue is opening next week."
"My first assignment for Bido Lito! was photographing the Graduale Nobili choir fresh from touring with Bjork at Static Gallery back in 2011. Static Gallery was one of many small independent venues in Liverpool and in the last five years I have seen the type venues I shoot in not disappear, but more disperse."
"There are still plenty of small venues in the city centre, but now they're all over the city, dotted around the ever changing city gig map from Buyers Club to 24 Kitchen Street and back up to Maguire's Pizza Bar. The disappearance of Wolstenholme Square as a creative hub is always going to hit hard but there's some incredible venues emerging and old ones taking on new forms like EBGBS."
"My favourite venues have always been the DIY and Independent venues across the city, Wolstenholme Creative Space, Athena House, Drop the Dumbells, Maguire’s, Evil Eye and that jaunty upstairs room in the Pilgrim, you can get in people’s faces, right in the middle of it and nobody minds, for me that's what I love about gig photography."