Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

29th August 2012

There’s a ley line runs down Mathew Street… no, wait – it’s a stream of urine
Posted by at 7.48pm | Liverpool | No responses

Last year, as the August Bank Holiday weekend approached, I asked a work colleague if he was attending the Mathew Street Festival.

“No,” came the reply, “too many dickheads.”

I remembered that conversation as I read today’s news about the Mathew Street Festival, Liverpool’s rollicking bank holiday extravaganza of tribute bands and public drunkenness.

There is a £400,000 funding shortfall for next year’s festival, and the event could be dramatically scaled back. Speculation is rife that the outdoor stages will be dropped, with the festival returning to something resembling its original format, focusing on bands performing in bars and other indoor venues.

Frankly, a rethink of the event is long overdue. The last time I went was in 2010 and, although the music was OK, the atmosphere was odd. It was quite clear that many people were there strictly to consume as much alcohol as possible. Although there were, in theory, alcohol-free zones and a ban on glass bottles, neither were enforced, and I saw a gang of scallies gulping down bottles of Carlsberg and classy women passing a wine bottle around. By around 3pm there were already plenty of people staggering around in a paralytic state.

Back to this year: I was in town doing some shopping on Saturday afternoon and I saw a large group of lads lugging three crates of lager through the streets in preparation for the festival. It was at that moment that I resolved to spend the Bank Holiday weekend as far away from Liverpool City Centre. That’s even before we get to the chaotic public transport arrangements – Merseyrail is surely the only train company in history who would respond to special event crowds by running fewer trains.

It’s hard to disagree with Frank McKenna of Downtown Liverpool in Business who called the event “a glorified p***-up that does not showcase the best of the city.”

This really is a case where smaller is better. Take the event back to its roots – a celebration of Merseybeat music that the whole family can enjoy, rather than an excuse to emulate the decadence of ancient Rome. Hell, if they do that I might even go next year.