Back in December of last year, my girlfriend and I made the familiar journey from Chester railway station to Liverpool’s James Street stop. There have been plenty of articles on Liverpool, but I’ve discovered that the city holds too many different aspects to ever become old news.
As mentioned in my first ever The Lighter Journal article, I have been a giant Beatles fan for as long as I can remember. I’ve recently gotten my girlfriend back into them, and we booked to go see the world’s greatest tribute act, ‘the Bootleg Beatles’, at the Royal Philharmonic. Because we were not going to be back in time for a late train to Chester, we decided to book a hotel for a few nights – to enjoy as much as we can of what Liverpool has to offer.
Our hotel room was absolutely perfect for the price we paid. The view overlooked the Mersey, a short walk away from the docks. I had the curtains open from dusk until dawn to see the natural light glint off the water.
I had to take my lighter picture there, with one of the standard Poundland lighters from the Hailsham article. As it was close to Christmas, the docked boats had been decked out in Christmas lights, which twinkled like ground-stars at night. Even the graffiti in our bathroom was charming, if entirely pretentious…
After dressing up for the gig, we made our way to L1, which was unsurprisingly packed with families who had the same idea as us. Eventually we managed to get a table in Wagamama, where I enjoyed some squid. We had to fill ourselves up, ready for the brisk walk to the Philharmonic, which took longer than I anticipated. But even after hurrying through the winding streets (which my girlfriend knew by heart, having studied English and Creative Writing at LJMU) we still arrived at the crumbling, hulking venue earlier than anticipated.
As always with these gigs, we were amongst the youngest present, along with some mopey teenagers and blissfully oblivious children, dragged by their parents to see a tribute to a band whose music is not entirely relevant to the youth of today.
We sat in our seats, situated in the middle of the hall, and I took the chance while it was relatively empty to stare at the ceiling and just how flaky the off-white walls looked. Had it ever been repainted since being built? No photography or filming of any kind was permitted during the show, but I can tell you it was worth every penny we spent on those tickets.
I had already seen the Bootleg Beatles back in 2012 at the Brighton Dome, but seeing them in what was technically their hometown was something else entirely. As always, the John Lennon was freakishly amazing; Adam Hastings does a brilliant job with his mannerisms, including a particular moment where he told everyone to throw up peace signs, and I jokingly gave him the two-fingered salute to which he said ‘the wrong way round, madam’. All in all, the music was spot on and it was brilliant to hear so many of my Beatles favourites played by people who could have honestly been the original musicians themselves. If you’re going to see any Beatles tribute act, go to see the Bootleg Beatles.
Afterwards, we made our way back through a relatively deserted Liverpool. It was spooky, but I took a chance to capture the once-bustling streets with my iPhone. For once, walking down various alleyways, I felt safe, and my paranoia dripped away. I found myself skipping down the darkened lanes, stopping to snap an old ad or make my girlfriend pose for my delight.
Another night, I mentioned wanting to see the newly-added Beatles statues at the docks. Time melted away until it was in the early hours of the dark morning, and once again we found ourselves alone in Liverpool, staring out at the pitch-black Mersey. The statues stood tall and scary, like real walking figures. Going around the docks in the early hours with my girlfriend, completely undisturbed by other people, is a memory I will take with me to the grave.
As always, I was depressed to leave the cultural hub and head back to picturesque Chester. I think I speak for everyone local when I say the Christmas songs being busked were a welcome change from the same twangy ‘Nowhere Man’ performance. I will be back as soon as I can. I have to be back as soon as I can…
Editor: Floss Hafter-Smith