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Leona Lewis at the Liverpool MOBO launch (photo: Dave Evans)

The Music of Black Origin Awards, known in short as the MOBO Awards, will be held in Liverpool in October.

Multi-platinum selling artist and MOBO ambassador Leona Lewis joined MOBO Awards founder, Kanya King MBE, today to announce Liverpool as the host city for the 2010 ceremony.

Last year’s event in Glasgow was the first time in its 15-year history it has transferred out of London.

Leona Lewis said: “I’m the proud owner of two MOBO Awards and am delighted to be here in Liverpool as a MOBO ambassador to help commemorate their 15th year. I think Liverpool is the perfect choice for this year’s MOBO Awards.”

In 2010 the annual BeMOBO Award will be given a regional focus. Established five years ago to recognise the work of an organisation or individual that has made a major difference to local, national or international communities, the BeMOBO Award has been received by winners such as Anti Slavery UK, The From Boyhood to Manhood Foundation and War Child UK.

This year the BeMOBO will be awarded to an organisation or individual based in the North West of England. Nominations for this Award will be submitted directly to MOBO and the shortlist will be selected by Kanya King, a Liverpool City Council representative and a MOBO advocate. The final winner will then be voted for by the MOBO community.

King said: “We are all very excited about celebrating MOBO’s 15th birthday in Liverpool and bringing the Awards to this vibrant city recognised for its outstanding contribution to music, culture and creativity. We have some incredible plans for this year’s event and we’re particularly looking forward to working with the City and implementing the BeMOBO Award as a regional initiative for the first time to honour some of the region’s unsung local heroes.”

The confirmation of Liverpool as host city comes as welcome news, following the campaign by one enterprising 17 year old, Ben Osu, who has campaigned on Facebook to bring the event to the North West – and has now been rewarded for his efforts.

Cllr Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool City Council, added: “Liverpool is delighted its bid to be the host for the 2010 MOBO Awards was a winning one and I’ve no doubt the city will host an unforgettable celebration of music. Staging high profile events like the MOBO Awards, or bidding to be England’s first UNESCO City of Music, is all part of our ambition to build on the legacy of European Capital of Culture and to internationally showcase what Liverpool and its diverse music scene has to offer. I’ve no doubt the MOBO Awards in Liverpool will be a huge success and being in October they will also add a special dimension to our Black History Month celebrations.”

The nominations for this year’s awards will be announced early September.

The annual awards will this year be celebrating its 15th birthday at the Liverpool Echo Arena on Wednesday 20 October.

A ticket ballot for the 2010 awards opens today which runs throughout the month of June. Full details of how to enter for a chance to buy tickets are available on the MOBO Awards website


John Peel, who died in 2004

Football and music will go hand in hand in Liverpool when the organisers behind the annual music festival Sound City hold a World Cup-style tournament in memory of the late Radio One DJ John Peel.

Twelve five-a-side football teams made up of celebrities, bands, and city dwellers will battle it out next month in The John Peel World Cup.

The idea was first initiated by Phil Hayes and Peter Hooton, who is a member of local band The Farm and the Liverpool supporters union, The Spirit of Shankly.

Hooton said: “The John Peel World Cup is a fantastic way to enjoy John’s great loves of football and music and the city.  The tournament is great fun but it’s also for a top cause and everyone takes it seriously once they’re on the pitch.  It’s certainly a laugh watching bands take a lump out of each other.”

Wirral-born music broadcaster Peel was a passionate supporter of Liverpool FC, who often discussed football matters on air, as well as homegrown bands and music. He died from a heart attack at the age of 65 while on holiday in Peru in October 2004.

For the third annual John Peel World Cup all proceeds from the tournament will go to the British Heart Foundation, which is the nominated charity for Peel’s family.

The event takes place on the afternoon of Wednesday 19 May at Powerleague Liverpool in Whittle Street from 1pm.

The John Peel World Cup is being held on the opening day of the Sound City music festival, with an evening celebration event planned at the o2 Academy in Hotham Street, where the winners will collect their medals onstage and bath in pink champagne as special guests The Fall provide the music.

Sound City is running for four days across 35 stages until Saturday 22 May. The line-up for this year’s festival includes Gil Scott-Heron, Paloma Faith, Ian McCulloch, Delphic, The Maccabees, Afrika Bambaataa, Speech Debelle, Wild Beasts, Field Music, Los Campesinos, The Blackout, Wave Machines, The Sunshine Underground, Hot Club de Paris, Ian McNabb and Chilly Gonzalez.

Liverpool skyline

Liverpool is bidding to become the first UNESCO City of Music in England, alongside its status already as a UNESCO World Heritage City.

Led by Liverpool City Council, in partnership with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and other key music organisations, a steering group is to meet for the first time at the end of November to outline the aims of the bid which will be officially triggered by a letter to UNESCO from Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, Cllr Mike Storey.

The first element of the bid will be to undertake a four month mapping exercise of Liverpool’s music offer before it officially hands in its bid in spring next year.

If approved, the city, which held the European Capital of Culture title in 2008, will join an exclusive club of just four other UNESCO cities of music, with Ghent and Glasgow the most recent additions, and would become a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Cllr Warren Bradley, leader of Liverpool City Council, who will chair the UNESCO bid steering group, said: ”Music is in Liverpool’s blood and its influence has been truly global from the days of sea shanties and Merseybeat to classical and dance – it was a fundamental reason why we were European Capital of Culture.”

The announcement comes just as Kasabian close Liverpool Music Week tonight, with a performance at the Echo Arena on Kings Dock.

James Barton, chief executive of Cream and joint director of the Liverpool Music Week festival, said: “I am really honoured to be invited onto the team that will steer the bid to become UNESCO city of music. I believe that music has always been central to Liverpool life which is why winning the title would be so exciting. Not only would this accolade recognise the already world famous music scene within Liverpool it will also act as a focus for the further development of music in the city for many years to come.’’

Vasily Petrenko, chief conductor at the award-winning Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, added: “I don’t think there is any other city in England that understands the power of music more than Liverpool. It has fantastic tradition of producing great music and great musicians of every kind and is still doing it today. To be a UNESCO City of Music will really help to promote Liverpool as one of the world’s music capitals.”

Liverpool’s bid to be a UNESCO City of Music is being funded by Liverpool City Council, Arts Council North West, North West Development Agency and North West Vision.

The Creative Cities Network connects cities who want to share experiences, ideas and best practices aiming at cultural, social and economic development.

Last year Liverpool became the UK’s most musical city, with a record 56 songs at Number 1 in the charts.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO for short, was founded 64 years ago today. For more details visit the UNESCO website here

Jon Byrne at Liverpool's Heebie Jeebies

Jon Byrne at Liverpool's Heebie Jeebies

Barrow singer-songwriter Jon Byrne made a return performance at Liverpool’s Heebie Jeebies after recovering from a bout of swine flu.

The musician was due to appear at the venue for the Mathew Street Festival but had to cancel due to him contracting the virus.

Whether he’s still suffering from symptoms of the disease or was distracted by the offer of alcohol – during the long wait between sound checking and performing – both assumptions could be argued for Byrne not quite living up to the promise of when I last caught him in the city at what is now the O2 Academy.

He certainly has talent, no question. ‘Scumbags’, ‘Cigarette Song’, ‘Cocaine’, taken from his debut album It’s Boring Being In Control, are brilliantly catchy.

His acoustic sound is backed by Ian Lewis’ keyboards, alongside original live performers Bobby Kewley on bass and Paul Tsanos on drums.

And the musical arrangement of ‘Impossible’ is considerably better live now than before, but the newer songs ‘They’re Watching You’, ‘Money is Better Than Love’, and ‘Ladies Man’ just washed over you without making any particular impact.

Byrne, however, did succeed in grabbing the attention of his audience towards the end of his set with ‘No Future Generation’ and his finale number ‘Don’t Let Life Get You Down’.

These songs still demonstrated his powerful vocal but for a majority of his appearance he simply looked bored of being on stage.

He next appears in London and Brighton, visit here for details

Seasick Steve

Oakland-born guitarist Steven Gene Wold – aka Seasick Steve – will be performing at this year’s Liverpool Music Week.

The American is renowned for his story telling ability through his music, which refers to his early life growing up in the tough neighbourhoods of California.

He will join other acts already signed up to perform in the city during the month of live music in November. They include bands Kasabian, The Specials, Reverend And The Makers, The Enemy and The Gallows, all shows where a ticket is needed.

James Barton, Liverpool Music Week director, said: “Seasick Steve proves the calibre of artiste that Liverpool Music Week can attract, with this year’s festival shaping up to be the most diverse yet.”

Seasick Steve will be appearing at the Liverpool Olympia on Saturday 7 November. Mike Deane, also a Liverpool Music Week director, added: “Seasick Steve is an artist that all of us here at Liverpool Music Week wanted on the bill. Seeing this man perform in the incredible setting of the Olympia theatre will be something any music fan won’t want to miss.”

Liverpool Music Week will also have a number of free gigs running throughout the city. Deane continued: “The Bays and Twisted Wheel are just the tip of the iceberg for the city centre free shows, we’ve some hugely innovative and exciting announcements to come, and we’re thrilled to announce these two very exciting and very different acts as our first free festival announcement.”

Manchester band Twisted Wheel, who have performed with the likes of Oasis, Paul Weller and Ian Brown, will perform at The Masque Theatre on 6 November.

Liverpool Music Week, organised by the people who set up Cream nightclub and Creamfields, is an annual indoor winter music festival, hosting over 80 events across 20 venues in Liverpool city centre and featuring over 300 live acts.

The festival, now in its seventh year, has progessed from being a week of free shows to a month-long festival with more venues added. Tickets for Seasick Steve go on sale Wednesday 9 September.

Klaus Voormann at Hard Day's Night Hotel (photo: Dave Evans)

Klaus Voormann at Hard Day's Night Hotel (photo: Dave Evans)

German artist Klaus Voormann, best known for designing The Beatles album cover Revolver, made a return to the home where his Fab Four friends originated from.

He was in Liverpool visiting over the August Bank Holiday, a weekend when the city holds one of the largest street festivals in Europe dedicated to John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Voormann visited Liverpool’s Beatle-themed Hard Day’s Night Hotel during the Mathew Street Festival yesterday where he unveiled a specially commissioned artwork.

Around 200 people queued to meet Voormann at the Beatles shop next door to the hotel, where he signed merchandise for them.

As well as images showing The Beatles at a young age, the artwork includes snapshots of Voormann’s close friends in Liverpool including Bill Harry, the creator of the sixties Mersey Beat newspaper, who was also in attendance.

Voormann, who gained a Grammy Award in 1966 with his Revolver artwork cover, first visited Liverpool after the death of his close friend Stuart Sutcliffe and got to know The Beatles on a personal level during their Hamburg breakthrough years.

He played base guitar for a number of bands during the sixties and seventies as well as collaborating on solo albums of every Beatle member except Sir Paul McCartney.

As a former member of Manfred Mann, he held a number one hit with ‘The Mighty Quinn’, which was the only Bob Dylan song to reach the top spot in the UK charts.

Later he decided to join Yoko Ono’s the Plastic Ono Band with other members including John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Alan White, prior to White’s drumming days with progressive rock band Yes.

However, Voormann became an important contributor to George Harrison’s first post-Beatles release All Things Must Pass triple album.

He played bass on the album alongside Clapton, Billy Preston, Ringo Starr and Bob Dylan amongst others. Released in November 1970, All Things Must Pass produced Harrison’s number one worldwide hit ‘My Sweet Lord’.

Today, Voormann will be presenting a video session and talk about his latest project, a box set called A Sideman’s Journey, at the Adelphi hotel in Liverpool city centre.

A Sideman’s Journey is the outcome of seven studio sessions in London, Memphis, Hamburg, Los Angeles and Munich with international musicians including Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yusuf aka Cat Stevens, Joe Walsh of The Eagles and many other stars.

The musical biography not only celebrates Voormann’s work as a bass player but also gives insight to his work as a graphic designer.

Some proceeds will go to ‘Water is Life – Lakota Environment and Health Project’, a charity project in aid of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Creature -Elisabeth resized

Liverpool composer Neil Campbell will have his new multimedia work premiered in St Georges Hall this Halloween.

Titled Frankenstein, the show will take place within the Concert Room of his hometown’s Grade I-listed building.

Based on the Mary Shelley novel, the composition has been scored to be performed by an expanded version of the Neil Campbell Collective.

Campbell’s band is an ensemble that combines the energy and intensity of a rock band with classical instrumentation such as classical guitar, cello and operatic soprano.

Commenting about his latest work, Campbell said: “The piece uses the Frankenstein story as a basis to construct a series of musical movements for rock band with classical instruments and choir integrating specially developed visuals and sound design… it will be a gothic and dramatic musical experience taking the listener into the world of Victor Frankenstein, a visionary whose high scientific ambitions ultimately lead to tragic consequences.”

It follows the Campbell Collective’s work on Ghost Stories – A Night Opera, which was performed at St Luke’s Church, within Liverpool city centre, in July.

Tickets go on sale 8 September. More details for the event, taking place on Friday 30 October, can be found here

 Jon Byrne Flyer

Barrow-in-Furness songwriter Jon Byrne continues his string of dates at Heebie Jeebies in Liverpool city centre at the end of the month.

He makes a return appearance at the Seel Street venue as part of the city’s annual Mathew Street Festival following a performance on 20 August.

Byrne’s Liverpool dates build on his successful O2 Academy tour in April and May this year promoting his critically acclaimed debut album It’s Boring Being in Control.

Ever since he was spotted by Clash man Mick Jones busking on Portobello Road, Byrne has been building a steady stream of admirers from Tom Hingley of the Inspiral Carpets, Pete Wylie, Billy Bragg, Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs, formerly of Oasis, and Johnny Bramwell, singer/songwriter with I Am Kloot.

Tom Hingley said: “Jon Byrne is a star. It may be a recession outside, but inside Jon’s music there is a warm, bittersweet fire burning.”

Byrne’s music is a raw and passionate delivery of slices of real life in his northern hometown.

Mike Joyce adds: “Here’s someone who really means it man! If you think (like me) that there’s an intensity and passion in Jon’s delivery that’s rarely heard on record… then just you wait until you experience the man live …WOAH!”

Byrne has come a long way from his days working in petrol stations, stacking the shelves of supermarkets and doing the rounds on the busking pitches. His music is loaded with his ‘finger on the trigger’ social commentary.

*Read my review of his performance in Liverpool last November here

Jon Byrne tour dates for 2009:

20 August – Heebie Jeebies, Seel Street

31 August – Heebie Jeebies, Seel Street, Mathew Street Festival

17 September – Heebie Jeebies, Seel Street, Liverpool

18 September – Frog and Nightingale, Canal Side, Chester

19 September – The Canteen, Michaelson Road, Barrow-in-Furness

29 October – 12 Bar Club, Denmark Street, London

Doves headline John Peel stage on the Friday

Doves headline John Peel stage on the Friday

Doves, Echo & the Bunneymen, The Ting Tings, and The Wombats are amongst the contingent of music acts appearing at this year’s Glastonbury festival from the North West of England.

Following the announcement of the full line-up at the 2009 event, the region will be represented by acts displaying a variety of musical influences.

Wilmslow’s three piece Doves appear after the critically acclaimed release of their forth album Kingdom of Rust and it will be two weeks after they’ve played at Delamere Forest.

Speaking on the band’s official website, guitarist Jez Williams said: “We could have played on the second stage. Peel is obviously a smaller, more intimate environment but we wanted to do something that we could take indoors, take a bit of production and get a real atmosphere going. It felt right at this moment in time to do that. We started on that stage too. We were first on in 1998 on the Friday when it was called New Bands stage so it’ll be a real moment for us.”

It’s fitting for the Doves to perform on the stage named after the Heswall-born disc jockey as it is also the one hosting the most bands from the North West.

Headlining and closing the John Peel stage on Sunday are the legendary Liverpool post-punk group Echo & the Bunneymen, who are supported on the day by Scouse alternative pop four-piece Wave Machines as they take to the stage two weeks before debut album Wave If You’re Really There is released. Oldham’s Twisted Wheel also perform on the John Peel stage that day.

Twisted Wheel will be supporting prior to indie trio The Wombats making their second appearance at this year’s festival. On Saturday, the Liverpool band are special guests on the Queen’s Head stage before Sunday’s John Peel stage performance.

The Ting Tings are joined on The Other stage on Friday by an act also making two appearances at this year’s festival. Salford’s The Whip will head straight to the West Dance stage within the Dance Village once they’ve performed a set before their Greater Manchester counterparts take to the stage.

Macclesfield’s Mr Scruff, real name Andy Carthy, now a resident in Stockport, has been officially revealed for the East Dance stage on the Sunday.

Elsewhere, former LIPA student Alyssa Bonagura, who counts Liverpool as her base despite Franklin in Tennessee, USA, being her native home, and Leigh’s blues and jazz singer Georgie Fame are the only two North West acts appearing on the Acoustic stage this year, with Manchester’s electronic music duo Lamb the only representative from the region on the Jazz World stage.

St Helens’ comedy folk four-piece The Lancashire Hotpots and Manchester’s flute maestro Michael McGoldrick make appearances on the Avalon stage on the Saturday and Friday respectively.

However, one girl making headlines across the electro pop scene is Victoria Hesketh – a.k.a. Little Boots. Hailing from Blackpool, now based in London, the blonde synthesize influenced artist will appear before Doves on the Friday on the John Peel stage.

She will be at Glastonbury in between a number of visits to UK-based festivals this summer, where she will be performing songs from debut album Hands.

At this year’s Sound City festival, Little Boots was supported by Liverpool’s Soft Toy Emergency, who have secured a slot on the Queen’s Head stage on the Sunday.

On the same stage on the Friday, Preston’s Team Waterpolo make an appearance after Wirral’s Liz Green entertains on the Queen’s Head stage during the Thursday.

The jazz-blues singer from West Kirby returns to Glastonbury having first being introduced to the festival after winning an Emerging Talent competition and being invited to open the Pyramid stage in 2007.

With tickets all sold in February, Glastonbury 2009 has an American theme running through it this year as two of the nation’s most well-known rockers, Bruce Springsteen and then Neil Young, were officially announced as headliners a month after it becoming a sell-out.

Closing the Pyramid Stage on Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset, will be the eagerly awaited return of Blur – who will have been a couple of weeks into their own tour.

The festival runs from Wednesday 24 until Sunday 28 June.

To view the full line-up click here

For the final day of the Sound City music festival The Zutons were headlining at St George’s Hall – closing what has been a memorable three days.

It’s been memorable in the sense of the lid being lifted on some of the north-west acts emerging from out the shadows.

Supporting The Zutons, Liverpool’s Sound of Guns certainly lived up to their billing of being “one of the loudest bands at Sound City”.

And sure enough they warmed up the gathered audience members – lucky enough to get a wristband or win a competition to be present at the chandelier-decked Concert Room – within the magnificent Grade-I listed building.

SofG performed their debut single ‘Architects’, prior to it being released on 8 June, and on this performance a few more downloads or purchases will have been secured.

With more ciders consumed, the crowd were treated to a return performance from a band now at an interesting time in their career. And The Zutons didn’t hang around either as they went straight through songs from their three albums.

‘Why Won’t You Give Me Your Love?’ from second release Tired of Hanging Around, ‘Zuton Fever’ and ‘Pressure Point’ from 2004’s Who Killed the Zutons? remain great as ever and really demonstrate what this band are all about, which – to coin their own saying – provide “blues grass rootsy stompy music”.

I’m a fan of The Zutons, however, ‘Bumbag’ from third album You Can Do Anything just didn’t provide the same punch as the earlier penned songs.

But as ‘Valerie’ kicks in, the mobile camera phones – the modern replacement to the cigarette lighter – shoot up in the air as audience members snap for “that moment” picture and it clearly indicated this second album track is still the popular Zutons one.

Dressed in a pink candy-striped playsuit, it’s also difficult not to keep your eyes off saxophonist Abi Harding – her dancing and jigging between her sax sounds makes you tap your foot, nod your head or even dance along to The Zutons sound.

Lead Zuton Dave McCabe still has a powerful vocal; yet he seemed to be going through the motions tonight. Perhaps his mind is on the next album…

But he was appreciative to “Kev [McManus] and Dave [Pichilingi]”, thanking them for “letting us play at Sound City”.

And hats off must go to the two men who, together with their team of people, had put together a successful festival for the second year running in Liverpool.

To read more of my reviews from Sound City 2009, click on the following links:

The Troubadours

Little Boots