Smoke and Mirrors

Collective Encounters
The Mill, Fulton Street (7th-12th July 2008)

Reviewed by Robert Scales

Do I really fancy a rainy Wednesday night out in Kirkdale? I couldn’t resist! This was a cabaret organized by Collective Encounters, at the old Mill on Fulton Street, and a good mix of people sat down to a real treat. We joined in with their songs, laughed at the gags, listened to their lyrical meanderings and enjoyed the view. The whole experience lifted an appreciative audience to the roof.

The venue itself was from another time, and according to the doorman, no one had sat foot in it for thirty odd years. Situated just off the dock road, the wooden beams, steel pillars and intimate lighting took us back to the turn of the last century. The show began with a message from Liverpool’s 700th birthday celebrations – this is ‘A city of hope and possibility’.

We were then treated to a thought-provoking journey through the trials and tribulations, hopes and dreams and the social consciousness of some cracking Liverpool characters, past and present. Here was a ‘spirit of the age’ rarely seen or heard, let alone celebrated.

The music was spot on and complemented great performances, projections and set. In the music hall tradition there was a sense of spectacle, humour and passion running through it that had most of us in bits. Our hearts went out when John ‘the spoons’ did his thing. The joy of watching him caress those spoons as they rac’aca’d on his thigh, and listening to him sing of the times when he was a lad, received a standing ovation.

We also heard from Leticia the Liverbird, the ‘Doyens of bandstand and bench’, Madame Majike and many others, who rekindled my faith in the city’s social heritage. A big thanks to everyone involved. Nice one.

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