Alun Parry & Friends

Love, Hope, Resistance
The Bluecoat Arts Centre, Liverpool
1st May 2014

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Affable Alun Parry, erstwhile compere, composer, songwriter and singer, welcomed everyone to the compact Bluecoat performance space for a night that would also include poems and discourses on the working class struggle for a decent life. The backdrop screen to the stage carried the mantra of the evening in direct opposition to its corollary; 'Hate, Fear, Obedience' - increasingly the bywords of the establishment and powers that be these days.

Parry got straight in with a song about Sir Desmond and poorer Jim Sherwood, and the relative values to each of gold or food. Next up poets Louise Fazakerley with 'Bird Street', about the respect afforded the plight of pigeons and drug users, and Morag Reid on the complacency and stupidity that leads to the descent to the bottom of cultural values and worse, set the tone.

You don't have to be famous to stand up to the abuses of the 'Responsible Capitalist' system in which we exist. The next song was about a young girl, mindlessly killed for the way she dressed as a Goth. Parry's The 'Dirty Thirty' embodied the belligerence shown by a small band of Leicester miners who refused to cross the picket line in the year-long 1984 strike. Fazakerley followed this up with a recitation about why caged birds sing - referencing life in old persons homes along the way.

The fast moving programme next had Chris Allen questioning why the richest 1% grab the headlines while there is uncaring contempt instead of compassion, for the most needy in society - sentiments echoed by poet Selina Todd in her poem.

The interval came after 'Rosalita', a song about immigration and the drive to blame the woes of homegrown job seekers, zero hour contracts and all on migrants and another on the travails of train travel in '1962 Barcelona'.

Part two started with cheers for Jim Campell's birthday before Fazackerley launched into musing about Palestine and the never ending struggles of its people. 'The Football Song' and its playing as a team ethos summed up how to beat old and new Etonians at their own game, while the 'Peoples Soviet of Limerick' remembered how in 1919 community interests were defended against the might of the state, as the guitarist played on.

Greg Cary and Morag Reid followed in a duet for words highlighting rebellions from Spartacus to Haitian slaves ditching the yoke of oppression, to the struggle for Votes for Women, to name but a few. Remembering Desi Warren refusing to bow to injustices in the building trade, the merits of the Union Hall and a rendition of The Internationale brought this emotional, still resisting, May Day sing along to a rousing conclusion.

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