The Crucial 3-0

Kevin Cummins
Hard Days Night Hotel, Mathew Street
22nd May – 22nd June 2009

Reviewed by John Owen

Tucked upstairs at the end of the posh tourist hotel Hard Days Night is the exhibition of Kevin Cummins a pop photographic history of Liverpool s bygone punk scene. Next to a frozen time warp of Beatle mania still a phoney, as ever is the imprint a spooky record of acne rebelliousness and all things punk and weird that originated in the city of Liverpool.

Familiar and unfamiliar at the same time angry goths filthy and furious but mainly fun, with some quiet retrospective shots candid of the soon to be famous megastars. These beautifully shot black and white photos, capture the raw innocent vitality of the faces leading the avant garde circa late 70s early Thatcher era, depicting a punk ideology as it morphed into something else, something 100% commercial, more saleable perhaps.

Stuck on the wall for all to see is the seminal forging house in their natural habitat the stage or lounging around in an interesting way. As they competed with others for that all important contract or big break that would whisk them away from the land they loved. Politics aside.

The sheer artistry is in the eye of the camera holder, subtle mood changes and light shifts, reprise then action, combine to tap into the old city buildings. Here where newer faces once paraded with peacock arrogance of youth to strut their stuff and charm the birds of the trees. Voices that had something to say about what was happening to us, with redundancies and mass unemployment amongst young, is it any wonder they sought escape in the life created out to shock the establishment were not gonna take it attitude against the status quo?

So two or three decades later some of these people are now pillars of the rock establishment and their anger has long subsided into mellower pragmatic and smoother edged sounds. This however shouldn’t daunt the valiant fan of rock from visiting the gallery the photos are excellent and have a real feel for the period rather than the usual rock journo, clinically excellent shots, lots of pristine images of drug fuelled mayhem to inspire or warn the kids of the dangers of going to far.

I was momentarily transported back to the period, with my cool clothes, hey they could be your brother and sister, all dolled up to the nines, ready to go out for a night, getting blitzed on red witches and dodgy mulletoffs.

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