Liverpool Socialist Singers and Friends Concert
St Bride’s Church
Wednesday 27th April, 2011
As soon as the building came alive with the Italian anti-fascist song
‘Bandiera Rossa’ (red banner), any preconception that this
was to be a sermon of happy clappy types was immediately dispelled. I
soon spotted friends in the building and my atheistic forebodings all
but completely vanished.
The performance given by the and Friends was set against the backdrop of an exhibition
by Helen Jones entitled The Juliet letters;
large drapes depicting letters, or rather the most painful phrases and
heartfelt sections of such letters, sent to ‘The Juliet Club’
a group of agony aunts in Verona promoting the legend of Romeo and Juliet.
But I digress, as we enter a period of sudden change we become nostalgic
and, as others look towards the royal wedding for their moral comfort
blanket, we in the movement have a vast reserve of songs concerning struggle,
hope, inspiration, humour and common humanity to fall back on to take
Supporting the Working Class Life and Music Festival was a collection
of fine singers and musicians, all gathered to enlighten and spread the
word. Activism needn’t be dull lectures and boring crud, in fact,
as the evening proved, it could be passionate and powerful and help raise
the spirit and give people the determination to embrace the challenges
and battles to come. Odes to Joy indeed.
With the intro over, local dance group Catalyst performed Black
Lamp, a collection of rustic but rebellious tunes named after a
mythical secret organisation of Yorkshire miners. Brenda Haddon, a local
artist and writer, got us thinking; Acoustica, another trio, kept us bouncing
along; Vinny Spencer, who performed at the Nerve residency at FACT, was
in fine fettle with deep lyrics of struggle; Clare Mooney, a boisterous
woman who has kept the flame of 80s resistance to Thatcher alive and well
in song, with easily the best quirky song sung in a church “You’re
not properly dressed without a fleece” and Morag, a good old ditty,
rhyme and poetry with a sharp political edge.
To round off, the Socialist Choir reinforced the notion of the international
struggles we are all united by and the performers sang from the heart.
A special mention must be made here regarding Leo, a young pianist who,
at just 14 years old, is a future talent to listen out for.
All in all, it lifted my devout atheist soul to the heavens and thank
god I saw the light. ‘Praise Be’ as Joe Hill, the Wobblies
itinerant songwriter, would say, pass it on and we’ll be bound for
glory wherever we go. Even if he himself didn’t make an appearance,
his ideas were certainly resurrected and about time too!