National Conservation Centre, Whitechapel (1st May – 31st August
2009, 10am - 5pm)
This is a fascinating photography exhibition of a vital
time in the history of rock and pop music in Liverpool.
Francesco Mellina was born in Calabria in southern Italy,
but moved to Liverpool in his early twenties to study photography at Liverpool
Art School. All his pictures are in black and white, and although the
subtitle of the show states that they were taken between 1978-82, there
is one of Joey from the Ramones captured at the legendary Eric's club
As well as the shots of bands on stage at various venues
in Liverpool, there are a number of other equally captivating photographs
of clubland crowd scenes of punks, goths, New Romantics, etc., often in
hand-me-down attire. The hip venues included Cagney's, Rotters and Kirklands.
The pictures that caught my eye included Bono playing at
Brady's (formerly Eric's) in the early days of U2. They were supporting
Pink Military and Wah Heat, and Mellina - who normally did not photographs
act appearing first - due to the cost of film, did so because, “Even
then they had something special".
The founder of Eric's, Roger Eagle is also pictured, pictured
standing outside the Crash rehearsal studio in Davies Street. "If
Eric's had not been set up by Roger as a venue, a lot of bands would not
have had a place to play and develop," Mellina stated.
Mellina expresses his adulation of Siouxsie Sioux - he does
have good taste! - even taking pictures of her soundchecking at Brady's.
"She was the pin-up girl in punk”, commented Mellina. "With
war paint on the transformation from normal girl to stage was warrior-like."
There are two bizarre shots of Pete Burns from Dead Or Alive.
In one he is on stage wearing black contact lenses ("performance-wise
he was captivating" said Mellina), and in the other he is walking
across the road in London wearing exotic clothes in complete contract
to the drab attire of the people around him.
Mellina adds some wry comments beneath his photographs.
The most amusing referred to an image of Bryan Ferry on stage with Roxy
Music at the Apollo in Manchester.
"It is the only time I have come out of a gig smelling
of perfume instead of sweat. There were so many women in the audience
throwing flowers at Ferry."
Included in the exhibition is a slide show of all the photographs
displayed, plus a number of other images not shown on the walls.