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After Jimmy’s closure what’s next for Liverpool’s live music scene

9 months ago

After Jimmy’s closure what’s next for Liverpool’s live music scene

Chris McIntosh is a vocalists and guitarist with the band HAARM who play at the Shipping Forecast later this month.

Liverpool’s live music scene is in danger of ‘dwindling away’ unless it gets more support according to one local musician.

Chris says after the sudden closure of Jimmy’s two weeks ago, there’s a real threat to live music venues in Liverpool who are struggling to keep up with rising costs.

“It is really hard because the overheads are huge and the profit margins are so slim, it’s always touch and go – people see places being busy but they don’t always think about the rent, the council tax, the bills, the staff which all have to be paid.

“There aren’t enough live music venues in Liverpool as it is and they’re getting fewer. Every year it feels like there’s one less or two less.

Credit: HAARM
Credit: HAARM

“Jimmy’s is the latest one but we’ve just seen so many venues go by the wayside over the years and I think someone needs to grab the bull by the horns and say, look if we carry on this way eventually there will be nowhere for bands to play and nowhere to see live music unless you go to big venues like the Arena or the O2 which is a completely different experience 

“In terms of grass roots music there’ll be nothing and that would be a really sad state of affairs.”

Venues like Shipping Forecast, the Jacaranda, Kazimier Stockroom and Phase One don’t only help showcase local emerging artists, they give audiences an opportunity to see singers and bands on the way up.

“Everyone’s got to start somewhere and play their first gigs because that’s where the talent grows,” says Chris. “You give them the platform to work on songs in front of an audience and they’ll take everything they’ve learnt from those early gigs and use the experience in that band or their next one. 

“At the same time, everyone at those gigs is supporting the local economy and the city, and getting a chance to be at one of those ‘I was there’ moments.”

Chris’s own band HAARM is about to make a return to performing live, with a gig at Shipping Forecast on Thursday October 26, following a new single – Do The Right Thing – that’s out this week.

The three-piece alt-pop band, with Jen Davies on vocals and keyboards and Olly Gorman on drums, has been together since 2016 after initially planning a songwriting collaboration. 

“I’ve known Jen and Olly for a long time, and we originally got together to write songs for other artists because each one of us is a songwriter independently and we’d all been in bands,” explains Chris, who used to be with Liverpool band 28 Costumes.

“When we actually got in the studio, we enjoyed each other’s company a lot and we thought, this material’s too good to give away, let’s just start a band, so that’s what we did.”

Shipping Forecast
Shipping Forecast

The Liverpool date is their first in a while, after taking a break for other projects, and Chris hopes it will lead up to a UK tour next year and some dates in Europe.

He says past experience of playing in Europe has shown him how other countries support their music industry.

“They have a really good arts infrastructure and a lot of the live music venues are state subsidised or funded because they really want to promote them. I don’t think it’s the same in this country. Even though British music is famous all around the world, it’s just not treated seriously or valued enough.

“In cities like Liverpool, it’s such a huge thing. It’s an intrinsic part of our culture but unless it’s supported it will just dwindle away. 

“At what point does someone say, we need to change this and help these businesses? Otherwise eventually we’ll just be living in a city with no musical culture at all and that famous wall in Mathew Street will have had the last brick put in. 

“I know at the moment money’s really tight but it’s important that people go to gigs if they can. If you like music and you can afford to go, you should go because that’s the only way the venues are going to survive. 

“If you enjoy live music and you see a gig, make the effort and go to it, don’t stay in and watch Netflix.”

HAARM are at Shipping Forecast on Thursday October 26 supported by Niki Kand and Tweak. You can book tickets HERE.

For more on Liverpool’s live music scene click HERE.

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