I was bewildered this morning to get up and read a glowing review of last night’s concert in the Liverpool Echo. Because Sarah and I were there and didn’t feel remotely ‘glowing’ about it all.
It all sounded great. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra playing for free in Sefton Park on a summer’s evening as part of the Liverpool International Music Festival. What’s not to like about anticipating that?
Well, approaching the Park it starts to feel strange. Fences, a big security presence and a distinct nervousness in the air. Familiar pathways into our grandest open space all blocked off. Channelled into tightly controlled ways in. Monitored. For what? Worried we’d all misbehave like a typical Mathew Street Festival audience of old? Or is it about the sponsors and not upsetting them?
There’s a decent crowd and a sense of excitement and expectation in the air.
Being a Friday night we fancy a drink and see people emerging from the lovely ‘Romantitek’ pavilion I’d noticed the other day, with glasses in hand. We approach thirstily, only to find it’s for ‘VIPs’ and therefore not us.
First confirmation that we’ve arrived at something corporate.
Waiting for the orchestra we are marketed at. And little paper ‘Classic FM’ flags are being handed out to the children. It’s starting to feel like a posh version of a Radio 1 Roadshow from the 1980s. Any minute now Bruno Brookes will appear and start telling bad jokes. And he does.
Except it’s not him, but some similarly inane red-blazered bloke from Classic FM.
At last the orchestra start, with some ‘Carmen.’ I assume, like at any gig, they’re using the first piece to get the sound right as it’s pretty quiet. But no, it stays that way. And as they plod through what the Echo calls –
“A programme carefully chosen for the venue and audience, with upbeat, blockbuster-ish numbers featuring plenty of whizz bangs, and classical favourites”
We are underwhelmed.
So, thanks very much and all that and we realise it has to get paid for somehow if we’re going to get in for free. But after this start the weekend in the Park can only get better. So rain, rain, go away and let’s have 3 more brighter days.
Download the full programme here.