Just before Christmas the husband and I left Belfast behind for a few days to head to the city of musical legends, Liverpool. We had tickets to see the last night of the Status Quo’s Last of the Electrics 2016 tour, at the Liverpool Echo Arena, where they were supported by REO Speedwagon.
We both are huge fans of Liverpool and so we decided to stay two nights so we could see more of the city before the concert. Our home for the duration of our trip was the Podworks Hotel on Henry Street. When we arrived, the member of staff on reception was very friendly and though we were earlier than check in he was able to accommodate us and get us booked in. Our room was, as the name suggests, just like a pod. Space is minimal but the interior is modern and stylish and you had everything you needed. The hotel itself is very centrally located and is the perfect choice for anyone visiting the city on a budget.
Once we freshened up it was time to explore. Our destination of choice was the Cavern Quarter, in particular the Cavern Club. Located on Mathew Street, the original Cavern Club was the starting point for many musical icons, perhaps most famously, The Beatles. It was a must play venue for a host of the biggest names in British music, from Queen and Elton John to, ironically enough, Status Quo. The original venue closed in May 1973 however in April 1984 it was re-built with the aim to resemble the original club as closely as possible and in fact many of the original bricks were used in the new club. As well as a tourist spot the club remains a music venue with live music on offer daily from midday. When we arrived, there was already a good buzz about the front stage as one of the resident artists was working his way through a repertoire which included The Beatles hits, their solo works as well as music from other influential artists such as Elvis and Johnny Cash right through to hits by Oasis. In total we managed to see three of the resident artists take to the stage; they were all very different from each but they were all extremely talented and completely adept at getting the crowd to sing along. This is an intimate venue with amazing acoustics and I honestly don’t think a visit to Liverpool would be complete without checking it out.
After seeing some more of the city we rounded our first day off with a visit to Popworld on Wood Street. If you love a bit of cheese, this is the place for you. From all the biggest pop hits from ’90s and the ’00s as well as a few classics thrown in for good measure, you are guaranteed to be on the dance floor all night long. The Pop Tails (a cocktail served in a glass suitable for the BFG) are a great novelty factor and with accessories on sale behind the bar, which range from pixel sunglasses to Santa hats, you will enjoy plenty of photo opportunities throughout the night – I know we did anyway!
After a much needed rest we woke up on day two to miserable weather and so we decided the best thing to do was to escape the outdoors. We headed to Button Street Smokehouse. If you visit Liverpool, I can not recommend this place enough. The interior of exposed brick and rustic wooden tables is charming and welcoming; the staff, kitted out in crisp white shirts and old school braces, were courteous and professional and then there was the food… whilst some people were dreaming of a white Christmas, I am still dreaming about their delicious chicken wings and the most succulent and tender ribs I have ever tried. Dessert was also as impressive. With a menu that made it extremely difficult to narrow it down, I eventually opted for the chocolate ‘tin can roasting’ fondue served with lots of goodies suitable for dipping including marshmallows, waffles, brownies and strawberries. This was fun, quirky and oh so tasty.
Before we knew it was time to head to the Docks and the Liverpool Echo Arena for the headliner of our trip: REO Speedwagon and Status Quo. This is brilliant venue for a gig, and though our seats were on the upper tier we still had an amazing view throughout, which was just as well as both bands were awesome. REO Speedwagon, from their first song, ‘Don’t Let Him Go’, completely commanded the stage as well as the audience’s attention. They played a range of their biggest hits including my all time favourites ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling’ and ‘Keep on Loving You’. Status Quo, who I grew up listening too as my mum is a huge fan, were as amazing as I expected. Although founder of the band, Francis Rossi, is the only original band member to remain in the live line up, the mix of old and young blood worked well together on stage and reflected the several generations of fans present in the audience. From opening number ‘Caroline’, and through hits such as ‘Beginning of the End’, ‘The Oriental’, ‘In the Army Now’ and ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’, the crowd sang and danced along. Francis Rossi had a brilliant rapport with the band and the audience and as well as providing exceptional music, he also littered the set with comic asides so that by the time the concert came to a close it was hard to take the smile off your face. After such a fantastic night watching Status Quo, I was particularly upset the next day when we arrived back to Belfast and were driving home from the airport to hear the news that band member Rick Parfitt, who had only permanently retired from live performances in October of this year, had passed away. After seeing how spectacular the band are live, as well as getting to revisit several of Status Quo’s best songs the night before, it made this news all that more poignant and sad.
Although our trip had a bittersweet ending, I have to say that all in all, Liverpool didn’t disappoint and definitely offered a trip to remember. In terms of food, tourist hotspots and music, this is one city that has it all.