Liverpool Trip for Fame Reunion Concert

Sunday May 5th to Tuesday 7th May 2019

So I have literally just got back from Liverpool, this was my first visit to this city, and surprise surprise it was to see a show. Not a Musical as such this time, a concert, with the cast of a TV show performing.

So this is the trip…

It starts with a VERY long drive, from my home in the South Wales valleys to Liverpool.

Now bear in mind a couple of things, one luckily I really enjoy driving, but two as anyone who knows me can attest I have a truly abysmal sense of direction. So with two SatNavs running I set off, they take me to Brecon, and from there to feckin Brigadoon! 🙂

I mean come on, I had to breathe in to get down some of the lanes they sent me along. So after winding around for a few hours I feel like I’ve completed at least two stages of the Rally GB. Then Eureka! A dual carriage way, and not only this double lane slice of heaven but signs I can pronounce without having to borrow someone else’s tongue too. So I must be in England.

From here it was a straightforward (ish) journey in to the city centre, with only one hitch,

“crap there’s a toll ahead”,

thank god for contactless and I make my first journey across the Mersey by going under it.

I find the car park opposite my hotel and park up, walk the few steps to the hotel

I am told there’s no room ready yet, but that they can store my luggage. So I drop off my bags and hit the streets.

Now Liverpool, compared to London is (at least for me) a little difficult to navigate. It’s a warren of smaller streets and lanes off bigger ones, now I know all cities have these but there seemed even MORE here. Might just be my sense of direction deficit. Good news though, true to Google maps word I am indeed a 5 minute walk from the Albert Dock and the venue for tomorrows show the M&S Bank Arena is just behind that, and Huge, so no chance of missing it.

For a few hours I wander, periodically popping into the hotel as I pass, but alas no luck and my room’s still not ready. So now feeling a little peckish and thirsty I pass a bar called ‘McCartneys’, so as the saying goes “when in Liverpool eat in a bar named after a Beatle “ … or something like that 🙂

So I have the all day breakfast and a pint, afterwards getting back to my hotel about quarter to two, so I have another pint in the hotel bar, and here see something I’ve never seen anywhere else, charging discs for your mobile built into the tables, handy.

So at just after two I manage to check in. Not the most efficient check in I’ve ever had, but I’m prepared to give them some slack on this as they are currently in the middle of a renovation of the reception area, so are using a temporary table by the bar.

So to the room, the first thing I notice is “we’re not in London anymore Toto” the room is huge compared to the ones in the big smoke. It is spotlessly clean and has everything you could need, including: a double bed, sofa, Ironing board and Iron, Small table with (I think) a Radio (I didn’t try it), Hair-dryer (essential for me) 🙂 and a USB charging port by the side of the bed, it’s en suite and a first for me the toilet is in a separate room from the bathroom.

So I drop off my clothes and head straight out, the weather is chilly but dry so I head to the venue for the show, as I’d been told I can collect my ticket from the atrium. On the way there I go for a walk, checking out the area and then wander around the Albert Dock

and go for a spin on the Liverpool Eye, nice views.

 

So I get to the atrium, have one step short of a cavity search to get in through the doors, tell you what they take security seriously here. It wasn’t this tight when I visit the West End.

I speak to a nice lady who has the envelopes, but unfortunately not the signed posters that were part of the package I booked. The lady says she was hoping they would have been there, but they hadn’t been delivered, she offers that they may be on our seats when we attend the show. So I take my ticket and head back into the city.

So it’s a Sunday night of a bank holiday weekend and I’m in the home of Rock & Roll in the UK so I head to The Cavern, “The birthplace of the Beatles” Well not quite, but more of that later. The entrance fee £4 at this time of the evening, is for me, very reasonable.

You head down the stairs and are greeted with this view.

 

Wow, it’s low, cramped … and great fun. The band on are excellent, playing a range of songs from not only the Fab Four but other famous local Rock n Rollers so I am in my element. I spend a nice hour or so here listening to them, then head back out and to the Cavern Pub

a sister venue just opposite in Margaret Street, also offering live music and entrance to this venue is free. Here I see a solo singer, playing a range of material from Neil Diamond via the Beatles (it’s a by-law it’s compulsory every 3 songs!) 🙂 to more modern stuff.

At one point the singer says

I see we have a hen party in, where you from girls?”

Wales” is the reply,

a little later I’m at the bar when one of their group comes up,

What part of Wales?” I ask,

Merthyr”  they reply,

i.e. MY HOME TOWN about 150 miles away! It really is a small world!

After this I visit another pub on the same street and then deciding discretion is the better part of valour, decide to call it a night. So I grab some food and head back to my hotel, where I discover Joe Pesci was wrong, it’s not ONLY the Drive Through they ***** you in, it’s inside too! Oh well too late now.

So it’s Monday the day of the show. So as I lie in my hotel room I ask Google

What’s the chance of rain in Liverpool today”

to which the lying b*tch replies:

It is not forecast to rain in Liverpool today”

So I head out in a small jacket and get absolutely DRENCHED.

So anyway, there are a couple of things you HAVE to do if you visit Liverpool and if you’re of my vintage one of them is take the ferry across the Mersey, cue song stuck in the heads of all of my generation. So yes it was cold and absolutely chucking it down, but the ferry has a roof, and I’m macho so I enjoyed it. The photos are a little underwhelming due to the inclement weather, but it’s another thing ‘off my bucket list’ as they say.

So I head back to the hotel, swap jackets, oh and frighten the bejesus out of the maid, well the door was open when I got back, so I walked in and said “Hi” to which she screamed and (possibly verbally doubted my parentage) but as I don’t speak the language she does I’ll just think that she said something like

Ooh you made me jump” 🙂

If anyone at the hotel reads this please apologise to the lady for me.

So back out into the rain and I head back to McCartneys Bar for a breakfast and pint. Then it’s to the Albert Dock to hop on one of the open top sightseeing buses I like so much. I managed to get a seat under the partially covered bit of the open deck and I enjoy a 50 minute tour of the Highlights of Liverpool. This particular bus has a ‘live guide’ who as well as being very knowledgeable was also funny and engaging. So I learned some things, saw some things and let me feet rest for a bit. Again no photos due to the weather.

Things I learnt:

The Cavern didn’t have an alcohol licence, so all the band members used to go to the Grapes a pub a little further down Margaret Street and have a pint there before going in to perform at the Cavern, in which you could only have: Coffee, tea or apparently Soup!

I heard this before getting to Liverpool but the Cavern isn’t the Cavern, its a replica a few doors down from the original site, here’s a photo of the original location.

The ‘New’ Cathedral was completed before the ‘old’ catheral, so if your ever asked which is the oldest one its the new one! … Look it up apparently it’s true.

When we got back to the dock it was too close to showtime to head back to the hotel, but too early to go the venue. So I popped into ‘The Beatles Story’, now at £17 I found it a little steep, it was interesting but I’ve seen better.

Now I think, being safely back in my living room in Wales, I am far enough away to say this, but I was never THAT big a fan of the Fab Four. I liked some of their stuff, but I’ve always been more of an Elvis fan myself. So this may have clouded my views of this particular attraction. So give it a go yourself and see what you think.

    

So to the reason for this trip, and dear readers, those of a certain vintage, spool back the cassette in your Walkman to the 1980s, those too young …ask your parents!

Thursday evenings after I returned from another hour of bobbing about in the shallow end of the Hoover hour at Gwaenfarren swimming pool … I never did learn to swim properly.

A new show started.

‘Fame’ was set at the New York High School for the Performing Arts, and was based on Alan Parker’s 1980 film of the same name.

The series featured the characters of:

‘Coco’ Erica Gimpel

‘Bruno’ Lee Curreri

‘Danny’ Carlo Imperato

‘Doris’ Valerie Landsberg

‘Montgomery’ P.R. Paul

All who were going to be at the re-union concert. Also attending were:

Nia Peeples ‘Nicole’

Cynthia Gibb ‘Holly’

Jesse Borrego ‘Jesse’

and

Loretta Chandler ‘Dusty’

Who came in on later series, Lorettta after they stopped screening it in the UK.

Now Erica Gimple regrettably had to pull out a few weeks before the concert due to work commitments. But still I was going to get to see ‘The Kids from Fame’ as they were known, live. They did play some concerts in the UK back in the 80s but there was no way I could afford, or indeed would have had the confidence to travel to London to see them. So this to me was special.

I got to the venue and was reacquainted with the probing digits of the security team, I mean come on they asked me to take my baseball cap off, with a head as big as mine there’s no space there to hide anything! Still I get in, still no posters, maybe on the seats. So I head to the bar and have a drink.

The auditorium opens and I get to my seat, row G seat 48 on the aisle.

Here I really should thank Sue Hinds, the lady behind this concert. A detective with Merseyside Police and fan of Fame since she was eleven. She wrote to Valerie Landsberg as a youngster and they ended up becoming pen-pals. She always thought the fans would love to see these performers in concert again, and when the chance came up to help out Claire House a local children’s hospice she made it all come together.

The whole event was 2 concerts: Sunday evening and Monday afternoon, together with a convention where the cast did a Q&A session, there were quiz sessions, welcome and goodbye meals with the cast and some who couldn’t attend answered questions via video link and recorded films. Sadly as I wasn’t sure what time I would get to Liverpool I couldn’t attend these, but those who did have given them glowing reviews.

So to the concert. Well it was all I hoped for and more. There were people dressed in leg warmers, in sparkly outfits … and that was just the audience!

The cast came on stage to rapturous applause for this the second of two concerts, they performed songs from the show, and some others. They were supported by a live band, great young dancers from LMA, a choir and backing singers. There was a huge screen behind them on the stage and they had cameras either side which provided the images, (would have loved to get my hands on one of those, to film not steal! It’s in the blood.)

 

Now for me there was one song I was desperate for them to perform. It’s called “You don’t know who I am”, it’s not what you would call one of the biggies. However for an overweight kid who towered over most of his classmates all through school, (I’ve been 6ft 3” since I was 12 years old) the words resonated for me, they still do. It talks of how people are perceived, and how others ‘see’ what they’re expecting not what an individual really is. People assume tall = confident (now at times and in the right circumstances I can fake this) Big (in Wales where I live) equates to rugby player into power drinking and pub crawls. Now much as I like a pint, I’m more into escaping into theatre, TV and movies. Probably why I set up my video company. So when they performed this song my night was made! …

No it was something in my eye…s 🙂

The song is on YouTube check it out.

Of course they did all the main ones: “High Fidelity”, “I still believe in me” (with Lee playing for a video Erica recorded), ”Friday Night”, “Fame” and of course “Starmaker”.

My stand out moments though were: obviously the one I talked about above, but also “Wish I was your child” sung by Nia, “This is a special place” sung by Cynthia and of course the one and only “Starmaker”.

I have to say, athough the intervening years have meant we all look a little different to the way we did in the 1980s Cynthia and especially Nia still look …. WOW! I always had a crush on those two ladies, and the intervening decades have done nothing to dampen my admiration.

So there you have it. After the show I returned to the hotel, dropped off the programme I had bought. Oh I’ve since found out the posters are going to be posted to us.

Then it was back to the Cavern for 2 quick pints, a stop at The Grapes,

So I drank where the Beatles and a lot of the other rock and roll greats sated their thirst before belting out the classics over the aroma of coffee beans (or apparently) tomato or oxtail soup!

A relatively early night then a 4 hour journey back. I tried a different route, but it was as twisty and challenging as the way up.

I would like to return to Liverpool again, as there’s more to see and do there. The staff in the venues I visited were friendly, oh and the people at the concert I spoke to were very nice too, well we all had a common interest, in reliving our youth, and enjoyng the talents of some really great performers.

Season 1 & 2 of Fame is available on DVD, and some other episodes on YouTube, check them out, word of warning though, you may find yourself dancing on your neighbours Fiat Punto wearing leg warmers!

2 Comments

Leave a Comment