3Beat's old skool house extravaganza
The grand cities of Liverpool and Manchester have always enjoyed a simmering, sibling rivalry - always trying to outdo one another, whether with nightclubs or football clubs. Football and house music remain the twin religions of these cities; made manifest in bricks-and-mortar by Anfield and Cream; Old Trafford and the Haçienda.
3Beat is in much the same vein – a record store opened 18 years ago by Jon Barlow (a Mancunian based in Liverpool) to stem the tide of record buyers heading down the M62 to Eastern Bloc in Manchester. A lot has gone on in the intervening 18 years – a lot of reasons to celebrate. Most of us have 18th birthdays, so why not a record store? The party – Back To The Old Pool – involves a lot more than some limp balloons and crumbling cake. 3Beat have taken over the Carling Academy venue, and flown in one of the true originators, Marshall Jefferson, as well as tempting legendary vocalist Ce Ce Rogers to join him on stage for a rare PA. Inside, the venue is big and it’s wall-to-wall wrongness - stripped-down, bare-knuckle raving of the finest order. The main room involves a bar at the back, stage at the front and all manner of weird and wonderful Scousers in-between.
“A lot of people have come through those doors,” says Jon, “and we wanted to give them a reason to come out and have a bit of fun with us again.” They’re having that, Mr Barlow - a mix of old heads who have dusted their dancing trousers for one last waltz with a sprinkling of young bucks who have come out to see what all the fuss is about. Marshall delivers big time, spinning massive classic after classic and it’s rewarding to discover, through the fug of a life spent in discos, that you can still remember the words to ‘Where Love Lives’.
Things really take off when Ce Ce Rogers takes to the stage. In between chats with the crowd about love and life he belts out ‘Someday’, the track he recorded with Jefferson some 20 years ago. They love a good sing song, do the Scousers. There is something in the water of the Mersey, in the genes of Liverpudlians, that makes them impossibly, infectiously melodic. It would seem the Mersey beat is now three-times as strong. 3Beat is the heartbeat of Liverpool, an urbane metronome to which the city ticks.
* The next Back To The Old Pool party is on Saturday 1st March at the Carling Academy in Liverpool, with Alex Paterson (The Orb), the FBI Project from Italy and Voodoo DJs.