10 bands poster

For just over two and a half years The Kazimier has been the home of a gig, a night and, most importantly, a party quite unlike any other that you’ll find in Liverpool (or anywhere else for that matter) ­its name is 10 Bands 10 Minutes. The premise is simple: ten bands each play ten minute sets back to back ­ so tightly the people in the smoking area are rushing to finish the ends of their cigarettes, or forgoing altogether the washing and/or drying of their hands in the toilet to get themselves back inside for the next act. There is only one rule at 10 Bands 10 Minutes and it is that each band is obliged to play one song in their set by the chosen artist of the night – and for this holiday banger The Kazimier witnessed a big fat tribute to Madonna that was full of love, full of dancing, full of “YES­ing” and, crucially, jam­packed full of some of her best ­loved tunes.

kazimier crowd Liverpool

The Kaz Crowd at 10 Bands 10 Minutes (Photo Credit Austin Ronald Ray

One cannot simply start talking about ’10 Bands’ without first introducing its hosts and party maestros Married to the Sea. I have been lucky enough to call these guys my friends for the best part of the last ten years, and thus have been able to witness first hand the evolution of this great night from its beginnings in the old Everyman basement in 2008, to the loft in the Barfly, and now at The Kazimier where it has well and truly found a place to call home. I first met these boys – Simon Turner, Nick Duckett, Sam Walkerdine and Greg Macoy – about eight years ago when they were living on Smithdown Road, and occasionally hosting parties that have still remained the measuring stick for every social gathering I have attended since. The band, and others amongst their extended network of like-­minded musicians, would perform at these parties, and the spirit of the night now known as 10 Bands 10 Minutes was born for myself and many other of their friends in that famous flat above the Clachan pub.

It was a shared love of Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ album that led the Married to the Sea boys and their friends and fellow musicians at the time ­ bands including Hot Club De Paris, House That Jack Built and The Sporting Life ­ to put on the first ‘themed’ 10 Bands 10 Minutes night in the old Barfly loft on Seel Street. Having proved to be a resounding success, the gimmick was then transferred to a tribute night for Weezer’s ‘Blue Album’, and since then has been expanded to potentially encompass the entire back catalogues of The Pixies, The Smiths, Neil Young, Prince, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, Blondie and Michael Jackson, who have all enjoyed their own unique ’10 Bands’ tribute in the last six years of the night’s existence. On August 16th 2014 though, it was all about Madonna and, based on some of the things I’ve witnessed from its aforementioned predecessors, I knew as I walked in that it was going to be yet another night to remember.

Strange Collective (Photo Credit Austin Ronald Ray)

Strange Collective (Photo Credit Austin Ronald Ray)

Starting things off were Strange Collective, who offered up an atmospheric and psychedelic introduction to the proceedings, and possessed an effortlessly cool sound which I would most liken to that of early Brian Jonestown Massacre material. After dressing up Madonna’s “Frozen” in their own distinctive fashion, the band made way for quirky folk­pop three piece Freda and the High Tides, who gave the crowd something completely different to digest, covering “Material Girl” with delightful harmonies, acoustic guitars and a kazoo. Big Safari were next up performing “La Isla Bonita” followed by Rachael Wright & The Good Sons who covered “Cherish”, before the first half of the night was brought to a close by Puzzle who played both “Borderline” and “Papa Don’t Preach”.

The second half of the night was kicked off by synth­rockers Organ Freeman, who again changed the mood of the place with a comical performance of “Into The Groove” ­ one which saw their singer get in amongst the delighted crowd wearing a bicycle helmet for…protection? Perhaps the only act in the building that could follow this exceptionally entertaining and energetic display were Spanish Announce Team, who thankfully took to the stage next. Entering to The Undertaker from WWE’s entrance theme, the wrestle­ rockers came out wearing their signature lucha libre masks and were greeted by an adoring crowd who held up wrestling signs for them to see. The band immediately conducted their fans in the ways of the YES! Movement, which is something WWE fans know about only too well, but for the uneducated amongst you it involves repeatedly thrusting both hands into the air and pointing to the sky whilst chanting “YES! YES! YES!” over and over again. Wrestling fans or otherwise, the band had every single person in the Kazimier doing it in unison, and then performed brilliantly the theme music of wrestlers Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels, having started their set with a cover of Madonna’s “Crazy For You”.

The wonderful Natalie McCool, performing both “Don’t Tell Me” and “Like A Virgin”, and the brilliant Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies, who covered “Beautiful Stranger”, brought the night to its near conclusion, and I began to look forward to the always spectacular finale from headliners and hosts Married to the Sea. The band truly are made for these moments and they came out to a raucous reception from the Kazimier crowd, with one Daniel Melia of 10 Bands regulars Cavalier Song stepping in for the away in Berlin Greg Macoy, and Stephen Lewin from Big Safari also joining the line up for the evening. After six years of coming to the event the crowd already knew exactly what to expect when these boys took to the stage: a party – and that is exactly what we got as the band treated us to three tracks from Madonna’s back catalogue.

Spanish Announce Team (Photo Credit Austin Ronald Ray)

Spanish Announce Team (Photo Credit Austin Ronald Ray)

Beginning with “Open Your Heart”, the band were then joined by the talented Nicola Windever ­acknowledged by the band to help give their Madge covers a much needed woman’s touch ­ and proceeded to put the “Holiday” in their holiday banger, before finishing the set in truly epic fashion with one of Madonna’s best loved songs. The words ‘epic’ and ‘spectacular’ are by no means exaggerations for a Married to the Sea 10 Bands finale, and this one was no exception. Joined on the raised rear part of the stage by members from all the other nine bands of the night – all now wearing bright white choir gowns – Nick, Sam, Simon, Daniel, Stephen and Nicola led the jubilant crowd through the innately catchy choruses of “Like A Prayer”.

Another night in the Kazimier, more hugely entertaining performances from ten great bands, and another fitting tribute to another legendary artist. This is 10 Bands 10 Minutes – but what does the future hold for Married to the Sea and future nights at the Kazimier? The band have just recently recorded an EP and are currently in the process of mixing it, whilst Simon was able to tell me that there will be another 10 Bands before the end of the year, although they have still yet to decide on the date or theme. If one thing is for certain though it is that anything remains possible, and with Abba, Elton John, The Beach Boys and Queen covering just a small part of the uncharted waters of pop history for the night, you can expect the next 10 Bands 10 Minutes to be every bit as much of a party and a celebration as this recent Madonna one and those that came before it. It may well be the most fun you can have for a fiver in the city!

To view more of the fantastic promotional artwork of Simon Turner for 10 Bands 10 Minutes and other events/purposes please visit: http://simon­turner.blogspot.co.uk/

To keep up with Married to the Sea: http://marriedtothesea.co.uk/

Sean Ferguson