Everyone has had their say about the complete and utter cock-up that was the Hope & Glory Festival. Held at St George’s Hall, the event was cancelled after a first day of ineptitude that made us all long for the heady (muddy) days of the Knowsley Hall Music Festival. What went wrong? Why did it go wrong? What happens next? Who knows… but we know who should have all the answers. By Alan O’Hare.

What a mess.

What matters now is that people get their money back. What matters is that artists and employees are paid in full. What matters is those who had tickets in their hands. What really matters is that this is never allowed to happen again.

The rest? It doesn’t matter. Those who paid in advance to watch a load of bands play in an iconic location are the people that really matter… and, for the most part, they’re a silent majority right now. Sure, there’s hundreds of paying punters typing replies and comments to those, now-infamous, impotent and impudent Tweets and Facebook posts from Hope & Glory Festival, but it’s the Liverpool music and arts community whose voice is making sure it is heard.

That’s wrong – we should be giving a voice to those who were, at best, ripped off and, at worse, placed in danger.

I spoke to music fan John Kidd about what really happened once punters paid to penetrate those horrific corrugated iron protectors that attached themselves like shit on a stick to one of the city’s greatest buildings…

“We queued for forty minutes to get to the gate about 1.30pm on Saturday. Once inside, we realised stage times were already running around ninety minutes late. The sound wasn’t great, either, and I immediately felt the bass drum thudding into my chest. The singer from The Pigeon Detectives nearly had an accident when he jumped onto the monitor and it wasn’t secure… but, when they finished their set, we spotted the guy who was doing onstage sound putting his coat and bag over his shoulder and leaving! This left another tech running from mic to mic and swapping leads etc., with no sound coming from anywhere – then I clocked him mouth ‘what the fu*k is going on?’ to the mixing desk, so we took our leave and went for a wander around the site.

“We clocked the toilets and bar, as you do, and everyone seemed in good spirits – though I did notice people were sat on any available space in the gardens. Then, around 5pm, we started to notice massive queues forming for everything and getting from the main arena to the gardens and back was taking an age due to a massive bottleneck forming. The Fratellis and Razorlight came and went and the main arena was absolutely packed. There was also a third stage which was a waste of space; that would have been better served hosting more facilities or space for people to use.

“Capacity? I’d estimate a few thousand people should have been the maximum – but the thing I really recall is saying to my mate that it was a good job it wasn’t raining or the thousands of people in the gardens would get up off the grass outside and join us in an already packed arena… ”

There’s a primary source telling you how close we came to a disaster. But, it wasn’t a disaster. Ultimately, Hope & Glory Festival, just like its branding, was a complete and utter shambles that Liverpool City Council need to own and put all paying punters clearly in the picture about. LCC also need to offer plentiful, transparent information and support to those who now face a fight to get what they deserve. O’Hanlon and Eventbrite et al will be getting their ducks in a row ready to keep the money. That’s a given. After all, it’s not what you know that counts… it’s who you know.

What did you know, Mayor Joe Anderson?

A quick Google by punters, bloggers and journalists revealed all of O’Hanlon’s ‘previous’; so how much due diligence did the council put in to ensuring that Hope & Glory Festival had the credentials, creativity and cash to pull this off? As late as Friday, legendary local DJ Billy Butler was attempting to get answers to concerns he raised on-air about the validity of the site for a music festival. Who will take responsibility for the answers to all these questions? So far, so slippery. O’Hanlon has been up all night answering questions online and guesting on self-serving talk radio shows –  but we’ve had no statements from the police or emergency services. Where are Liverpool City Council? “There will be an urgent inquiry into what went disastrously wrong here. When that has concluded, LCC will make a response,” said the mayor. Sorry, tweeted the mayor. Nothing went ‘disastrously wrong’, though, Joe… but it could have. Where would you be then?

All of us within the Merseyside arts community know how hard the likes of Africa Oyé, Pride and Biennial have to work to get the city to lend a hand. And we also know exactly what they know; as success after success highlights our cultural calendar.

Who did Lee O’Hanlon know?

Know your rights

Pic courtesy Mashable UK