With a little help from my friends
It’s official, the Eurovision Song Contest is coming to the United Kingdom in 2023 as a replacement host for Ukraine which tragically remains under attack from Russia. The cities shortlisted have now been published; Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield and we’ll find our more in the autumn.
These seven cities are all places I’m familiar with and all of them really could make it work. I do however have my favourites and my personal biases. If this is about size, then Manchester wins hands-down with its gigantic stadium that can hold up to 21,000 people, but size is not always what matters at the contest. In the past, places have been selected for all sorts of different reasons and the show is *almost* always a success, even tiny Millstreet in Ireland and Harrogate in the UK made it work, but things really are quite different now and size is undeniably one important factor.
More casual viewers may think the contest is a one night event, but it’s actually a multimedia, multilingual, multifarious showbiz juggernaut – one that takes a full year to effectively gestate. The selected venue must be exclusively available for several weeks before the grand finale in order to accommodate the elaborate stage construction and the various different shows for rehearsal, press, family shows and semi-finals. There also has to be adequate space to host a green room area and an international press centre, along with an adjacent zone for a ‘Eurovision village’ where faithful fans can party for the duration.
Here’s where I get biased. Liverpool’s waterfront was until very recently a World Heritage UNESCO site and this is where our largest stadium is located. The M&S Arena can seat around 11,000 people and has its own attached convention centre and access to an entire waterfront with many restaurants, hotels, access to the city centre and public transport. Everything in one place for all eventualities. This is on top of the fact that the city is in fact twinned with Odessa and is renowned for its friendliness and maritime history. It must not be forgotten that Ukraine actually won the contest in 2022 and their involvement and representation is crucial to the success of the event. Liverpool was selected as European Capital of Culture in 2008 and has amply demonstrated that it is an outward looking, dynamic city that can rise to any occasion and welcomes the world to its shores.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson: “We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and would like the opportunity for Liverpool to host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest and in doing so pay tribute to their wonderful country. We are an events city and no one can stage a party like us. Culture is synonymous with Liverpool and we tick all the boxes to be next year’s host… The event would become a beacon of hope around the world and we hope that Liverpool as an unrivalled music brand is given serious consideration by the decision-makers.”
The European Union also has some interesting things to say about Liverpool as a credible host city on the official page for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Liverpool’s undeniable musical heritage is something that cannot be overstated and it remains one of the city’s unique attributes. Liverpool gave birth to the Fab Four (The Beatles – though The Real Thing, Echo and the Bunnymen and many others could also claim that title) and their legacy remains evident and relevant to this day. There are so many Beatles’ song titles that could work as a theme for the contest in 2023 – ‘We can work it out’, ‘All you need is love’, Let it be’ and All together now, (a song that also shares its title with that of another anthem by another Liverpool band, The Farm.)
For me however, with my creative hat on and an eye for branding potential, it has to be ‘With a little help from my friends’. This Beatles song from 1967 is known by virtually everyone and thanks to various cover versions, including one by Wet Wet Wet in 1988, is cross generational. With its perennial theme of collectivism, compassion and care, the song’s theme is as relevant today as it ever was, perhaps even more so now, as Europe needs to demonstrate a united front against invading aggressors. This is something that song can sometimes do better than anything else.
We’ve got the venue, the energy, the people and the will to make this happen, and with a little help from our friends, we really can. Sing along now…