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Living Brain at Brian’s Diner

living brain at Brian's Diner 1995

Living brain’s first ever gig at Brian’s Diner

Just found some old ‘analogue’ photos from the first ever living brain gig at Brian’s Diner. This is when the band was a two piece with Ged Lynn and Lars Gabel.

We drank as much tea as The Rutles at their peak
– Ged Lynn

See the photos here, or read on…

Brian’s Diner was a large café bar squirrelled just off the main drag of Liverpool town centre on Stanley Street–Just beyond where the music shops are, or where: Rushworth’s, Hessy’s and Curly’s.

Outside is the Eleanor Rigby statue. Make a point to sit with her when you visit town.

Brian’s Diner was the place to plot after visiting the music shops. Escaping the hustle bustle of the town centre (especially on a Saturday!). Always a good feeling going in the door and up the steps. You’d be greeted by a good tune, animated conversation and maybe a hello from Gloria, Ben or Brian at the counter. Weaving through the thick green-glossed pillars and over bare floorboards to a booth and sitting under the large steamed-up windows with a pot of tea in that place was bliss. There was a giant oompah band bass drum on the wall. There were other instruments I think too, but the bass drum was enormous.

The gigs at Brian’s were legendary. There’d be the build up. We had no phones then, so it was all in the street: You going? Yeah, You going? Yeah. Sound, see you laters. la. What was better was when the living brain played: You gonna see the brain at brian’s? A dyslexic’s nightmare and I’m sure a few photocopied flyers did actually say living brian at brain’s diner.

The night gigs would usually have at least five bands playing. It would be £3 to get in, which was already pretty cheap. You’d get a raffle ticket when you paid. At midnight, in a break between bands, there’d be a mad rush around the bar and kitchen as producing your raffle ticket at midnight got you a plate of veggie curry. £3 for five or six bands AND a plate of curry.

Just found these pictures. I should point out that the graininess is not a limitation of the analogue film technology, but ironically, of a more modern analogue to digital conversion in a high-speed scanner. At some point, I’ll have access to a darkroom again and hand print these properly. Kind of like the ghostly look though :-

living brain at Brian’s Diner photos

Further reading

Life at Brian’s

Beautiful vignette about Brian, Gloria and some colourful Liverpool characters, as well as early Echo & the Bunnymen jams in between:

Part One

Part Two


A little on Rushworth’s:

Curly’s seem to still be going:

A little nugget of video on Hessy’s. This is where my guitar came from– the one Lars is playing in the living brain pictures:



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Café Tabac

Café Tabac, David Lynch Twin Peaks look

Café Tabac, Bold Street, Liverpool.

Anyone knowing this address is likely to turn a little smile.

Café Tabac, Liverpool table with coffee and art thingsThis café is a hinge on which the world turns. I have drunk more coffee in here than probably all other cafés in the world put together. I have had first dates in here, started bands, started revolutions, ended wars and made world peace, I have met a friend here for the last time before he took his own life. Sat there with his mother; Met strangers who became friends on the first day of university, and are friends still. I’ve also probably drawn more pictures on its tables than anywhere else too.

It’s not the best café by a long shot, but its location… it’s simply a pivot on which a certain aspect of Liverpool life is hinged.

You finish up a mad shop in town and need to escape. You climb Bold Street, aiming for the bombed out church. Last on the right and there it is. In the winter, steamed up windows. Open that door and there’s bound to be someone you know in there. If not, in a few minutes, there’ll be a cold blast and in will come people you know with that ‘I can’t believe I survived shopping in town’ face you had just now.

Café Tabac has been done up and made over. To be fair, it looked the same for nearly twenty years.

The ‘new’ Café Tabac has lost some of its warmth. By that, I mean the stickiest cork topped tables anywhere. There’s something a little bit half finished about the décor now, it’s faux something, but you can’t tell what. Uncool Retro. I don’t mean to be unkind.

It’s still nice sitting in there with friends, wincing at the modern prices and choosing only drinks. It used to be pretty competitive and brisk in trade. They seem to prefer pricing at a point where it never really fills up any more. The coffee is a bit too good now, too.

But it’s still got something, and it is always somewhere I’ll visit when I go to Liverpool.

Café Tabac drawings

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Marwood Café

This is my new favourite café! It’s basically a grown ups fantasy child home; Star Wars spaceships dive and swoop above the counter. Sharks emerge from the wall chewing up Starbucks cups as they go. Even the front door shakes your hand as you leave. The coffee is excellent. The cake is apparently life-changing. I didn’t have any, but the savoury spinach and feta muffins are damn fine.