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Preview: Meow Meow, Rita Riot (Rita Requiem)

Meow Meow, Rita Riot (Rita Requiem)
The Oratory, Liverpool Cathedral, Liverpool Metropolitain Cathedral, Hope Street
Sat 10th & Sun 11th June 2017

Words, Patrick Kirk-Smith

Meow Meow, otherwise known as Melissa Madden Gray, might have misunderstood the UK when she was given this commission. We’re not used to floats, and spontaneous parades so it might be a slight shock to the system when she turns up on Hope Street to share her take on Lovely Rita with the city this weekend.

In possibly the most outrageously bizarre celebration of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which celebrated its 50th birthday last week, the critically acclaimed boundary pushing diva will parade on a float of umbrellas, wearing a giant dress made of parking tickets, belting out what is described as a ‘sonic installation’ inspired by Lovely Rita – changed, fairly appropriately to Rita Riot.

Meow Meow is a multi-ward winning cabaret performer, who raises eyebrows and affections wherever she goes, so quite how her take on Lovely Rita will go down is unclear. It will, definitely, be unprecidanted though, and that’s worth turning up for.

There’s a fair deal of secrecy around the actual contents of the events as yet, but the inspirations are incredibly clear. Lovely Rita is the grounds for the song, but its goes far beyond what is contained in the lyrics, and imagines a version of Rita as a real person.

The original song was penned as a love letter, of sorts, to someone Paul McCartney met in passing near Abbey Road. Buckets of imagination went into piecing together the puzzle in the lyrics, so Meow Meow will be trying her best to complete that puzzle in the show.

The song described a meter-maid, so naturally parking wardens are the absolute focus of Meow Meow’s performance. Where do they sleep, what do they dream of, who do they love, and where do they live? Questions you’d ask of any new friend, but difficult to piece together from the lyrics of a song about an imagined person… But, it was over active imaginations fuelled the album in its first incarnation, so a surreal, psychedelic parking attendant inspired musical parade is probably, in a mind boggling weird way, the perfect way to pay homage to an album of twists, turns and uncertain endings.

You can see this over-the-top travelling spectacle this weekend on and around Hope Street. We’ll be somewhere in the crowd trying to work out what’s going on, and loving the confusion as if we were a muddle note playing through the album itself.