The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


REPORT: The JAMs In Liverpool, Day One
Patrick Clarke , August 23rd, 2017 23:08

The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu have begun their chaotic return. Our man on the ground Patrick Clarke reports back from day one of Liverpool: Welcome To The Dark Ages

At 23 minutes past midnight, as promised, an ice cream van careened around the corner of Liverpool's News From Nowhere, a looping section of the band's track 'What Time Is Love' clattering from its siren. Ford Timelord, the police car that fronted their 'Doctorin The Tardis' single was also careening around the street.

Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, aka The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, aka The KLF, jumped out of the ice cream van, which also had a coffin in the back, and entered the bookshop. Celebrating the release of their new novel, 2023, which puports to be written by a so-called 'George Orwell', the pseudonym of one Roberta Antonia Wilson, the two stamped each and every copy held by an enormous queue of eager punters, before disappearing once more.

12 hours later, the 400 'volunteers' who purchased a ticket to 'Liverpool: Welcome To The Dark Ages', were summoned to the city's Constellations bar, to be assigned their jobs. Upon buying their tickets, all fans automatically agreed to be 'part of the performance', and on collecting their wristbands had to detail any relevant skills.

A band, Badger Kull, has been formed from the volunteers, and are currently rehearsing for their one and only performance this Friday. Other ticket holders have been ordered to become rabid mega-fans of the band. Facebook fansites have been formed, posters and t-shirts are being designed, and Badger Kull graffiti has begun to spread throughout the city. At least one person has had a permanent Badger Kull tattoo.

At 8pm the 400 regrouped once more at the Black E, a space in Liverpool's Chinatown district, for an event entitled 'Why Did the K Foundation Burn A Million Quid?', an inquest in order to finally find an answer after 23 years.

Chaired by Tom James, five panelists - the conceptual artist Jeremy Deller, the arts academic Annebella Pollen, Tom Hodgkinson of Idler magazine, the economist Ann Pettifor, and Clive Martin of Vice - were each invited to give a presentation on what they thought to be the answer to the titular question, with 400 attendees asked to vote on which they thought was correct, if any. An outcome would only be deemed conclusive if it won at least 23% of the vote.

A series of 'witnesses' were also called upon to speak, recounting the events of the burning itself, and the subsequent film tour that followed to widespread dissarray as the K Foundation screened the footage of their destruction of the money.

The band's longtime collaborator Gimpo and the journalist Jim Reid, both of whom were on the island of Jura when Drummond and Cauty burnt the money recounted the experience, while long-term publicist Mick Houghton and the editor of the book The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid, Chris Brook, followed them.

A group of those who were in attendance for the particularly riotous Liverpool screening of the footage also spoke of the strange mix of anger and inspiration the film inspired in them.

Meanwhile Craig McClane, then a reporter for Scotland on Sunday, recalled the disastrous first day of the tour, a shambolic 24 hours in Glasgow, and the subsequent write-up of the band's 23-year moratorium, in which they set out that they would not reappear until this day.

Finally John Higgs, the author of the acclaimed book The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds closed off the statements with a brief discussion on the influence of discordianism and reality tunnels, before the initial five arguments were put to a public vote.

In the end, it was deemed by over 23% of the crowd that Annebella Pollen's argument was suitable, that "The K Foundation burnt a million pounds as part of a deep tradition of historical weirdness". She gave a presentation based around the striking and unsettling similarities between Drummond and Cauty and the bizarre 'Kibbo Kift' organisation of the 1920s.

The K Foundation themselves were brought before the inquest to hear the verdict, with Drummond and Cauty typically unphased by the outcome. "Did anyone understand a word of what Gimpo just said?" asked Cauty.

Read the rest of our coverage of The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu in Liverpool:

Day Two
Day Three