28th Jun, 2022

MUSIC MATTERS - The Coventry influence on the Expo Dubai 2020 and Raw Records' rare Specials Bob Maeley cover

Coventry Editorial 10th Feb, 2022

Coventry Music Museum curator Pete Chambers reporting this week from Dubai, UAE.

Expo Dubai 2020 opens with the help of a Coventry poet

Well, after a false start and cancelled holiday due to me coming down with Covid just before we were about to go, we finally flew out thanks to Swiss air and Neil at Southall Travel who were amazing and helped us rebuild our trip.

Like Coventry’s UK City of Culture 2021, Expo 2020 was also delayed, now it’s finally up-and-running in sunny Dubai, and it’s a magnificent sight, or sights to be more exact. Dubai does not do things by half so it is no surprise that breathtaking is the word for this greatest show on earth.

Just about every country in the world is represented here, including the UK pavilion that even has a local connection too.

Looking like a sci-fied mega-tree laid on its side the bottom of the UK pavilion is bedecked with a series of screens, each one displaying various words and messages. Powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) it includes more than 500,000 lines of poetry and can create its own pros using the words stored in its electronic brain.

Entitled ‘The Collective Message’ it was created by Es Devlin.

One piece included is that of Coventry legend Philip Larkin and the iconic poem ‘The Trees’.

Visitors can contribute words they feel describe humanity, or life on Earth, to the ‘Collective Message’ which the AI will use to generate poetic couplets.

These will be projected onto the UK pavilion for six months, forming one huge poem.

I added the word ‘Phoenix’ for me it stands for a City of Peace and Reconciliation with a gift of 2-Tone unity and the Godiva spirit.

Straight away a message was made up that read: ‘My mother said this was and he was so beautiful like a pheonix’.

It’s hard to pick just a few areas in this epic exhibition, but I loved the Jamaican pavilion and its tribute to Reggae legend Bob Marley and to all its many heroes, it may be a small island, but Jamaica has had a huge influence on the world, not least in area of gastronomy and of course music.

No wonder it has already made the coolest pavilion top ten with its heady mix of reggae booming out.

The UK Pavilion was not really inspiring beyond its AI.

For me The Australian Pavilion was the gold standard with huge 360 degree films and engaging Australians from all walks of life.

Expo 2020 is an amazing event, something I am so glad to have seen.

The sound of Coventry spreads wide even into Dubai,

Raw Records is the newest record shop in the city and here I was delighted to find a rare promotional 12ins copy of The Specials singing the Bob Marley song ‘Hypocrite’.

A much longer established record shop – The Flip Side -has also sold many Coventry artists including The Specials and Delia Derbyshire.

It is a small world.

And I even found another Coventry link – Nav Mann (former BBC CWR) is doing a poetry reading at the British pavilion.

I randomly met her in Dubai.

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