The Town Hall bells struck out a sombre tone, announcing to the people of Leeds that something strange was happening, something not quite of this world.
Saturday shoppers were serenaded in an eerie minor key by children clad in capes and black caps. Ghostly dancers sprang from the shadows and Charon, the mythological ferryman who took the newly-dead across the River Styx found himself doing a bit of moonlighting on the River Aire underneath our city.
For three days this weekend, Leeds has had an out-of-this-world experience with OverWorlds and UnderWorlds, Yorkshire’s artistic contribution to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. A kind of arty Olympics except without the running or the medals.
The city streets were full of music and dance, but with a decidedly underworld theme. Opera North’s junior choir, dressed in black capes and caps sang from the balcony in the Victoria Quarter. In a stroke of genius the dank, smelly underused Dark Arches which channel the River Aire away from the city and provide car parking for people who don’t like to see their vehicles in daylight and a refuge for pigeons very large rats,was transformed into a theatre with performances from Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance. Each cavern had something different, scoring between one and 11 on the Spooky Scale, which wasn’t a bad thing, in fact it was brilliant, in a spooky kind of way.