From: Cary Grant
Category: Other stuff
Date: 11 March 2002


Manchester: the city where the industrial revolution began. LS Lowry. The Hollies. The Bee Gees. Coronation Street. 10cc. The Buzzcocks. The Fall. Joy Division. New Order. The Smiths. Acid house. The Hacienda. Manchester City (not Manchester United). James. The Stone Roses (not The Charlatans). The Happy Mondays. Simply Red (Stars is a great album). M People. Take That. Oasis. Not so much to answer for.

Now Manchester is home to Cold Feet and Badly Drawn Boy. The nightlife is all swanky bars in redeveloped railway arches, where Cold Feet characters would feel comfortable (even the yuppy couple). Or wilfully obscure hip hop, funk and electro nights in clubs that are really just swanky bars with a sound system. The combination of police and gangsters shut down all the clubs except the really bad ones and the ones that are just swanky bars with a sound system. Sankey's Soap reopened and I haven't been back but conceptually it strikes me as being a bit like Wigan Pier reopening (I think it is open actually - as a museum). Besides, dance music is way past its peak, especially house, and nowhere is this more apparent than the city that started it all in the UK.

It says it all about Manchester that the best night in recent memory was the shooting of 24 Hour Party People, the Tony Wilson biopic (posing as the story of Factory Records). A brick-for-brick replica Hacienda was built in a warehouse in Ancoats. The one thing that saved it from becoming Hacienda: the tribute night was the presence of 16 year-old kids alongside the former Saturday night regulars circa 1989. The last record played, (by Dave Haslam, a broadsheet journalist) was Unfinished Sympathy, which empitomises the transition of both the city and club's former regulars from club to coffee table. Even the shopping centre is a ghost town now, since the IRA bombed the Southern part of it and the enormous Trafford Centre opened to the West of the city. A new development called Printworks contains dozens of cinema screens and chain restaurants - approximately one per customer.

The city's past - industrial and cultural - still looms large over it, but its soul has been sucked away or at least displaced.

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