• Category Archives The Academy
  • Psychodiscography- Part Two

    Another day, another wander around the city centre. No rain this time, but still I didn’t get pictures of all the locations on the tourist music map. Nevertheless, on with the run down.

    The Town Hall- Albert Square.
    This grade one listed building is home to Manchester City Council, and where you will find the Tourist Information Centre. This is the location of the farewell party where the city said its tearful goodbyes to Take That. Voted the greatest boy band in history by Smash Hits readers in 2003, Gary Barlow continued with a successful song writing career writing for world artists such as Mariah Carey, Blue and Donny Osmond. The prodigal son, Robbie Williams started loving angels instead.

    And the other three- William of Orange, Curly and the pretty one- were never heard of again. They’re probably sleeping under the arches somewhere. 10CC, who I hadn’t realised were a Manchester band until I saw it on the side of a cow, played outside the Town Hall just prior to the start of the Commonwealth games.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    Free Trade Hall, Peter Street
    Now converted to the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, this was for almost 150 years the key musical destination for classical and popular music. In 1966 Bob Dylan was booed and called “Judas” by a Folk Music audience for returning for the second half of his set with rock and roll music. In July 1976, the Sex Pistols appeared twice in the smaller room here, invited by the Buzzcocks who supported them in the second concert. The audience was as remarkable as the Pistol’s performance. Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Tony Wilson, Morrissey and Linda Mulvey witnessed the raw power of Punk. Manchester’s musical history was about to be re-written.

    I’m not fond of that phrase. “History was about to be re-written”? What exactly does it mean? “History was about to be made”, maybe, but at the time of the concert the future had yet to happen. From that point musical history could be written, not re-written. It’s always best to get there first.

    Anyway. The Free Trade Hall was erected on the site of the Peterloo Massacre, which I’d always assumed had happened up the road in what is now St Peter’s Square. I really should have read the blue plaque.

    The Free Trade Hall closed as a venue in 1996. I never went to a concert there.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    G-Mex, Windmill Street
    The former Central Station, now the Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre, hosted many of the city’s biggest concerts from the mid-80s until the MEN Arena took over in the late 90s. It was here in 1986 that the “Festival of the Tenth Summer”- headlined by New Order and The Smiths– was held 10 years on from the Sex Pistols concerts at the Free Trade Hall. James also famously requested that the world “Sit Down” at this venue.

    Never been to a concert in G-Mex either.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    The Boardwalk, Little Peter Street
    Now awaiting redevelopment, this former church hall was once one of the key “Madchester” venues of the late 80s and early 90s. From its earlier association as a rehearsal space for Joy Division and the Halle Orchestra, these walls came to witness a role call of famous names including The Happy Mondays, The Charlatans, James and The Inspiral Carpets. The Boardwalk also saw the first performance of Oasis in 1992 with brother Noel in the line up for the first time playing “Rock and Roll Star” to an audience of around 20.

    I saw Terrorvision play at the Boardwalk, and a lesser known band called Bandit Queen. That was a decade ago. I must get out more.

    The Hacienda, Whitworth Street West
    The globally famous name of this influential club has been retained by new apartments which now occupy the site. Opened by Factory Records and subsidised by the success of New Order, the Hacienda (1982-1997) brought “house” music to Europe and made it a worldwide phenomena. The club and the character of Anthony H Wilson played a starring role in “24 Hour Party People“, the 2002 Michael Winterbottom movie. Mike Pickering, Dave Haslam, Graeme Park and Jon Da Silva were the world famous Djs and inspirational floor fillers for a generation of clubbers.

    I only went to the Hacienda twice. And the second time was because I was on the guest list. Still, I consider what they’ve done to it sacrilege.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    The Ritz, Whitworth Street West
    The longest continuously running club in the city by a stretch. This not only provided a backdrop for the classic Mancunian movie “A Taste of Honey” from 1961 but was also the scene of The Smiths first concert in 1982. the Ritz was immortalised in verse by punk poet John Cooper Clarke in “Salomey Maloney”. Local bands Doves and A Certain Ratio still play here. A tribute concert to Rob Gretton, manager of Joy Division and New Order and pivotal figure on the Manchester music scene was held on the 5th anniversary of his death in May 2004.

    The Ritz was always more my style than the Hac. And it has a bouncing dancefloor, one of the greatest sights is looking down from the balcony and seeing the rhythm ripple across the dancefloor as people jump up. Sti
    ll, the last time I was in there was years ago, I got a wee bit squiffy on White Lightning (street corner drunks’ favourite) cider, so I don’t remember what happened next.

    There’s a development of apartments next door, so at some point the wankers who move in will start complaining about the noise and try to get it shut down.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    The Cornerhouse, Oxford Road
    Manchester’s original art house with two cinemas showcasing international films and a well frequented bar and cafe. A popular haunt for city luminaries and philosophers (including Eric Cantona, when he is in town). Manchester musicians and cinema continue to receive rave reviews with Badly Drawn Boy (Damon Gough) writing the music to accompany Hugh Grant in “About A Boy“. Former Magazine and Bad Seeds band member Barry Adamson is credited with the soundtracks to The Beach and Scream 3.

    Tangential links there, but hey. I once won a Jive Bunny album in the Cornerhouse’s quiz.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    Music Box and Rockworld, Oxford Street
    Music Box provides some of the most progressive and interesting club nights in Manchester, hosting the twin legends that are Mr. Scruff’s “Keep It Unreal” and The Unabomber’s “Electric Chair” nights. It’s neighbour, Rockworld, is home to the legendary Friday all-nighters. This site formerly hosted the nightclubs Rafters and Fagins. The latter was the venue where Joy Division, playing as Warsaw in 1977, were picked up by Factory Records.

    Rockworld’s always fun, but it can be a bit disconcerting being the only person in light colours adrift in a sea of teen-Goths. Actually, that’s a lie. It’s getting close to one of my fantasies.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    Legends, Whitworth Street
    This was the second home to the famous Twisted Wheel from 1963 to 1971. The term “Northern Soul” was first coined by soul guru Dave Godin writing about the “Northern” scene at clubs like the Blackpool Mecca and the famous Wigan Casino, in the magazine Blues and Soul. Ben E. King, Jnr Walker, Joe Tex and Bob Earl have all walked through these doors. Recently revived Wheel nights pack the dance floor with Northern Souls who can still last the night.

    Oh crap. My research has really let me down here. I haven’t found Legends, or the building it’s in/ used to be in on my travels. I’ll try again later.

    Dry, Oldham Street
    Originally known as Dry 201, a reference to Factory Records famous cataloguing system, this was one of the first European style bars to open in Manchester. Designed by the Hacienda’s Ben Kelly, it was later to gain notoriety with its banning of local bad boys Liam Gallagher and Shaun Ryder.

    I don’t know. Back at its height, Dry was full of the sort of pretentious wankers I’ve always disliked. Maybe it’s better nowadays.

    Band on the Wall, Swan Street
    This Swan Street club is one of the oldest in the city with music played at this point for over 200 years. One of Manchester’s most prolific bands, The Fall, have graced its stage on occasion. Music writer and lecturer C P Lee has also appeared as a member of the unforgettable Albertos Y Los Trios Paranoias. A range of jazz, funk and soul nights make this one of Manchester’s most diverse attractions.

    This is turning into “how uncool is Ian”. I don’t think I’ve ever been to BotW. I would, y’know, if someone asked me…….

    This location has been mapped on Platial.

    Urbis, Cathedral Gardens
    A stunning new addition to Manchester’s skyline in 2002. This is a a museum “of the city”. It’s worth keeping an eye on this space as 2004’s offerings have featured a retrospective of influential Factory designer Peter Saville’s work and an exhibition on the music of Detroit and Manchester.

    Urbis is cool. Mainly I go in to check the shop, though, rather than the exhibitions. The Cathedral Gardens are where the kids hang out on a Saturday. The street furniture is great for skateboarding and BMXing on. So short-sighted busybodies try to get the kids fined for doing energetic things in a safe place and want to banish them back to the dark corners where drug dealers can sell to them more easily.

    This location ahs been mapped on Platial

    MEN Arena, Hunts Bank Way
    This is Europe’s largest indoor arena with 20,000 seats. The busiest concert venue on the planet with 823,000 paying guests in 2003. Every major artist in the world from Justin Timberlake and Kylie Minogue to REM play this venue. The arena marked Morrisey’s first return to Manchester after an absence of 12 years with his new album “You are the Quarry”.

    And I’ve never attended a concert here either. One day I’ll buy Daz a ticket to one of the WWE things they keep holding here.

    (Since I wrote this, I have been to the MEN twice. Once to collect at an Eighties nostalgia night and then to watch plank pushers doing stunts.)

    This location has been mapped on Platial.

    South, South King Street
    Tucked away at the back of South King Street this venue has changed its face from Bernards Bar to Stuffed Olives to Bar K but is now home to the popular “Rock and Roll Bar” on a Friday night. Haven to Manchester’s shoegazing community, a Mancunian male voice choir belting out “I am the Resurrection” can be heard from three blocks away.

    Also home to Clint Boon, formerly of Inspiral Carpets, on a Saturday. Which is when we normally end up down there. He has a policy to (almost) never play Inspirals songs, which is a shame.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    Granada, Quay Street
    The country’s premier independent TV company is famous for dramas such as “Prime Suspect” and “Cold Feet”, but best known for the soap “Coronation Street”. It has played a significant role
    in the city’s musical history, with the Beatles making their first TV performance here on 7 October 1962. Anthony Wilson presented the influential music programme “So It Goes” and premiered the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK” on this show.

    Once upon a time there was a programme called “The People’s Parliament”. As I was working in the Students’ Union at the time, I was asked to be one of the participants in the pilot episode, which was shot in the House of Commons set at Granada studios. When filming was over we were all bunged £20 (for “transport costs” no-one was being paid for participating). I hopped on a bus down to the Academy to watch Carter USM. They had recently had one of their songs used in a KP advert, so Jim Bob kept getting bags of peanuts thrown at him. After the gig I got on another bus, headed back into town, and rounded off the night at UMIST, buying people drinks with my “transport” money.

    Those were the days.

    This location has been mapped on Platial.

    And of course, there are my musical landmarks which aren’t on the map.

    Cyberia– One of the very first internet cafes in the world, Oxford Road. My sister was manager of Cyberia. One of the world’s first live webcasts, featuring 808 State, was held there in 1996 or ’97. It was supposed to be the opening night for their alcohol licence, but there were problems explaining the Information Superhighway to the old dears in charge of licensing, so it turned into a private party.

    Main Debating Hall/ Academy/ Pokey little hall upstairs the name of which I can’t remember at the University– Various gigs over the years, including Embrace, Carter USM, Echobelly and Frank Black.

    Old Trafford– This year’s Move festival.

    Various of the free festivals that get organised every year.

    Still, I do need to go and see more live music…….

    Originally published in Cycling on the Pavement in August 2004

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  • Fine Lines

    wearefinelines.co.uk, home of local band Fine Lines. They just appeared on the Revolution with that man Clint Boon (choon!). They’re playing Academy 3 this Wednesday.

    Plus, there are free downloads on their site to go towards the free music challenge.

    In the spirit of Boony I want to hear from unsigned bands, especially local ones. If you’ve got tracks to download that’ll be even better.

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  • Dirty Old Town

    I met my love by the gasworks wall

    Dreamed a dream by the old canal

    I kissed my girl by the factory wall

    Dirty old town, dirty old town

    Clouds are drifting across the moon

    Cats are prowling on their beat

    Springs a girl from the streets at night

    Dirty old town, dirty old town

    I heard a siren from the docks

    Saw a train set the night on fire

    I smelled the spring on the smokey wind

    Dirty old town, dirty old town

    I’m going to make me a big sharp axe

    Shining steel tempered in the fire

    I’ll chop you down like an old dead tree

    Dirty old town, dirty old town

    It’s another grey day in Manchester, but I do love this city. (Okay, the song’s really about Salford, but I have a dozen versions, including one by Frank Black. It was a bit shaming to see how few other people were singing along when he did his gig in the Academy last year.)