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Haçienda Classical review – a classic Madchester rave at The Bridgewater Hall

A soulful synching between the DJs and Camerata...

In Manchester, we aren’t afraid to be different. To add our own little twist of individuality. It’s that very attitude that has created a musical movement which resonates round the world. Why we’re proud to say we’re from Manchester…

Much as I’m a sensible media man these days, I’m unashamed to say I am party to the occasional feeling of anguish at not having my melon suitably twisted.

Somebody once said: “The day Manchester stops dancing is the same day Hell freezes over.” It might have been some slobbering weirdo in a pub who said it, but I’m having it.

In a similar vein, and don’t quote me on it, but I think it was Mark Twain who said “if Bez is on it, I’m on it”. Bez is always on it.

With this mentality ingrained in the city, it’s thankfully lucky we are hardly short of inspiration. Tony Wilson’s work behind some of Manchester’s most successful bands in the Madchester years (New Order etc) is what cemented the Haçienda in the late 80s and 90s.

To be fair, ‘Mr Manchester’ is generally credited but if Gary from the Kingsway pub on a Tuesday is to be believed, it was actually him rather than Tony who was the pivotal cog in the wheel.

And so, harking back to the fun times of many a Manny youth, I went to the Hacienda Classical to try my out-of-raving-shape paces. Bez was on it. I had to. (Pictured)

The night saw the city’s experimental orchestra, Manchester Camerata, and DJ legends Mike Pickering and Graeme Park collaborate on a continuous set of Haçienda classics. As well as some vocal legends. A different take on the iconic sound of acid house. It’s the soulful synching between the DJs and orchestra who elaborate the original instruments. A clash of two musical worlds.

Hacienda Classical Orchestra

The night cost about £30 for a ticket. Plus a jaw ache, feeling of self-loathing, and an inexplicable hankering for grapefruit the next day. Not to mention around 20 years of misfortune. The Haçienda opened in 1982 and, despite losing on average a tenner per head every night, survived until 1997 when it closed. The name, however, will live on forever.

It was more about the customer experience than profit. A small price to pay to build a legacy.

A wonderful array of revellers who – to the naked eye – looked every inch the classical Bridgewater crowd rather than their not-so-inner raver to a loop of black & white video footage from The Hacienda NYE in 1995/96.

The same nostalgic Madchester camaraderie of ‘sharing two’s on the last cig outside the Hacienda’ seemed to have transitioned seamlessly to the plush surroundings in the most heart-warming sort of a way.

With the demographic being largely 30s-40s, it was strangely and enjoyably noticeable that nearly nobody was waving or preening into a smart phone. People living and experiencing rather than pouting and trouting.

Time to take to the seats in the right hand circle.

Some highlights were:

♥ A bloke buying another man’s entire round of drinks because he accidentally pushed in front of him at the bar.

♥ Manchester rapper MC Tunes’ introduced ‘legendestest’ DJs Graeme Park and Mike Pickering to centre stage.

♥ Former Hacienda co-owner Peter Hook played bass and sang New Order’s Blue Monday. Quality.

♥ Eyes closed arms up to Marshall Jefferson’s Move Ur Body, violins played the riff from Black Box’s tune Ride on Time.

♥ Happy Mondays’ front man Shaun Ryder rocked up cig in mouth and sang ‘Hallelujah’ with some assistance from Bez in an unorthodox golf-style jumper. How he didn’t trip over a music stand I don’t know.

♥ Rowetta’s version of ‘U Got the Love’ made a joyful cool-down as she showcased her devoted custom yellow and black draping dress.

In all, a classical rave indeed. And a mad messy one at that. I had no choice, Bez was on it.

If you missed out and are dying to get a bit of the modern Hacienda action, the next Manchester event is at Castlefield Bowl on July 2nd. More info on the Facebook Event Page here.

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