Terminal Jive

Creative projects by Abigail Ward

Author: Abigail Ward (page 2 of 4)

Manchester Academy Memories

Manchester District Music Archive is proud to launch a new digital exhibition created in partnership with the University of Manchester Students’ Union.

The exhibition, Manchester Academy Memories, documents the history of concerts and club life at the Students’ Union from 1963 to the present day and has been curated by Abigail Ward (MDMA) and Rod Connolly.

It features 435 digitised artefacts relating to artists such as Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, The Slits, Daft Punk, Björk, Nirvana, The Kinks, Adele, Prince and Led Zeppelin. Many of these items, which include tickets, photos, press articles and videos, have been uploaded to the archive by the general public.

An introductory essay by Abigail Ward, written to accompany the digital exhibition, is reproduced below:

Manchester Academy Memories: Concerts & Club Life at the University of Manchester 1963-2016

“When entering for the first time a town like Manchester, a stranger, overwhelmed by the new and interesting spectacle presented to him, scarcely dares look this giant full in the face at once…” From “Ireland, Scotland and England” by J.G.Kohl, 1844.

*

‘You ask him.’

‘No, you ask him!’

‘No, you!

This was how it would start.

For my sister and I, aged thirteen and fifteen respectively, the first hurdle to be cleared after seeing an enticing Manchester Academy gig advertised in Melody Maker was persuading our dad to give us a lift. We lived in Preston and were a bit young for the perils of the last train home. We’d been very focused on music since being toddlers, really, but in 1992 things moved up a gear after we experienced our first big gigs: Michael Jackson at Wembley and James at Alton Towers. By 1993 we were in full throttle, obsessed with live music and constantly hatching schemes to witness our heroes play, more often than not at the Academy or one of its smaller sister venues in Manchester University Students’ Union. All I wanted to do was move to Manchester – the music city. By ‘94 I’d managed to move out of my parents’ house and by ‘95 my sister and I had our own band. Three years later, I achieved my ultimate dream: a council flat in sunny Longsight, a mere skip and a jump from the Academy. I started working in a record shop. Listening, playing, watching, selling. I had landed.

During the nineties, I saw some unforgettable gigs at Academy venues, including Manic Street Preachers, Jeff Buckley, PJ Harvey, Tricky and Pulp. (It killed me that I couldn’t get into Bowie in ‘97.) These were potent moments in my young life – euphoric, boozy, full of mystery. I would scrutinise the mix, the drums, guitar pedals, mics, keen to learn how it all worked. Gigs were physically demanding at times (especially at the Academy), and not without the occasional pang of sadness. I can still see Richey Edwards at the Academy in ‘94, rail-thin and scabby, hanging over his microphone stand like James Dean in Giant, not even pretending to play guitar any more.

I saved all of my tickets, many of which feature in this digital exhibition, which has been an absolute joy to curate. Funded by the University of Manchester Students’ Union, the project was conceived as a way of celebrating the 25th anniversary of Academy 1, whilst exploring the cultural legacy of all of the University venues, from 1963 to the present day. And it’s not just about the big names that have passed through the venues, it’s about the social and political histories that are inextricably entwined with the music. These are particularly evident in the cuttings we’ve included from student newspapers The Manchester Independent and the Mancunion. We hope you enjoy these glimpses into student life across the decades.

Whilst I did spend a number of days seeking out material for this project in physical archives, many of the items included have been uploaded by the general public: crowd-sourced heritage in action! Thank you to everyone who has made a contribution.

Ticket: Jeff Buckley, Manchester University, 1995. Courtesy: Abigail Ward

Ticket: Jeff Buckley, Manchester University, 1995. Courtesy: Abigail Ward

Manchester Academy (now Academy 1) opened in 1990 on Oxford Road, following years of debate about an extension to the main Students’ Union building (erected 1957) a little further down the road. Gigs and club nights had been promoted by the Union since 1963 across a number of places:

The Main Debating Hall (now Academy 2)
The Hop and Grape (formerly Solem Bar, now Academy 3)
The Cellar (now Club Academy)
UMIST (the Tech Union/Undergound/Barnes Wallis Building)
Whitworth Hall (no longer used for gigs)
The Squat (now demolished)

But it was time for a purpose-built venue with a bigger capacity.

Costing £1.2 million, the Academy originally housed a bank, a bar and a catering facility. It opened with a capacity of 1500, rising to 2000 soon after. It was run on a commercial basis; profits from band nights and club nights were funnelled back into the Students’ Union. Fittingly, the first musicians to grace the stage were Manchester punk icons Buzzcocks on October 7th 1990.

Taken from the Mancunion newspaper, written and edited by University of Manchester students.

Some months before the opening, the Union appointed a full-time Entertainments and Marketing Manager, Sean Morgan, who swiftly entered into a partnership with Manchester-based promoters SJM Concerts (founded by Simon Moran), allowing SJM first option on gig dates for local and visiting artists. Live music was flourishing nationwide; it was boom time for both parties.

In an interview for this project in September 2016, Morgan said, ‘I was ambitious. I was empire-building. I wanted to run the biggest venue complex in the country and put the most gigs on. At one point we put twenty-six bands on in one week.’

‘We worked really hard to see off the competition. Bands and their crews knew that if they came to the Academy, we’d look after them, y’know, take ‘em out on the lash afterwards. They could go to the International 2 [in Longsight] and be stuck out in the middle of nowhere, or they could come to us and get looked after.’

During Sean’s 21-year tenure he was responsible for booking some huge names across all four Academy venues, including Nirvana, Radiohead, Dizzee Rascal, Daft Punk, Patti Smith, Blur, Eminem, The Chemical Brothers and Amy Winehouse. He claims the best gig he ever saw at the Academy was David Bowie in 1997.

‘Bowie was doing a tour of 2000-capacity venues and approached the Academy to play. It was always going to be a “yes”. His sheer showmanship and presence were amazing.’

But Sean’s proudest moments were bringing over his beloved American country stars Townes Van Zandt in 1994 and Scotty Moore (Elvis’s guitarist ) ten years later.

Morgan also oversaw scores of successful club nights, citing rave night Solstice ’91, with resident DJ Dave Booth, as the best atmosphere he ever experienced at the Academy.

In 2011 Sean left the Union and now works for Academy Music Group (no relation). In September 2013, following further refurbishment, the capacity of Academy 1 was increased to 2,600. The venue celebrated its 25th anniversary with a string of significant gigs throughout 2015-16, including Buzzcocks, Garbage and Happy Mondays.

David Bowie ticket book, 1997. Courtesy of Sean Morgan.

David Bowie ticket book, 1997. Courtesy of Sean Morgan.

But how did it all begin?

The Union’s early forays into concert promotion are documented, albeit sketchily, in student newspaper The Manchester Independent. Jazz bandleader Humphrey Lyttleton kicks things off in 1963. A mere two years later Socials Secretary Chris Wright (future co-founder of Chrysalis Records) is booking the likes of the Spencer Davis Group, The Who and The Yardbirds. A Kinks gig at the Rag Ball in March ‘65, however, ends in ‘confusion and brawls’ as the band is bottled off stage. Gig reviews from this period often hint at an element of chaos! Jimi Hendrix stops by in 1967. We’ve included a rarely seen interview with Jimi at the Union by Jill Nichols culled from the Independent.

An interesting story featured in this exhibition is that of the Corporation Act 1965 – a law that allowed venues to be closed on the spot by police if they suspected staff or punters were up to no good. In ‘65 there were around two hundred beat music clubs in Manchester (hard to imagine). They were mainly booze-free members only clubs where young people would drink coffee and dance all night to beat groups. But by the end of ‘66, following the introduction of the act, there were just three clubs remaining. The act was highly unusual in that it was passed by parliament, but applied only to one UK city: Manchester. The city’s music scene was decimated.

In an exclusive interview for this project (which you can listen to within the exhibition), cultural historian Dr. CP Lee says: ‘Against the background of the Corporation Act, it’s hard to overstate the importance of Manchester University for music fans at this time. It was a lifeline. It was our lifeblood. I virtually lived there, even though I wasn’t a student.’

Moving into the early seventies and one of the most intriguing episodes in the Union’s history begins: The Squat.

The Squat was originally the old College of Music. It was situated on Devas Street, between where Big Hands and the Contact Theatre are now. In October of 1973, after the University threatened to demolish the building in favour of a car park, it was occupied by a group of students who were protesting against three things: the student accommodation crisis, the lack of facilities provided by the University for community activities and the proposed demolition of the music college itself. The Squat was turned into a multi-purpose ‘art lab’, with spaces for theatre projects, gigs, band rehearsal and visual art.

For a time, the occupation was financed by a weekly music night held on a Friday in collaboration with Music Force, the socialist music agency put together by, amongst others, renowned blues guitarist Victor Brox and jazz drummer Bruce Mitchell (Greasy Bear, Albertos, Durutti Column).  Music Force was set up in part as a response to the effects of the Corporation Act, which had resulted in a paucity of work for Manchester’s once very busy musicians. The collective provided everything you might require to put a concert on: musicians, PA and equipment hire, flyposting, the full works. The Squat and Music Force both played vital roles in the Manchester punk and post-punk scenes. During its 8-year life the venue played host to New Order, The Fall, The Stranglers, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias and several Rock Against Racism nights.

1981 was a great year for music, which filtered through to gigs at the Union. Bookings included U2, The Au Pairs, Aswad, The Cramps, Linton Kwesi Johnson and The Beat. Things seem to slow down a little gig-wise in the mid-80s, but the Cellar Disco (now Club Academy) packed the punters in. One exhibition contributor reminisces about doing a disastrous drunken somersault in there to the strains of Caberet Voltaire’s ‘Nag Nag Nag’!

1989 saw visits from indie royalty The Happy Mondays, My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. Then in October 1990 the Academy opens and ticket sales go through the roof. The Charlatans, Northside and New Model Army do two sell-out nights apiece. The LA’s, Paul Weller and Devo also stop by.

Which brings us back to where we started. It’s 1993 and I’m getting the breath shoved out of my lungs at my first ever Academy show: Smashing Pumpkins and Verve. Dad is making a pint last four hours over the road at Jabez Clegg. My plan to move to the city is a tiny seed in my fourteen-year-old mind.

This digital exhibition is full of great stories from true music fans: in 1968 a young audience member is gifted a harmonica by Captain Beefheart in the Main Debating Hall. In 1992 the drummer from Pavement confuses everyone by handing out carrots to the audience. In 1995 a sixteen-year-old Julian Cope fan gets a full snog with tongues from her hero in the Academy. Around the same time a clubber at Megadog spends the entire night in a toilet cubicle and has the time of her life.

This project is dedicated to those fans – to everyone who has taken the time to share a memory; to Manchester District Music Archive’s team of volunteers; and also to my dad, who took me to the Academy in the first place all those years ago.

Advert for Captain Beefheart taken from The Manchester Independent, 1968. Courtesy of the University of Manchester Students' Union

Advert for Captain Beefheart taken from The Manchester Independent, 1968. Courtesy of the University of Manchester Students’ Union

Notes:

• If you would like to contribute an artefact or story, just upload it to Manchester District Music Archive and we will add it to the exhibition.
• Only bands/artists from Greater Manchester are searchable in our database.
• If we are unsure of the exact venue the artefact relates to, or if it relates to several Union venues, we have used the tag Manchester University.
• Dates added to press articles refer to the publication date rather than the gig date.
• Gig ladders are usually dated with the earliest date on the advert.
• Due to time and budget constraints many press articles have been photographed quickly, sometime in poor light, rather than scanned.
• We’ve done our best to credit photographers and journalists clearly. Please give us a shout if we’ve missed something: info@mdmarchive.co.uk

Imperfect Motion – early 90s daydream indie and imitations thereof

Last Sunday I did an ‘in conversation’ event in Shrewsbury with writer and historian Jon Savage. The subject was baggy/Madchester/The Stone Roses, and Jon’s recent compilation ‘Perfect Motion – The Secret History Of Second Wave Psychedelia 1988-93’, which offers a different take on that brief dayglo period.

I am something of a Madchester sceptic. I was too young to appreciate the first wave and by the time I started going out around ’93 it felt like tired music that belonged to the people I wanted to avoid – thick lads who would bang into you on the dancefloor for kicks.

When it came to DJing at the event I decided simply to play some records that meant a lot to me at that time, and some more recent stuff that is audibly in thrall to that era.

Idjut Boys – Dub Shine (2015)

This came out on the Idjuts’ ‘Versions’ album from last year. Does it for me.

Kirsty Maccoll feat Johnny Marr & Aniff Akinola – Walking Down Madison (1991)
‘It’s not that far…’

I miss Kirsty. Can you imagine what she’d have to say about the current political climate?

Steve Mason – Words In My Head (2016)
Will you love me when I fall?’

Just seemed to fit. The ‘words in his head’ aren’t up to much, admittedly.

The Boo Radleys – Lazarus (1993)
‘While those around me are beaten down each day…’

Their masterpiece. Boos guitarist Martin Carr lived in Preston (my hometown) at this time. In our social circle there was much discussion about who’d seen Martin last, where it was (Action Records?) and if he’d said anything. Desperate times indeed.

The House of Love – Feel (1992)
‘Twenty-five/sick of life’

I was 14 when the ‘Babe Rainbow’ album came out. I first heard ‘Feel’ on Mark Goodier’s Evening Session. I played it to death that year, along with ‘Automatic For The People’ and The The’s ‘Dusk’. My Maths teacher at the time was content to let me listen to my Alba walkman at the back of the class during most of his lessons. I learnt a great deal.

Saint Etienne – Avenue (1992)
‘Oh how many years is it now, Maurice?’

So perfect I can’t bear to write about it.

Prefab Sprout – Let There Be Music (1993)
‘Hey Jules and Jim/I wrote the hymn to Ecstasy’

From Paddy’s lost 1993 album ‘Let’s Change the World with Music’, which he wrote, performed and produced at his  Andromeda Heights studio in County Durham. Intended to be the follow up to ‘Jordan: The Comeback’, but not released until 2009. Utterly beautiful.

Electronic – Getting away With It (Extended Mix)  (1989)
‘I’ve been walking in the rain just to get wet on purpose’

I nearly went for Greg Wilson’s 11-minute edit, but managed to curb myself.

Lake Heartbeat – Mystery (2009)
‘You said love would last…’

Swedish band recommended by my old Piccadilly Records comrade Andy McQueen, the king of wistful melodic pop. Dan Lissvik (Studio/The Crepes) on guitar.

Ducktails – International Dateline (2012)

Lovely instrumental from the ‘Flower Lane’ album.

Cashier No.9 – Oh Pity (2011)
‘Burnt out at the fine old age of seventeen’

Underrated sunshine pop on Bella Union. These lot now make music under the moniker exmagician.

Whyte Horses – The Snowfalls (2014)
‘Just keep on running for the morning’

So contagious. Gets wedged in your head to the point of irritation. Coming soon to an advert near you. They’re from Manchester dontcha know.

Primal Scream – Higher Than The Sun (1991)
A higher state of grace’

Recommended to me in about 1993 by an older boy I thought was the coolest of the cool. (He was a towering bellend in actuality.) Saw the Scream for the first time at Glastonbury in 2005. They whizzed me round the cosmos and back, but to be fair I had just ingested two very large hash truffles. I became convinced that ‘Swastika Eyes’ was about Paul O’Grady.

One Dove – Breakdown (Cellophane Boat Mix) (1993)
‘And the small hours are hard to bear’

I don’t think this mix (by Weatherall, of course) reached me at the time. Got into it via the Boy’s Own retrospective from 2013. Gorgeous.

Spiritualized – Run (1992)
‘They call me the breeze / I keep rollin’ down the road’

I saw Spritualized at the free Heineken Festival on Avenham Park, Preston in 1993. I’d arranged to go with my best mate but at the last minute she opted to go to a house party, drink Thunderbird and attempt to divest herself of her virginity instead.  Initially I was a bit scared to be on my own in the moshpit, but the gig was really something: intense and unforgettable.  I think I had to endure the Sultans of Ping FC before they came on. In later years I found Spiritualized rather ponderous and grandiose.

The Orb – Blue Room (1992)

Ah…The Orb. I had a real soft spot for them up to about 1994. I still listen to a fair amount of dub techno, mainly Deepchord and Rhythm & Sound, but these producers owe a debt to Paterson, Cauty et al. Famously samples Mad Professor’s ‘Fast Forward Into Dub’. The Orb caused controversy by appearing on Top of the Pops to promote the Blue Room. Instead of performing, Alex Paterson and Kris Weston played chess.

Primal Scream – Uptown (Andrew Weatherall Mix) (2008)
‘Back in the office, cage, a factory line’

I loved the straight version of ‘Uptown’ when it came out, especially Mani’s bassline. I first heard the Weatherall mix in DJ and producer Kelvin Andrews’ car on the way to an after party in the early hours. When the strings hit, I was so overwhelmed I vomited explosively into Kelvin’s glove compartment. He was a true gent about it, but this track will forever be tainted with the memory. 

Mark Seven – Sermon (Serotonin Edit) (2007)

So perfect an Ecstasy record it’s almost manipulative! ‘Sermon’ is a Mark Seven edit of Sheila Stewart’s ‘It’s You’ from 1988, which came out on the aforementioned Kelvin Andrews’ Creative Use label.

In Conversation: Jon Savage & Abigail Ward talk ‘Second Wave Psychedelia’

Perfect_Motion_flyer_front_1024x1024

The Birds Nest Cafe – Shrewsbury Market Hall
Sunday 19th June, 2016

6pm-10.30pm
Tickets: £8 in advance
Buy here or from The Bird’s Nest Cafe

Jon Savage (writer, social commentator, broadcaster & author of England’s Dreaming/Teenage/1966) in conversation with Abigail Ward (Manchester Music District Archive).



Preceded with a rare showing of the iconic ‘Weekender’ short by Flowered Up at 6.30pm.

The topic will be late 80s early 90s ‘Madchester’ and the Baggy musical scene that defined it . Also under discussion will be the critically acclaimed album Jon produced for CTR last year –  Perfect Motion: A Secret History of Second Wave Psychedelia 1988-93 – and its distinctive take on the era.

The Stone Roses, their influence, legacy and reformation will also be on the musical agenda. A must for fans of the music and culture of that era!

Followed by music with DJs Jon Savage/Abigail Ward & CTR Guests.

Listen to ‘Perfect Motion’ here.

LATE TRAINS RETURN FROM SHREWSBURY to MANCHESTER: 21.30 – Arrive Manchester 23.40.

Tickets strictly limited – £8 Advance. Please bring a print-out of your order confirmation for entry.

OUT! – An introduction to researching archives

Albert Memorial, 20 Feb 1988 GB127.M775
Image: Crowds of protesters at the Anti-Section 28 March, Manchester, 1988. Courtesy of Manchester Archives+.

Manchester Pride presents:
OUT! – An introduction to researching archives
Saturday 11th June 2016

Times:
Session 1: 10am-1pm
Session 2: 2pm-5pm
(The same session will run twice.)

Venue:
The Chief Librarian’s Office, Central Library, Manchester

FREE – book a place

Join Manchester Pride in the historic Chief Librarian’s room at Central Library for a fascinating training session on uncovering LGBT histories in Greater Manchester. Learn about viewing, handling and digitising rarely seen material held by a range of archives. Find out how you can contribute to the digital exhibition space at Archives+. This is a free, friendly event. All welcome!

OUT! is a project celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender histories across Greater Manchester using digital technologies. It is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and delivered by Manchester Pride.

This 3-hour training session, led by David Govier (Archives+) and Abigail Ward (Manchester District Music Archive), is aimed at equipping LGBT history enthusiasts with the skills required to interrogate archives and open up access to our city’s LGBT heritage, which, due to legislation and social stigma, has often remained hidden.

The session will be held in the beautiful, wood-panelled Chief Librarian’s Office, which also offers a top-floor vista of the bustling Oxford Road corridor.

Central Library is wheelchair accessible. If you are interested in attending this event and would like to discuss your access requirements, please contact: abigail@manchesterpride.com

Booking is via Eventbrite. Please note: places are limited, so we’d be grateful if you could let us know if you can’t attend.

We are proud to be part of Manchester Histories Festival 2016.

Manchester Is Here

Photo: Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

IRA bomb damage, 1996. Photo courtesy of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

Wednesday June 15th, 2016
Manchester Metropolitan University Business School
10am-4pm

FREE – book a place

Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the ‘Manchester bomb’, widely recognised as the catalyst for Greater Manchester’s twenty-first-century regeneration, MMU is holding an academic symposium and public-engagement launch on June 15th to celebrate Manchester’s phenomenal redevelopment over the past twenty years.

Who is Greater Manchester?

This panel will look at Manchester identities as they relate to music, football and LGBT communities. To what extent do the Premier League, the Factory legacy and the Gay Village promote and complement the multitude of Manchester’s histories of success, and how can we make the most of the manifold futures signposted by the city’s rich history and diverse heritage?

Speakers:

  • Dominique Tessier (Café Historique)
  • Abigail Ward (Manchester District Music Archive)
  • Anthony May (Public Services, Manchester Met)
  • Katie Milestone (Sociology, Manchester Met)
  • Jon Binnie (Human Geography, Manchester Met)

Booking & more info via Eventbrite

Activist / Archivist

Roots Manuva at the Roadhouse, 2001 by Al Baker

Roots Manuva at the Roadhouse, 2001 by Al Baker

Saturday June 4th, 2016
People’s History Museum

Activist / Archivist
A Show & Tell Event

FREE EVENT

12-2pm: Scanning session.
2-3pm: Gig by A Quiet Loner – the museum’s songwriter in residence.
3-5pm: ‘Show & Tell

Speakers:

Jayne Compton (Club Brenda/Switchflicker)
Heather Roberts (Royal Northern College of Music)
Bob Dickinson (City Fun fanzine/BBC/Vocal Harum)
Claud Cunningham (Black Angel)
Susan O’Shea (Ladyfest/MMU)
Andy Martin (Star and Garter)

Booking advised but not essential via Eventbrite.

Passionate about Manchester music? Interested in hidden histories? Join Manchester District Music Archive  for a one-off event exploring fascinating stories from Manchester music’s movers and shakers, told through a series of rarely seen artefacts and materials. Bring along prized items from your own collection and learn how to archive your music heritage online.

Archives are closely linked with how we understand history and can be a site for resistance and celebration in challenging how history is defined.  Activist / Archivist will explore some of Manchester’s less visible musical histories whilst opening up access to unseen material, including objects from the People’s History Museum’s own archive. It will reveal how music and politics are inextricably linked in our city’s history.

This event will bring together a diverse group of speakers who have helped to shape the landscape of Manchester music. Each guest will  that is important to them (such as a photo, flyer, record, instrument or autograph) and tell its story. These items will then be scanned or photographed and uploaded to MDMarchive’s online archive.

We are also inviting members of the public to bring along something that is precious to them, which can be scanned and added to the online archive. There will be a room set up for scanning artefacts and uploading them to the archive with volunteers on hand to assist you.

Do I have to bring an artefact to attend?
There is no requirement to bring artefacts to this event, but if you have anything interesting we’d love to see it!

What artefacts can I bring?
The only limitation is that it must relate to music in Greater Manchester, involving either bands/artists that are from Greater Manchester, or music events that took place in Greater Manchester. We encourage everyone to bring anything that they think is interesting, ranging from ticket stubs, posters, fanzines and photographs to membership cards, artwork or something more obscure! The purpose of the archive is that MDMarchive’s users decide what is important in Manchester music history.

This event is being organised on behalf of MDMarchive by Joe Watson and Rory Cook as part of the University of Manchester’s Researchers In Residence programme.

Proud to be part of Manchester Histories Festival 2016.

A Queer Revue! – Band on the Wall, June 2016

Photo: Kath McDermott/Manchester District Music Archive

Photo: Kath McDermott/Manchester District Music Archive

On Friday June 3rd, at the wonderful A QUEER REVUE! at Band on the Wall, I’m going to be doing a FREE talk on LGBT music and club culture in Manchester, marking the launch of Manchester Histories Festival 2016.

My talk will explore how queer music culture in Manchester helped to redefine attitudes to sexuality across the city and beyond, featuring rarely seen images and footage courtesy of Manchester District Music Archive.

I will be speaking in The Picture House next door to Band on the Wall at 8.30pm, and after that I will be raving in the main venue to DJ Greg Thorpe and some of my favourite Manchester bands: LIINES / Husk / ILL / Ménage à Trois

Tempted?

Booking for my talk is via Eventbrite:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/queer-noise-the-hidden-histo…

Booking for A Queer Revue! is here:
http://bandonthewall.org/events/5051/

 

Where’s Bowie?

Flyer (reverse) for Where's Bowie?, 2011. Artwork: R. Marsh

Flyer (reverse) for Where’s Bowie?, 2011. Artwork: R. Marsh

[From the vaults: a mix from 2011]

Back in 2011 I organised a night called Where’s Bowie?. It had two aims: first, to make a noise so loud and glamorous it dragged the much-missed Duke out of retirement (we succeeded!), and second to raise money for MIND – a charity that creates awareness around mental health issues.

We held the event at Night & Day Café, Manchester, on 29th November. We showed a great film – Fritz Von Runte‘s ‘Bowie 2001‘ – a piece that splices Bowie’s remixed back catalogue into the original Kubrick movie. Three bands played: Hooker (now LIINES), Black Antlers and Monte Carlo.

I DJed along with Clair & Rebecca (Bad Timing) and Jane Hector-Jones.

I put together these ‘Bowie-esque’ mixes shortly afterwards as a souvenir for all the pink monkey birds that strutted their stuff on that special night.

The lovely artwork was by Randall Marsh.

01. Sebastian Tellier – Fantino
02. T. Rex – Cosmic Dancer
03. Blur – Strange News from Another Star
04. Brian Eno – Dead Finks Don’t Talk
05. Jobriath – World Without End
06. Luther Vandross – Funky Music (Is a Part of Me)
07. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
08. The Emperor Machine – Repetition
09. Tobor Experiment Disco Experience – Station To Station
10. David Bowie – When The Boys Come Marching Home
11. Brian Eno and John Cale – Spinning Away
12. Carla Bruni – Absolute Beginners
13. Brian Eno – I’ll Come Running
14. Warpaint – Ashes to Ashes
15. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust (Studio Instrumental)
16. Velvet Underground – Rock & Roll

Electric 50: A fundraiser for Manchester District Music Archive

dylan stan final

Artwork by Stan Chow

Tuesday May 17th, 2016
Manchester Academy 3
7.30pm £10

JUDAS! Manchester District Music Archive hosts fundraising concert celebrating Bob Dylan’s historic electric performance

Judas!’ is a shout that has been echoed through music history for half a decade, after a heckler loudly accused Bob Dylan of heresy by ‘going electric’ in 1966. That famous moment at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall is being celebrated 50 years later by a collective of musicians, playing Dylan’s same set list in full, little over a mile away from where the incident took place.

Manchester District Music  Archive (MDMarchive) is celebrating the anniversary with a fundraising concert, Electric 50, taking place on Tuesday 17th May 2016 at the Academy 3 (Hop and Grape) in Manchester University Students’ Union, Oxford Road. Contributors, including Jez Kerr of A Certain Ratio, Manchester guitar legend George Borowski and BBC 6 Music favouriteThick Richard, will interpret Dylan’s original performance and leave it up to the audience whether to recreate the famous heckle.

Dr CP Lee, co-founder of MDMArchive and author of ‘Like the Night’ which chronicle’s Dylan’s controversial electric tour, says:

 “Dylan’s emergence for the second half of his Manchester concert and ‘plugging in’ is hailed as one of the twenty most important moments in rock history, noted as the electrifying night the young American poet clashed head on with the traditionalist die-hards of the British folk scene. 50 years on, Manchester celebrates one of the most remarkable moments to have happened on one of its stages.”

Electric 50 audiences will also get the chance to walk away with a piece of remarkable memorabilia, with six raffle prizes of Mark Makin, presentation-sized original photographs from the 1966 Free Trade Hall concert itself. Each will be signed by Mark who famously took the only known photos of this historic gig when he was a 15-year-old schoolboy.

Broadcaster Andy Kershaw is to compere the show. Andy tracked down and unmasked the heckler who shouted “Judas!” and 32 years after the event revealed him in ‘Ghosts of Electricity’, the award-winning BBC Radio 1documentary.

Electric 50 will begin with an introduction from poet Tony ‘Longfella’ Walsh and then the following artists will perform the two halves of the concert:

Andrew ‘Blind Boy’ Butler, Kevin Hewick, The Speed of Sound, The Freshies, John O’Connell, Poppycock, Edwina Hayes, Dub Vampire, Thick Richard and Friends, George Borowski/EPI, Jez Kerr, The Creature Comfort, Vocal Harum, Gerry and The Holograms, Ensemble

Tickets for the anniversary performances can be obtained direct from the Manchester Academy website at : https://www.manchesteracademy.net

MDMArchive has recently been awarded charitable status and the Electric 50 show, which has been organised by MDMarchive co-founders Dr CP Lee and Dave Rofe and will raise funds for the Archive’s future work. This includes a forthcoming project looking at the history of Music, Politics and Protest in Manchester.

Original artwork for the concert has been designed by celebrated Manchester artist Stanley Chow, who designed the branding for Chinese New Year in Manchester, 2016.

I miss the hungry years – memories of Cornerhouse

cornerhousetriptych

01. Europa Cinemas Trailer
02. George Martin – And I Love her
03. Hi-Voltage Orchestra – Midnight Blue
04. Dave Grusin – Three Days of the Condor
05. The Jackson 5 – Can I See You In The Morning?
06. Brian Bennett – Solstice
07. Charles Earland – I Will Never Tell
08. Mo Foster – Stateside II
09. Bob James – Nightcrawler
10. Fat Gaines Band present Zorina – For Your Love (Diablo Edit)
11. Lonnie Liston Smith – A Chance For Peace
12. Leo’s Sunship – Back For More
13. Lambchop – Give Me Your Love
14. Pete Dunaway – Supermarket
15. Soul Sensation Orchestra – Faded Lady (Instrumental)
16. Robert Upchurch – The Devil Made Me Do it
17. Bob Welch – Don’t Let Me Fall
18. Marvin Gaye – I Want You (Vocal & Rhythm Version)
19. Freddie Hubbard feat Jeanie Tracy – You’re Gonna Lose Me
20. Johnnie Taylor – What About My Love?
21. Barry White – Sheet Music (US Promo Instrumental)


I never really wanted to be a DJ. I have always collected records and owned a turntable, but for much of my younger life I focused on writing my own songs rather than playing other people’s. That changed in 2007 when my friend Kate – then bar manager at Cornerhouse – asked me to do a mix of rare film scores for her to play at work. A short time later, she invited me to DJ on a Friday night, and so began a six-year tenure as a handmaiden of the decks.

On my first night, trembling with anxiety, I pitted my wits against a crackly Numark mixer and Cornerhouse’s famously sensitive limiter, a device that would cut the sound dead throughout the whole venue if it didn’t care for your tunes. I triggered it three times. Kate explained I had to balance on a stool and bash it with a tray to achieve a reset.

I called my night Big Strings Attached and indulged my love of all things stringed, from symphonic soul to cinematic pop, and of course, plenty of soundtracks.

Initially I played at the top of the stairs in the café bar. I would lose myself watching the weather out of the window while first dates and last orders rippled pleasantly around me. I stood up to DJ behind a makeshift wooden booth on wheels. It would be rolled in through double doors at the start of the night, reminding me for some reason of a coffin sliding into the furnace.

When the managers eventually agreed to replace the £50 Numark with a Pioneer DJM 750 mixer, the decks would no longer fit in the coffin, so I ended up sitting at an ordinary table. Pros: I could take the weight of my feet, always sore from a full Friday working the counter at Piccadilly Records. Cons: I became too accessible to punters who needed to chat.

From that point on, people were able to draw up a chair and talk to me. And of course, there was no escape. Many sordid sob stories and unsolicited confessions were shared, leading inevitably to dead air and flunked mixes on my part.

There was Elsie, still angular of cheekbone at 80, whose bright eyes would fill with tears when recounting her days treading the boards at the Royal Exchange; there was Terry, who claimed I was the only person he could talk to about his desire to have gender reassignment surgery; there was Dr Octopus, a GP with broken facial capillaries, whose tentacles, come 10pm, would brush across the buttocks of his always much younger female companions. There was Robin, who sometimes noticed blood in his stools.*

I hate talking to people when I am playing records. It’s a social no man’s land. You can’t get meaningfully involved in either the conversation or the music. Even when close friends came in to help me through a shift, I found it awkward. My heart would sink a little.

I tried for a time simply to exist within my headphones, strings blaring. But people would still come and talk to me. It was more disturbing to confront their wordless gaping mouths than to listen to their problems.

A sweet looking boy called John was a regular feature for a while. He would slope in early doors, always nicely turned out. Intermittently he was able to talk in fully formed sentences about college or music. Much of the time he spoke in strange fragments, little blurted scraps, tics. He wasn’t drunk. I never saw him with a drink. I suspect at some point he’d been flung through the doors of perception whilst on acid or ket and never quite made it back. Sometimes he did the crossword next to me, shouting out random words. One night I picked up the newspaper after he left and discovered he’d filled in each blank word with my name.

Very occasionally, perhaps once a year, someone would want to talk about the music I was playing. This was a genuine delight. I have no issue with people who want to talk about music. Provided their taste is immaculate, like mine.

In later years I was moved downstairs to play in the window by the door. The ground floor had a different atmosphere, a transient crowd, no food. I campaigned weekly to get candles on the tables and lights dimmed.

By now I’d toughened up a bit. I had strategies to deal with ‘sitters’. Downstairs, it was less heartbreak, more hassle. I still have nightmares about one night when the Rocky Horror Show was on at the Palace. The bar was heaving with stroppy hets in fishnets thrusting their pansticked faces into mine because I wouldn’t play ‘The Timewarp’.

Another time, over Christmas, a paralytic Santa on Oxford Road pressed his bare arse up to the window millimeters away from my face. I can still see his sad sack dangling.

Setting up the decks was less convenient. I had to carry my Technics, mixer, CDJ, and monitor down several flights of stone stairs that ran from the top to the bottom of the building. This area of Cornerhouse had a very particular smell: bleach, hops, sweat and something all of its own. All buildings have their smells, like people.

During the final year, appalled to discover that Cornerhouse was soon to be demolished, I began to experience an odd feeling on those stairs, almost as if I were being watched fondly by a future version of myself as I hoofed gear, outstretched foot holding open the fire door, cables spilling out of pockets. A spasm of intense nostalgia for the building not yet lost.

The bar staff at Cornerhouse were, almost without exception, kind, creative, funny. Working the pumps were writers, music producers, filmmakers, trainee psychologists, ceramicists, cartoonists, fashion designers. They were never stingy with the anaesthetic and if I was a good girl I could pick a leftover brownie at the end of the night. I did, for a short period suffer a rather painful crush on one particular bartender, who basked in my discomfort like a tabby on a windowsill.

Rory – a security guard, became one of my main allies. He would help me with my gear when my back was fucked. He had a sixth sense for when I was being mithered and would hover around diplomatically. He pulled me out of myself when I was red wine-glum (often), and nearly always had a Blue Riband going spare for a counter jockey who’d skipped tea. Rory’s most requested tune was Shirley Bassey’s version of ‘The Hungry Years’, which was absolutely fine by me.

There were celebrity sightings, both real and imagined: Eric Cantona, Damon Albarn and Willem Dafoe all came in during Manchester International Festival. One of these luminaries was, according to staff, foul tempered and condescending. Can you guess which one?

Sometimes, on the lonelier nights, my grip on reality dangerously loosened by Malbec, I would imagine being visited by the stars whose records I was spinning. Donald Fagen popped in regularly to ‘work a little skirt’. Nina Simone stopped by, fuming, because front of house had asked me to turn down ‘Baltimore’. The young Michael Jackson would crawl under my table, eyes brimming, during ‘Who’s Loving You?’.

In 2013 my time at Cornerhouse ended in the style of a long term lesbian love affair. Both parties claimed in public it was a mutual decision. And we’re still friends.

People who are concerned about the fate of the Cornerhouse building and ‘Little Ireland’ may be interested in attending the first Manchester Shield meeting at 6.30pm on Thursday 14th April at the Friend’s Meeting House.

*The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

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