There is a light that never goes out...
ost Britons, if pushed, would like to think that their popular culture is the most sophisticated and versatile in the world.
And Manchester’s residents are justly proud of the city’s heavyweight cultural contribution to that sum total. Yet they are also slightly mystified. What is it about this comparatively tiny city that has produced so many great artists and musicians? Could it be the city’s unique climate?That important industrial heritage?
Whatever the reason, the city’s reputation as a towering centre of musical excellence is, today, unchallenged. This would be a bold claim to back up were it not for the wealth of historical evidence close to hand. Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, Oasis, Elbow: all sons of Manchester (or just outside).
And as well as the music itself, it is now possible to visit the city and spend a considerable amount of time paying homage to these musical heroes. For many, The Smiths are the quintessential Manchester band, marrying witty wordplay worthy of Alan Bennett with luscious, literate music.
For fans of the band, a visit to the Salford Lad’s Club, where the band were photographed for 1986’s Queen is Dead record, is the only fitting way to pay tribute. And if you ask nicely they’ll show you around the rather endearing shrine that has sprung up to Morrissey, Marr and co inside the gym’s weights’ room.
Factory Records, the city’s most famous label, was equally important to Manchester’s musical history. In the 80s, the hedonistic Hacienda nightclub was the undisputed focal point.
Today the club has been turned into swanky flats, but its spirit loves on at FAC251: The Factory, a new club opened by New Order flounder and Factory lifer Peter Hook.