A joyous crowd assembles to witness and fully immerse themselves in the melodic reworking of the tracks that became synonymous with Manchester’s pioneering club, The Hacienda.
What began as a promising evening of sunshine and beats, became a rain-soaked typical Manchester Summer evening in Castlefield, but alas downpours of near biblical proportions failed to abate the mass Rave that was in full swing on Saturday night for the sold out “Hacienda Classical.”
Walking under the arches at The Castlefield Bowl I am greeted with a broad mass of bodies, arms outstretched skyward, lapping up the DJ set delivered with finesse by Peter Hook (Hooky to you and me).
Skillfully, the co-founder of The Hacienda weaves his way through an eclectic dance based set dishing up some classics and the odd “guilty pleasure.”
The minimalist production and stage add to the reminiscence of the warehouse party’s inspired by Fac51. In amongst the revellers, there are certainly fashion hints and nods to the scene, with a Smattering of smiley T-shirts and Factory emblazoned merchandise. But certainly nowhere near the adage fest of Joe Bloggs jeans and whistles that I am (wrongly) expecting.
Manchester based AMC choir, and The Manchester Camerata Orchestra assembles and so begins the tidal wave of hedonistic tracks that gave so many a narrative for their formative years.
Tim Crooks conducts the Orchestra and 70 member Gospel choir with flair and zest.
The skilled musicians deliver flawless, melodically rich reworks of iconic songs and tracks.
Full of Soul and funk, which surprisingly is in harmony with such a Beautiful, dynamic arrangement.
Graeme Park and Mike Pickering supply the throbbing accompaniment, and It genuinely is a joy to witness this collaboration in its entirety.
Mc Tunes intermittently appears on stage, vibing with the crowd, his stage presence visible from the further reaches of Castlefield, as his jewelry!
Of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without Manchester’s famous former “chemist,” and chief maraca shaker, Bez, who does little to downplay his animated style of performance.
As the heavens open to “Promised Land” with the almost poetic timing, we are defiant and continuing the groove.
The whole set list is abundant with epochal anthems of the era, highlights being Pacific State, Voodoo Ray, Move ya body, amongst many others. The venue erupted and the fever of Manchester’s infamous Second Summer of Love felt truly infectious as the classic house sounds wash over the flock who are now in full voice.
With the composition of this set list tonight, we have been swept right up to the encore and anticipating the final anthemic song; “You got the love.” Powerful and energetic vocals of course provided by Rowetta, flanked by Hooky and Bez.
I will admit tonight I arrived with some degree of skepticism, anticipating a cliched rolling out of another “Madchester” esque show. A doubt born of frustration that we are lacking a Tony Wilson figure, eager to shepherd the next era of emerging musical talent. The frustration was misdirected in this case as there would appear to still be a desire for a nostalgic nod to the pivotal era of a Northern led musical revolution.
I can say with confidence that the “Hacienda Classical” is an authentic, creative and skillful re imagining of what was and still is a collection of songs that forged a community and movement, whom tonight appreciate the opportunity to reunite.