Mad Fer It: Take a Musical Tour of Manchester
With the summer of 2012 witnessing the celebrated return of Manchester’s Stone Roses, the spotlight has been turned on the city once again in celebration of its impressive musical heritage. Though groups like Herman’s Hermits, The Hollies and even The Bee Gees all have ties to the city, it would be bands like The Smiths, Happy Mondays, New Order, The Charlatans and of course the Stone Roses that put Manchester on the map. The late 1980s and early 1990s was inarguably the golden age of Manchester music, with its unique fusion of dance music and guitar pop. Later, in the wake of this ‘Madchester’ scene, came the era defining sounds of bands such as The Verve, Doves and Oasis.
You’ll find no shortage of tour companies capitalising on Manchester’s musical history. Pub walks, bus tours and more are available boasting anecdotes from experts on the lives of Ian Curtis or the Gallagher brothers. However, if you want to retrace the morose steps of Morrissey or sift through Mr. Sifter’s record collection on your own, here are 5 stops not to be missed on any musical pilgrimage to Manchester:
Factory Records was the legendary independent record label that started it all. Acts like Joy Division, New Order, The Happy Mondays, The Durutti Column and A Certain Ratio made Factory Records founder Tony Wilson a legendary figure in the Manchester music scene. Though the label no longer exists, the former offices of Factory Records on Princess Street have been turned into an rock’n’roll venue called FAC251, which now hosts club nights featuring all the tunes that made Factory Records and Manchester famous.
Located at 177 Fog Lane, Sifters Records has been one of Manchester’s leading independent record shops since 1977, selling an eclectic mix of second hand vinyl, CDs and DVDs. It was a favourite for Noel Gallagher who immortalised the shop in Oasis’s second single Shakermaker: “Mr Sifter sold me songs when I was just sixteen…”
Musical Walk of Fame
Take a walk through the history of Manchester’s music by meandering down Oldham Street in the city’s hip Northern Quarter. The street features triangular plaques for each legendary music group that once called Manchester home. This musical walk of fame celebrates bands such as The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, 808 State, and James.
Salford Lad’s Club
The Salford Lad’s Club is a boys and girls recreational club located in the Ordsall area of Salford in Manchester. The Hollies also used to use the club for band practice before they became famous, as both Allan Clarke and Graham Nash were former members. However, its 100+ year history, the Salford Lad’s Club is probably most famous for featuring in the inner gatefold image of The Smith’s 1986 album The Queen is Dead. Visit the club on St. Ignatius Walk on to recreate the photo for yourself.
Though the actual Hacienda exits only in memory, a trip to the block of aptly named Hacienda flats is worthwhile for any music lover who wants to pay homage to the site of the UK’s most famous superclub. Formerly a warehouse, the Hacienda opened its doors as a nightclub in 1982, and by the early 1990s it was named the most famous club in the world by Newsweek. The venue, supported by New Order and Factory Records, famously played host for Madonna’s debut UK performance in 1984. However, it was the introduction of house music in 1986 that truly solidified the Hacienda’s musical reputation. Michael Winterbottom’s 2002 film 24 Hour Party People tells the story of the Hacienda and is certainly worth a watch for any fan of the Manchester music scene.
Looking for a hotel in Manchester? Consider a stay at the Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport hotel for a great value accommodation option.