I am at the Manchester Art Gallery for the launch of the New Order ‘True Faith’ exhibition. As the room fills it’s getting quite nice, with free wine and bottles of lager being given out. A few people I know and respect are in attendance, but the warning signs are there that I have been lulled into a false sense of security, as a large contingent of middle class arty types gather. I would expect them to be there, but it still make me feel uneasy—I have these internal rumblings thinking, ‘what the fuck have these got to do with music or gigs?’ Yes it’s my own issue, the working class background that’s seeping out, but it doesn’t take away my unease.
We are then subjected to a speech from the Manchester Council leader, Richard Leese, who is waffling on about how New Order are the classical music of today, and how this reflects upon our city, and implies they are the greatest band to ever emerge. By the end of his speech the inner turmoil is too much, I have to leave, and sharply before I become a knobhead and shout some abuse at him. As I leave, at the entrance are two homeless guys who are gazing through the huge glass walls at all the free wine and beer being given away on this particularly hot day.
The bus ride home was a self-examination of why I felt so angry—of course this is the world we live in, corporations always take over, and Joy Division were a ground-breaking band, while Tony Wilson for a period of time was that musical revolution that the city needed. But the music didn’t start then, and then end with just the output from Factory Records.
I never knew Tony Wilson, although we did meet once, but I am sure if he was alive now he would be thinking it’s today and the future that counts. I remember how he was so supportive of a band called Sad Café, yet did not publicly talk about them again once he saw the world of ‘70s punk . Manchester should celebrate its wonderful past. However it should celebrate more than just the damn obvious. I do not see huge backing for the Hollies, 10cc, The Buzzcocks, Barclay James Harvest, The Chameleons, The Smiths, and many other great bands from this city.
The future isn’t supported and we are constantly looking back at a period of time. The City is turning into a version of the Beatles Liverpool. There again that was from a corporate world, which has fuck all to do with music. Please tell me what decent song or album has been produced by New Order or the Stone Roses in the last 15 years? I don’t know of any, not one. Looking back is good, it can be in fact wonderful—I spend so much time searching for music I missed out on—but for music to progress, to achieve, and to stimulate your being, you have to look at today, and what’s around you now. Perhaps I am wrong and we are forever trapped in a world of spin and X Factor, or the corporate world of government safe options. I hope not.
Manchester and many other cities face problems with the closure of music venues and pubs,yet every time I nip out of work at the studio for a unhealthy cig, I see kids walking past with guitars strapped to their backs, in fact more than ever. Perhaps the musical revolution has started I hope so.