Friday 1st December, Manchester Academy
It was paint-splattered bucket hats, it was vintage Adidas track jackets, it was a Paul Weller coat, a pretty green t-shirt and a sea of three-stripe kicks. Cliché, you say? Nah, bloody brilliant.
As much as we scorn at the registered trademarks of Manchester culture, it’s so easy to get swept away in the magic of it all, the criteria of the 80s and 90s which made this city the hub of popular culture.
It’s become an institution of its own, that Liam Gallgher walk, Ian Brown attitude and Morrissey’s political lyricism. But if it culminates in a mass sing-song of the anthem which brings this city together, as it did last night, then God bless it.
The Verve Experience
The Verve Experience kicked things off, paying tribute to Richard Ashcroft and those classic tracks embedded in the history of northern music. ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ was crooned out with the reverence it always delivers, sparking a moment of contemplation in a night of joyous nostalgia. The band fulfilled their purpose; reminding the crowd of the forgotten gems of Verve discography.
The Smiths Ltd
Morrissey reigned as the highlight of the night. From the swinging of a noose (“Hang the DJ!”) to the bashful touch of a flower to the cheek, if you’d shut your eyes you were magicked back to the 80s. Vocals absolutely spot on, The Smiths Ltd sensationally and comically captured the essence of Morrissey and Marr, and the sombre fascination which consumes the tracks. Putting on a performance for every new adventure, from the withdrawn ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’ to the drama of ‘How Soon Is Now?’ they were spellbinding in their parallels.
Now, Liam Gallagher 2.0 was a spectacle if ever there was one. When that parka coat, tambourine and side-burn trademark swagger on stage, you know you’re in for a treat. Everything down to the wiping of the mouth in between verses was just so very Liam. They picked an eclectic set list, welcoming on a string quartet for ‘Whatever’ and bringing the house to its knees with a traditional take on the beautiful ‘Champagne Supernova’.
The Clone Roses
Looking slightly less like the real McCoy than the other front men who came before, Ian Brown made up for it with a vocal indistinguishable from the Roses singer. Baggy dreams were fulfilled, as the crowd got down and low to dance that swanky dance of the Mancunians. ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ seemed to transport the room back to the chemical plant of Spike Island; for a moment we were bathing in the sun of May 1990, and what a day it was.
After the year Manchester has faced, and after rising up stronger than ever, it seemed fitting that the first day of the final month was saturated with Mancunian pride in a space celebrating everything we love about this city. As ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ rang out and mates were held in arms, nostalgia rippled down spines and one thought sprung to mind…
And on the sixth day, Manchester created music.