The Hacienda was a night club founded by Tony Wilson and other key personalities on the Manchester music scene. But it was much more than a night club, it was a cultural phenomenon that pioneered the recent transformation of Manchester. That's the main message of the exhibition.
If the aim was to capture the feeling of edgy irreverent excitement that was the Hacienda, the exhibition succeeds very well indeed. Former Hacienda-goers will find much that is familiar and that will bring back happy memories.
Here I have a feeling of regret, as I was not taking photos professionally in the heyday of the Hacienda, and only went there once, in 1986. Recently I have been catching up, but in a sense, it's too late. If I had been taking photos at the time, I'm sure there would be a few images of mine on display in this exhibition. Unfortunately I can't go back in time and change things.
Here are a few of my highlights of the exhibition:
The large size grainy black and white photo of a much younger Tony Wilson
Another photo of Peter Saville, Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus
Outrageous images from New York gay clubs, said to have been the inspiration for the Hacienda
Footage of Madonna's famous appearance at the Hacienda, taken from the edition of the Tube where Jools Holland visited the club
Kevin Cummins' photos of Madonna's appearance, reproduced in large format as a strip of black and white film
The numerous t-shirts and posters with endlessly inventive designs
Rare footage of New Order, the Fall and other Manchester bands
Photos of Manchester in the 70s, including the original yacht warehouse building on Whitworth St, that became the Hacienda
A set of three bollards used as dividers, which I assume are genuine items from the Hacienda
The amazing photographs of Ian Tilton and Peter Walsh
Spirit of the Hacienda
The launch event captured the spirit of the Hacienda. The Urbis building became a 'son of Hacienda' for one night. The echoey hall with its high ceiling was quite similar to the original. I felt that of all the places in Manchester, maybe Urbis is the true successor to what the Hacienda set in motion, at least for this evening.
At the event I met Lyndsay Read and Mick Middles who jointly produced the book 'Torn Apart' about the life of Ian Curtis. I spoke to Andy Spinoza, leading PR personality of Manchester and one time Hacienda correspondent for City Life, the magazine he founded. I also chatted with rock singer and journalist John Robb.
Other notable personalities who were there on the night included Peter Hook, alias 'Hookie' who did a few turns as DJ, Peter Saville, celebrated designer and Hacienda co-founder, Dave Haslam, ex-Hacienda DJ and author, Shaun Ryder lead singer of the Happy Mondays, DJ and filmmaker Elliott Eastwick, and others. Conspicuous by his absence was the principle founder of the Hacienda, Tony Wilson, who is seriously ill. A pair of trainers in an autographed box was auctioned for Christie's hospital. It sold for £1000.
All in all it was a great night, though I was initially refused entry by one of the bouncers. This was because I hadn't received my invitation possibly due to difficulties with the post. I spoke to another doorman and managed to talk my way in.
All in all the Hacienda 25 exhibition is a must-see for anyone who went there, or for people who know nothing about it and would like to get a feel for the true spirit of the Hacienda.
Entry is free and the show runs from 19 July 2007 to 17 February 2008
More info on the Urbis website.
In memory of Tony Wilson, co-founder of the Hacienda, I would like to encourage visitors to make a donation to the Christie hospital in south Manchester.