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Lowry's Defining Me MCR Music Exhibition Is Ace

Jonathan Smith likes this alternative look of city sounds

Written by . Published on October 9th 2013.


Lowry's Defining Me MCR Music Exhibition Is Ace
 

MANCHESTER’S musical heritage is a double edged sword.

It’s seemingly an important component in its rebuilding as a cosmopolitan paradise but it’s also a danger to the future, the temptation remaining to eternally live off its former glories of flower wielding, acid house and Gallagher haircuts.

The exhibition draws centrally on personal stories which are supplemented by photos, ticket stubs, posters, letters and record sleeves to give life to each tale. 

The prime example of the perils of the past would be North West neighbours Liverpool who have flogged the Beatles to within in an inch of their mop top boncess, both cheapening the city’s image as well tarnishing the band’s actual musical contribution to little more than a money spinning tourist attraction.

While Manchester has yet to rebrand itself as home of the Haçienda or rename the airport after Steven Patrick Morrissey there’s a risk that the past could become the focal point of the city, especially when you consider the sheer volume of great musicians, bands and movements that have arisen from it.

Defining me: The Lowry

Defining me: The Lowry

Rather than rehashing another exhibition on that legendry Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall or tell us again about the tragic world of Ian Curtis the Lowry has circumvented convention and the obvious by looking at Manchester’s musical history through the eyes of its citizens.

The focus isn’t on the bands and their specific stories but personal journeys into how Manchester’s music has affected lives, whether it be inspiring them to join a band or merely their delight at going to see some of the famous acts that have passed through the city.

While the usual suspects of Manchester’s musical past appear they are far from the focal point and merely another part of the exhibition’s larger focus on all forms of music, be it skiffle bands of the sixties, classical compositions from the Halle Orchestra or punk raves at Wigan Casino. The exhibition doesn’t follow a chronological order but still spreads itself wide enough to appeal to all music genres as well as to cover each decade of the last 60 years.

Defining Me

Defining Me

Displayed in one of the Lowry’s light, airy second floor gallery overlooking Salford Quays, the exhibition draws centrally on personal stories which are supplemented by photos, ticket stubs, posters, letters and record sleeves to give life to each tale. Some of the memorabilia is loaned personal artefacts that contain cherished memories while other items are widely recognised pieces, notably pictures from local photographer Kevin Cummins.

There are some great pieces on show, notably some amateur photographs of Bob Dylan’s infamous ‘Judas’ concert at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall , the only images in existence of the show, but the real brilliance in Defining Me: Musical Adventures in Manchester lies in the selection of wonderfully intimate tales of the past, providing real perspective on the profound effect of music on people’s lives.

The simple pleasures of Bill Mather receiving Smiths’ posters in an envelope hand written by Morrissey, Graham Massey being inspired by Hawkwind to form 808 State, or Pauline Clegg watching her dad’s band, Bill Edge and The Boys, eat fish and chips on stage, it’s a lovely little collection of memories and a chance to glimpse into people’s musical heritage in Manchester rather than the musicians stories that we already know.

Defining Me: Musical Adventures in Manchester is free and runs from Sat 28 September - Sun 23 February in the Lowry Galleries, open from 10am-5pm most days. It’s curated and present by Manchester District Music Archive.

 

The LowryThe Lowry

Exhibit at Defining Me

Exhibit at Defining Me

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