Festival: Whitworth Weekending, Whitworth Park, Friday 30 August-Sunday 1 September
The Whitworth Gallery on Oxford Road, founded in 1889 and now in possession of over 55,000 objects (enough for every citizen of Macclesfield to have one object… and a bit of another one), is set to close its doors until the summer of 2014 for a jazzy new refurbishment and extension. This final glorious and celebratory three-day closing weekend of art, music and performance in Whitworth Park is the gallery's way of thanking everyone that has come to make the Whitworth what it is - a significant wedge in the exquisitely juicy and multi-faceted pie that is Manchester’s cultural landscape.
Friday night will host performances from the best of the Whitworth’s After Hours late-night programme while bold acid-house brass-band assimilation Acid Brass will headline the evening. Saturday will see spoken word and film in The Living Room, a musical line-up from Band on the Wall, participatory artwork and a fire and light display to close out the night in an explosive fashion, using the gallery as a canvas. On Sunday the Whitworth invites visitors to bring food for a communal Sunday lunch and as dusk falls Manchester artists Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson will unveil elegiac new work Six White Horses.
FREE. Friday 4pm-11pm. Saturday 10am-11pm. Sunday the gallery will open at midday and stay open till midnight, after which it will close until summer 2014. More info here.
Film: Rock and Roll’s Greatest Failure: Otway the Movie plus Q&A with John Otway, Cornerhouse, Friday 30 August, 6.15pm
Some people make it in the music industry. Most don’t. Some even go on to change the course of musical history - Chuck Berry, Elvis, Bob Dylan, Hendrix, The Sex Pistols, The Smiths. Still, most don’t.
John Otway is a don’t. Yet, somehow he still maintains a certain underdog cult status amongst his followers. During the heady days of the 70s British punk revolution, John released a song, crushed his testicles in front of 5.5 million viewers and subsequently received a ridiculously lucrative five album deal from Polydor Records. It didn't quite work out.
His next hit was not for another 25 years. This is his career. Or lack of it.
Buy tickets for the film screening plus a Q&A with John Otway here.
Tour: The Only Dark Tour In MCR: The Haunted Underworld, Meet at St Ann's Square War Memorial, Saturday 31 August, 1.30pm
Now and then our editor, Jonathan Schofield, not entirely unlike Gollum from LOTR, likes to lead unsuspecting folk down into the murky depths of underground Manchester where he then tries to eat them. Half of this is a lie – I'm afraid it's up to you to work out which half.
Leading you through a dark and mysterious undercroft of the city centre, old stories come alive. There are tales of dead artists, sinister magicians, tragic lovers and demons. You will find the stories moving, tragic but incorporating a few laughs as well.
The tour is conducted in the dark with just the faintest of light to encourage 'activity' of a spooky kind and to make it easier for Jonathan to bite you.
£8 (not recommended for children under ten). You can book tickets for the Haunted Underworld tours here.
Music: Leonard Cohen, Phones4u Arena, Saturday 31 August, 7.30pm
First picking up a guitar aged 13 in 1947, Cohen (widely considered to be second only to Dylan) has enjoyed a career spanning six decades and multiple sell out arena shows across the world. The writer, poet, troubadour and hugely influential artist continues to prove that the hunger to see him is undiminished.
Since returning to the stage in 2008 after a 15-year hiatus, Cohen has lost nothing in his years off the road and his shows have quickly been lauded by critics, with one Telegraph critic stating that watching Cohen is like watching ‘a finished masterpiece by an Old Master.’ Musical majesty.
Cohen was also the first of 47,583 artists to record song Hallelujah... because he wrote it. Up yours Buckley.
Tickets £46.30-£83.75 can be purchased here.
Disco: Almost Famous Silent Disco Closing Party, Beach Club, Great Northern, Saturday 31 August, 8pm – Midnight
It’s been an eventful summer for Almost Famous. The perennial ‘pop-up’ popped up outside Great Northern, while the NQ original popped down... in a fire.
Not to be perturbed they just popped their burgers into Luck, Lust, Liquor and popped up again in Liverpool at the end of July, but now, alas, the Great Northern pop-up is being popped back down in preparation for a new Almost Famous to pop-up permanently in the Great Northern on Deansgate before 2013 is through. Phew.
To commemorate a particularly toasty and successful (what with the other one burning down) summer outside the Great Northern, those Famousers are throwing one last hoedown swathed in burgers, booze and bouncing (not three things that should normally be so brazenly mixed) in the square with a Silent Disco Food Rave.
Mindful of the fact they have already pissed a good proportion of their neighbours off, the guys at Almost Famous are attempting to keep the noise down by adopting festival-favourite, the silent disco. Each attendee is handed a set of headphones through which the DJs can spout as much noise and guff as they want without being pelted by missiles from the balconies of the Great Northern Tower.
Best of all the event is FREE and non-ticketed, with closing down drinks offers nearing the end of the night. Any questions can be directed to @almostfamousmcr
Book: Britain’s Industrial Revolution book talk with author Barrie Trinder, People’s History Museum, Saturday 31 August, 1.30pm-4pm
Britain was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, arguably the most rapid and crucial period of change in human history. Apart from the New Romantic movement. At the heart of these momentous developments was Manchester, powerhouse of the cotton industry and a vital hub for the transport of goods across the country and the globe.
Expert and accomplished speaker Dr Barrie Trinder will explore Britain’s Industrial Revolution and Manchester’s pivotal part in it in a lively talk to be held at the museum. Dr Trinder’s new book has already attracted a great deal of praise and this talk is one of a series as part of a nationwide tour to mark its publication. Barrie will be happy to take questions and sign copies of his book, available in hardback or paperback, which will be for sale on the night.
Tickets £5 including free tea, coffee and biscuits (they’re spoiling us). The ticket also provides a £5 discount for the book on the night.
Call 01524 840111 for tickets or just turn up on the day.
Exhibition: Hard Rock Couture, Hard Rock Café, The Printworks, Friday 30 August-until Sunday 8 September
What do Jean Paul Gaultier’s gold pyramidal boobie corset for Madonna, The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers’ Dior feather jacket, Elvis’ prison house jacket from the film Jailhouse Rock and the red leather jacket worn by Michael Jackson in the Beat It video all have in common? Well they’re all jackets, except for Madonna’s pyramidal boobie thing. They’re all also going to be exhibited in the Hard Rock Café over the course of this coming week amongst other pieces of rock and pop history hand-picked from their 77,000+ piece collection. Interestingly, the Hard Rock Café own enough pieces of memorabilia to give one item to every citizen of Scunthorpe. Whether they’d ever see the items again is another matter.
Festival: WestFest, West Didsbury, Saturday 31 August-Sunday 1 September, loosely midday onwards
This year will herald the fifth annual WestFest, a successfully collaborative endeavour staged by the indie businesses of West Didsbury (Yeah Tesco – nobody in WD likes you, except for your cheap milk and bread, and most other convenient bits).
Loosely based around the West Didsburian arteries of Burton Road and Lapwing Lane (and a deli on Nell Lane), the festival has no real format or structure. It’s a festival designed to be as original, off-the-cuff and organic as the businesses that populate the area.
In past years the festival has boasted BBQs, a farmers’ market, live music, wandering poets, mosaic making, art exhibitions, picnics, face-painting, floral workshops, wine tasting, craft events and cookery demonstrations as well as more food and drink to scoff than you could throw a bag of Blagg’s birdseed at.
Keep an eye out for the delightfully friendly Sarah and her truffles from chocolatiers Cocoa Cabana, while cocktail merchants, The Violet Hour, will be putting out a BBQ and keeping the street party atmosphere going well into the night.
For all the goings-on at WestFest see here.
Sunday: The Trof Trophy: Ardwick Powerleague and Deaf Institute Afterparty, Sunday 1 September, 12pm and 4pm
On Sunday, NQ and Fallowfield favourite Trof bar will unite Manchester’s musicians, promoters and venues for a five-a-side football tournament in which teams including Dutch Uncles, Travelling Band, Band On The Wall and Ear to the Ground will raise money for Manchester charity Lifeline.
Sixteen teams will go head to head at the Ardwick Powerleague between 12pm and 4pm, rallying sponsorship through their JustGiving pages (donate here). Spectators are welcome.
The Deaf Institute will be hosting post-match celebrations from 4pm with surprise guest DJs, a Trof Trophy quiz hosted by quiz masters Dutch Uncles plus a variety of ‘money-can’t-buy’ prizes to be won. Entry is FREE and open to everyone.
To raise further funds for the charity, gig tickets, signed memorabilia and festival passes donated by the teams taking part will form a silent auction on Ebay which kicks off on 25 August and runs through till 4 September with all proceeds going direct to Lifeline.
More to be announced about the Trof Trophy on Facebook.
Theatre: Blood Brothers, The Lowry, Monday 2 September-Saturday 7 September, 7.30pm
At first I found Blood Brothers to be very much like champagne, or Radiohead. Not initially as great as everybody in the world was telling me it was. But when I sat back a second time, relaxed, absorbed, ignored the hyperbolic spouting bullshittery, then the virtues came shining through. It’s a fantastic piece of theatre. Blood Brothers is champagne... or Radiohead.
Combining a great score, comedy, tragedy and an engaging exploration of our pesky British class system, Blood Brothers belongs amongst the greats of British musical theatre with Oliver!, Phantom and Billy Elliot.
For over two and a half decades Blood Brothers has been hoarding awards and critical acclaim as it recalls the heartbreaking tale of the Johnstone twins. Separated at birth and brought up on opposite sides of the tracks, circumstances bring the brothers back together once more with tragic consequences.
Tickets £24-£36. Book here.
Here is a snippet from a previous production:
Art: The Writing’s On The Wall: Urban Art and Photography, Terrace, Thomas Street, NQ, Wednesday 4 September
Anybody who has walked past the massive Converse-sponsored tit on Newton Street, ventured into Kosmonaut, or more recently spotted (the now vandalised) American-TV-show-of-the-moment Breaking Bad character Walter White splayed across a wall on Tib Street will tell you that graffiti and the Northern Quarter have a fairly amorous relationship.
Well a new eight week event in NQs Terrace bar will showcase images by local photographer Photosbyness of urban art in Manchester city centre from her recently released photo-book The Writing’s On The Wall.
Drawing from her surroundings, Ness Cohen exhibits her urban artworks in bespoke frames made from materials relating to graffiti and Manchester. As well as Ness’ work, popular street artist Russ Meehan will be on hand to provide live graffiti painting on Wednesday’s opening night.
The event will also run a silent auction with all proceeds going to the homeless charity Mustard Tree.
More by Photosbyness here.
Event: Radio 5 Live: Energy Day, MediaCity Piazza, Thursday 5 September
We're in an energy crisis don't y'know. And no this isn't another rallying cry against global warming to save the Polar Bear because it's got nowhere to live now because it's all melted so it has to swim around all day long until it gets too tired and solemly sinks to the bottom of an arctic trench. No, we're genuinely running of energy. Britain has to close a number of coal, oil and nucleur plants to meet EU environmental laws. Half of our coal plants are set to close by 2015 in fact. All could shut down by 2023. Bugger.
So what to do? Why get Richard Bacon to power his show solely by exercise bike of course. Problem sorted. Radio 5 Live are to hold an Energy Day this Thursday, creating a platform for the national energy debate to be discussed in a new way. An outside studio will be powered entirely be renewable energy for a full twelve hours and Ed Davey MP and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change will be taking questions and discussing the issue. There'll be wind turbines, a huge human hamster wheel, see-saws and an alternative use for the chip fat from the BBC canteen. Bloody hoggish media folk, it's all their fault you know.
FREE. Members of the public are encouraged to get involved in the project. More info here.
Music: Acoustic Amnesty, 2022NQ, Dale Street, NQ, Thursday 5 September
Amnesty International is an independent global movement of more than 3 million members in over 150 countries who have been campaigning for the pursuit of human rights for over half a century.
For the benefit of the organisation, a number of musicians and poets are descending on new find-me-if-you-can venue 2022NQ for an evening of totally acoustic entertainment. No mikes. No amps. Performing on the night will be Quiet Loner, TG Elias, Chris Flynn, Hawker Reunion, Little Sparrow, Leonie Kate Higgins, Kieren King, Louise Fazackerley and Ben Mellor. Don't ask 'who?' just go and give something back to humanity you wizened old misanthropist.
Follow David Blake on Twitter @david8blake
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