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Manchester Versus Cancer Reviewed

Lizzie Hollingworth and the Mancunian love-in for a worthy cause

Published on February 25th 2008.

Manchester Versus Cancer Reviewed

Now in its third year running, Manchester Versus Cancer has a reputation for its up beat party atmosphere and sense of civic solidarity. This year Manchester’s ultimate night out was still a chance for local revellers, music lovers and any ex-Hacienda frequenters – baby sitter permitting - to flock to the MEN arena for performances by some of the best new bands around.

The Happy Mondays were definitely the highlight. Their set was, surprisingly, not at all shambolic.

This year however, was the first time the event had opened its doors to acts from outside the big happy family that is the musical republic of Mancunia. This meant that the whole identity of the event had changed. Instead of being a fun but shameless celebration of Manchester’s musical achievements, it now has a more generic festival feel.

Obviously there will be those who think the organisers should keep the focus on Manchester music only. But, perhaps this was a good time to branch out and allow the event to develop and change before all options within the city were exhausted.

New Order’s Peter Hook, a patron of the event, let it slip to your Confidential correspondent how he’d like to see the event develop in future years.

“I think a great idea for next time would be Manchester versus Liverpool,” he said, “like the old Factory night we did. But, anyone should be able to do it. The most important thing is that it brings us together for one big cause which is to fight cancer.”

Hooky had no need to fear with this year’s departure form the pure Manchester script as bands like the Fratellis, who hail from our industrial Scottish sister city, Glasgow, and Dundee’s charmingly rugged, The View, fitted in a treat. Manchester versus Scotland rather than Scousers this time around then.

The View’s slightly boozy and incomprehensible but nonetheless chatty singer, told Confidential before the event that their chart topping classics such as ‘Same Jeans’ owe much to Manchester bands.

“The whole city has got a good vibe to it. The only reason we picked up guitars was because of Oasis. And then we got into the Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses. Everyone loves coming to Manchester it’s one of the highlights of our tour,” he paused there before adding. “Especially when you’re stuck in Stockport.”

It was the Enemy who surprised however. These four young scamps from Coventry probably weren’t even born before the Happy Mondays were drying out in post-Madchester obscurity. What they lacked in age and experience though, they certainly made up for with attitude and anthems. This was a big gig for them but they held the audience against all the odds.

Unfortunately though, at the same time last year, the same stage was graced by none other than Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller. They are a hard act to follow, and its fair to say, The Enemy didn’t really follow it. Not that they didn’t have strong tunes and a good show but they simply didn’t have the legendary status and that’s exactly what the event was lacking – a big name headline act.

The Happy Mondays were definitely the highlight. Their set was, surprisingly, not at all shambolic and even though its important to take a step back from reunion gigs and view them for exactly what they are – a slightly self indulgent cash in on former glories - this was still an enjoyable performance.

The Grande Finale with Badly Drawn Boy, Hooky and Andy Rourke was also memorable. Particularly a dedication of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ to the memory of Tony Wilson, whose death makes this event all the more significant in terms of the importance of its cause.

The Inspiral Carpets agreed. They told us: “Tonight is very poignant for us. Tony Wilson was rock’n’roll royalty. He put us on TV twice and the first time we didn’t have a singer. But, he still had us playing live on our show. He was the heart beat of Manchester music for 20 years. Anyone who has ever played a note of music in Manchester owes something to Tony Wilson.”

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21 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousFebruary 25th 2008.

I thought it was a great night! all three manc versus cancer gigs have been mega and dont forget the Tsunami benefit at the Apollo that John Robb put on the year before where this all started from. All goes to show that manchester gets it **** together more than any other city!

JamesFebruary 25th 2008.

"This year however, was the first time the event had opened its doors to acts from outside the big happy family that is the musical republic of Mancunia." Really? Echo & The Bunnymen, McAlmont & Butler and The Charlatans can't really be described as Mancunian.

GordoFebruary 25th 2008.

have you been taking your pills Jonboy?

juliefFebruary 25th 2008.

I enjoyed the whole night but went mainly to see The View and The Enemy who didnt disappoint although The View's set wasnt long enough. As for Badly Drawn Boy... he killed it at the end overdoing the sing along.

GorFebruary 25th 2008.

If no one is available.. BDB will do it

AnnoyedFebruary 25th 2008.

Badly Drawn Boy as the headline act, singing covers was lame. It was BIG let down. Come on, The Enemy were a far better performance despite their less well known status. Everyone I spoke to that was there couldn't believe Badly Drawn Boy was the headline act. Many of us left early. Versus Cancer failed to get the right line up, or the right order. Happy Mondays would have been better headlining. Not some hippie from Chorlton.

JamesFebruary 25th 2008.

The Charlatans are a band from various parts of the Midlands with a singer from Northwich in Cheshire. But, as someone once said, it's not where you're from, it's where you're at.

nathanFebruary 25th 2008.

very good cause besides the arse whingers

gorFebruary 25th 2008.

I bet the fratellis were crap

kippaxFebruary 25th 2008.

well said lord locke..gutted and gor. lesbian knitting classes for you next year.gerroff - we don't want ya around...

GuttedFebruary 25th 2008.

Herb: My apologies. I missed the start and didn't see them get introduced. I couldn't see Andy Rourke. That was probably due to me having 10 to many beers. Just ranting because I was basically gutted it wasn't Ian Brown or Noel Gallagher. Rant over!

HerbsFebruary 25th 2008.

Badly Drawn Boy was hardly 'doing covers on his tod'. I'd see Peter Hook, Andy Rourke and Steve White as pretty big collaborators. I thought Fun Loving Criminals and Happy Mondays were brilliant, and was surprised by how good Athlete were. Everyone harks on about them being depressing and blah blah blah, but i really rated them...'Wires' was ace and really fitted the night.I think the only disapointement was the newer bands like the View and The enemy who were pretty poor, they could've been playing the same songs (for four days now :P) over and over and their set would still have sounded the same.Overall though, a wicked night!

John S. LockeFebruary 25th 2008.

If it was that awful then why don't you ask for your money back then Fat Eskimo?...Charity events are always going to be about charity - to the performer and the cause.See you next year folks!

Lee SinnottFebruary 25th 2008.

I'm annoyed that Versus cancer has taken the event to the o2 Arena with a bigger and better Line up than it had in Manchester.Was it not the good peope of manchester that helped get this event off the ground?

Fat EskimoFebruary 25th 2008.

So john, that means that if a gig is for charity then you can only ever give it five out of five then? In that case, I was so delirious with enjoyment I had to leave early.

juliefFebruary 25th 2008.

Yes Gor, the Fratellis were crap - no personality whatsoever. The View are on fire!!

John S. LockeFebruary 25th 2008.

Badly Drawn Boy and co.'s version of Love will tear us apart was unbelievably good you bunch of moaning tossers!...the finale has always been a collaboration and not just one band.This event is for CHARITY!!!!...All artists appear for FREE!...This event is able to be put together each year through the good will of the performersso please think about that before slagging a performer for appearing rather than not!...Some bloody people get right on my t*ts!

juliefFebruary 25th 2008.

Charlatans are Manc - Weller isnt. McAlmont and Butler made my night last year - fabulous. Who wants to see the same old bands over and over anyway. Make way for the new, I say, wherever they are from.

GuttedFebruary 25th 2008.

I m not saying Badly Drawn boy is awful but he is hardly a special guest. Most people can spot him enjoying a few beers in Chorlton with family. I think someone with a bit more stage presence singing there own or classic material would have gone down much better. Ian Brown, Liam or Noel Gallagher, or even have a super band with Andy Rourke and a few pals having a bit of a jam. But not Badly Drawn Boy singing covers on his tod! Cracking gig, just a shame the end was a let down.

LADY RENFebruary 25th 2008.

The whole night was FUCKING AMAZING and it was an honour to be there! Thanks to the twats who were sick all the down the bastard stairs though! The dry cleaning bill was more than worth it!!

GFebruary 25th 2008.

Everyone chants 'The View are on fire!' but sadly it's a lie. I would pay good money to see The View on fire, they are sooo bad.

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