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Sleuth 22/01/2010: a special music report

Sleuth finds out about Manchestoh, the Haciendoh and the futoh

Published on January 21st 2010.

Sleuth 22/01/2010: a special music report

Sleuth is a sideways glance at the city every week. We give £25 for every story/rumour and piece of absurdity you find for us to print. We ask for the money back if any legal action follows.

So Sleuth goes to the press launch of FAC251 The Factory, the new live music and indie club in Manchester. This was formerly Paradise Factory and before that the headquarters of Factory Records. The launch is attended by Peter Hook, of New Order, Mani of Primal Scream and the Stone Roses, and Aaron Mellor.

I might moan about the money we spent, but Factory created something wonderful, sometimes you wonder why anybody would complain about that? If we can have some of what Factory created that would be great.

Mellor is the man behind Tokyo Industries which has 15 venues across the UK including the award winning Digital in Newcastle and Brighton and the Tokyo Mansion Party venues. He is looking nervous.

Calling a club Factory, which recalls the Hacienda and its lack of profitability, plus sitting next to Peter Hook, seems reason enough for Mellor's anxiety.

“The thing is despite what I've said and written I did enjoy running the Hacienda,” says Hook on being asked why he wanted to be part of another club. “I enjoyed the music the Hacienda played, the bands it highlighted in the early days. And I enjoyed the perks like getting in past the queues as the owner and so on. I enjoyed it even though it made no money. So what happened was Aaron approached me to get involved when I was in Newcastle promoting my book, The Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club - the idea somehow seemed right.”

Hook pauses with a twinkle in his eye. “Now I'm hoping to ruin his other fifteen clubs.”

Peter Hook is good at tongue in cheek, good at cheeky charm. Early in the launch his phone rings. He answers it: surveying the scene in front of him, “sorry mate, can't talk,” he says, finishing with a wink, “I'm in a press conference.”

It's a curious gathering at FAC251 The Factory: mainly male and as many people in their middle-ages as there are twenty somethings. Given the profile of the panel and the name of the club Sleuth sort of expected this.

There's also that particular Mancunian character to the meeting: a mix of braggadocio combined with shyness, a gruff insecurity which probably explains a lot about Manchester bands.

Some of the accents in the room are killers. It's all Manchestoh, the Haciendoh and the futoh.

They are so excessively Manc they seem they've been learnt at RADA for a method acting role in Shameless. You wonder whether people are going to slip out the back at some point for a fag and break into effortless RP saying things like: “Julian, darling, you were marvellous as that thirty four year old journalist from Gorton who found battling his way into the media a real struggle, given his tough background. You were totally convincing, the real deal.”

It's one of the Perfect Mancunian Accents who raises dark memories by asking, “Who are you going to have on the door now the Noonans are gone?” This reference to the naughty south Manchester family who blighted the Hacienda's door policy provokes nervous laughter. The situation is rescued by another Perfect Mancunian Accent.

“I'd like to ask Aaron, how will you make the new club pay?”

“You constantly re-invent the place, put different nights on, mix things up,” says Mellor. “I was a big fan of Factory and I wanted a reminder of all that happened with them, and what Factory represented. This building was going to be flattened for flats, but that didn't happen in the current economic climate. I stepped in because I thought that this would be a great addition to the 15 clubs elsewhere. There is a bit of nostalgia, but it's not about just the past it's also about great new music.”

“What are your memories of the Hacienda, Mani?” asks another Perfect Mancunian Accent.

The Primal Scream bassist quips back, “What's the Hacienda?” before giving the right answer. “I see this place more like the old PSV, the old Russell Club in Hulme, rather than the Hacienda, a place where as a kid I used to go in my punk clothes. That was a melting pot of creativity. We can have a cheeky wink to the past but we're looking to the future, a place for people who love music to hang out and enjoy it. We're looking forward with this place, not backwards.”

Sleuth asks whether they're bothered that people might criticise them for harking back to Factory Records yet again with the name. Some readers on Confidential, for example, have expressed their disapproval.

“If the criticism is well given and justified than that's ok,” says Hook. “We're using the name here because it's well known, but really all we're doing is providing another place to play and to listen to music. Having said that we're proud of that past. I might moan about the money we spent, but Factory created something wonderful, sometimes you wonder why anybody would complain about that? If we can have some of what Factory created that would be great.”

There's a ripple of applause, a spontaneous outburst of love for the dream that was Factory.

The sincerity evident among Hook, Mani and Mellor is plain to see. It drips from them.

They really want 'FAC251, The Factory', to be a landmark on the Manchester music scene, a scene which as Hook points out above, has much to be proud about.

If they have their way then it will be a benchmark venue in Europe mixing live bands, indie and dance influences across three floors. It will as the press release says, aim to be, 'open-minded and inclusive with its booking policy, a forum for all types of bands and club styles' with a 'top-rate production and sound' system.

The original designer, Ben Kelly, has been invited back to oversee the three floor renovation as well. Kelly was of course the man who converted the old industrial unit here to Factory Records headquarters in the nineties before the company went bust and the offices became Paradise Factory nightclub.

Sleuth spots some odd looking chairs.

“Are they Ben Kelly designs?” he joshes about some lurid motorway service station type furniture.

“Er, no we borrowed them from the IBIS Hotel over the road, which was kind of them,” comes the deadpan reply.

Sleuth stands around for a while surveying the scene as the three key players in the meeting file out for a photo-shoot.

“Last time I was in this part of the building,” he said, “it was when it was the club and I was taking a group of lesbian journalists around the city. I had a dance with them.”

“Last time I was here,” says Chris Sharrock, ex-City Life and ex-Metro Life editor, “someone got stabbed on the dancefloor by a man just out of prison. They sorted it out in half an hour, cleaned the blood up and re-opened the dancefloor.”

A moment's silence fell. It was sort of moving. A tribute to Manchester's inexhaustible ability to pick itself up and carry on.

“This coffee is instant,” said someone else, staring into his plastic cup.

Bloody journos, ingrates the lot of them, thinks Sleuth and leaves the building wishing the venture nothing but success and filled with a warm fuzzy glow of Manchester love.

FAC251 opens on Friday 5 February. The opening night comes complete with Peter Hook's The Light, a one off performance of a Manchester supergroup including Mani, Hook, Rowetta, Howard Marks and special guests. An exclusive competition for tickets for this event is coming up on Confidential.

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

ManyJanuary 22nd 2010.

Makes me nostalgic for the good old days. Makes me smile to think of them. Hope this works out well.

Trevor TJanuary 22nd 2010.

Great idea. More live music the better

HermanJanuary 22nd 2010.

I once went to Paradise Factory and ended up with a hairdresser from Eccles. Good times. Look forward to Factory.

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2010.

Can I - on my first post on the new mancon site (which is great by the way!) - be a tad heretical and perhaps suggest it's time to move on? Harking back to the glory days tends to be a bit of an obsession for a certain clique of Manchester society, but it leaves the rest of us a bit cold. Even the opening night line-up looks really tired. Sorry to be negative, and to hide behind anonymity, but someone had to say it!

CasJanuary 22nd 2010.

I agree.

GordoJanuary 23rd 2010.

Well, I missed the Hacienda years as I was spending most of my life in the South of France at the time thinking I was a multi millionnaire, so I am looking forward to looking at this.

AnonymousJanuary 25th 2010.

you need to give this webpage a sideways glance in order to actually make out the editorial amongst the oversize adverts and offers. Not enjoying the new ManCon. :0(

Johnny B GoodeJanuary 26th 2010.

Well, anon, I quite like it, it's much easier to find your way around. As Gordo was banging on about in one of the blogs, you are not not going to miss it. I don't the the commercial stuff is over te top either.

Lavinia LAncasterFebruary 1st 2010.

Fabulous article JS and rolling round floor about RADA schooled Manchestoh accents. Intersitng choide of name
For purely personal reasons this is best but “Julian, darling, you were marvellous as that thirty four year old journalist from Gorton ....... the real deal.”

But I digress, I hear a teeny weeny rumour from talk in BP last week that the ELbow bpoys might appear.....Now that would be worth going for

AnonymousFebruary 4th 2010.

How dare middle age people be seen at the pre opening of a club.... incidentally how old is Sleuth?

SleuthFebruary 4th 2010.

Sleuth is any age and every age, he is legion. The point he was making is contained in the sentence after the one that you referred too.

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