The other day there was a big Manchester flareup on the popular gossip site Popbitch, some of it not far off what’s been said on FUC51. Amongst the usual maelstrom of expletives, poster ‘billy_squier’ made a few good points, which we reproduce below. Fuc51 for the most part agrees.
Here's a funny thing about Mancs, and this is completely without malice, believe it or not. For most of the 70s and 80s, Mancs used to enjoy sneering at Liverpudlians because of our supposed unwillingness to crawl out from under the shadow of the Beatles (well, they couldn't sneer about the football in those days, could they?) or our eagerness to turn Liverpool into a Beatles theme park. We'd never sell our city out like that, they'd say, conveniently overlooking the fact that, in order to "sell out", you need to have something people want to buy into. Which Manchester never really did. At least, not until it became ‘Madchester’. They'll never admit this, but it's true. That much-vaunted Mancunian civic pride manifested itself in all those ridiculously self-regarding "...And God Created Manchester" t-shirts, and for a short while the whole world seemed to revolve around the place in the way plenty of Mancs believe it still does.
Now, just because a few new bands are pissed off that they keep being asked questions about Joy Division (who were, relatively speaking, all but forgotten ten years ago), this supposedly represents a cushion held over the face of Manchester's cultural well-being? Congratulations, Mancs - you've finally caught up with Liverpool in 1981. The trick now is how to come to terms with the fact that, no matter how wonderful you think your city is, the only thing most outsiders will ever be interested in - apart from the football - is Madchester and its attendant peripherals. As is so often the case, Liverpool has already been there and done that. Plenty of Liverpudlians realised years ago that it may as well be them making money off the Beatles, just as Hooky is now grabbing the opportunity to finally make a few quid off the Hacienda. Anything good that emerges apart and away from all that in the meantime will surely rise - that's if it is any good. Personally, I'm just wondering if this perpetual 80s revival will ever fucking end.
The good usually DOES rise – in fact, one of Manchester’s last high hopes we remember were for Nine Black Alps, The Longcut and Polytechnic. They even shared a stage one giddy sell-out night at The Academy a few or more years ago. 3 Manchester guitar bands who didn’t sound like Oasis, who were at times genuinely exciting. We remember one hack trying to unsuccessfully shoehorn a New Order reference into a Longcut live review, but for the most part they were safe . Could this be it? (OK, NBA were grunge for those who were too young to remember, but bear with us here) – alas, no. A combination of terrible A+R decisions, amateur management ('go for the biggest advance you can, lads - I'm pretty sure you don't have to pay it back’) and just rotten bad luck mean that all three bands are presently a bit off-radar in the eyes of the outside world.
Where we’re at now – well, time to retreat back into the comfort zone. Joy Division ARE a cushion over the face, insomuch as The Whip and Delphic are comparatively easy to write about, if you chuck their name in the mix. Both bands filled the ‘can we get something New Ordery on here?’ slot on Kitsune comps and both will obligingly churn out something vaguely dancefloor-friendly whilst not presenting too much of a challenge to the ear. It’s almost impossible not to mention the 'J-word'. The PRs representing any band lucky enough to get to that stage of a career where they can afford a PR in a first place – well, PRs are not known for being great thinkers anyway - but if there’s a path of least resistance when they’re pitching a band, they’ll find it. ‘A bit Joy Division’ down the phone is always going to win over anything too polysyllabic. Thank fuck this crop of bands don’t need much explaining.
New bands? 'Well, with all this FAC251 stuff and 'Doubt' kicking around, our music pages are a bit full mate. I'm not going out on a fucking Tuesday either. Thanks for asking though'.
We disagree on ‘finally making a few quid off the Hacienda’ though. 20 years and counting.