The Haçienda is the clubbing institution which sat at the epicentre of Madchester’s notorious nightlife in the 80s and early 90s. Though ultimately a cautionary tale, the North West’s most infamous nightspot holds a place in clubber’s hearts for its contribution to the scene. Though it closed its doors for good in 1997 after years of financial mismanagement and several run-ins with the authorities, it’s legacy lives on.
In the wake of the explosion of dance/classical hybrid concerts, former residents Graeme Park, Mike Pickering & Peter Hook have breathed fresh-life into the brand. A live album was followed by an extensive tour which graced the likes of Manchester’s Albert Hall, Kew Gardens and even made an appearance at Glastonbury. Now the showcase is set to land in Brighton on 9th September. Mike, Parky & Hooky will all be on hand, plus full-orchestra and support from Groove Armada.
We take a look at 5 tracks from Haçienda Classical’s repertoire you can expect hear.
808 State – ‘Pacific State’
Sax never sounded so good. A regular “go-home” track to close the Haçienda, ‘Pacific State’ frustrated clubbers desperate to ID their favourite chillout track long before the days of Shazam. Bizarrely, it didn’t get national coverage until it was “discovered” in Ibiza many months later. Tracks that are both downtempo, yet have boundless energy are few and far between. But Pacific State manages to tick both boxes. Just hearing that birdsong sample is enough to take you away to a paradise destination.
A Guy Called Gerald – ‘Voodoo Ray’
Perhaps the most famous acid house track of the them all. And produced by a Brtish producer in the UK instead of being imported from Chicago. ‘Voodoo Rays’ sample loop was catchy enough to hypnotise dancefloors back when it was released in 1988. And despite not being an obvious-choice for an orchestrated version, Haçienda Classical felt it worthy enough of being performed on that basis alone.
New Order – ‘Blue Monday’
New Order are eternally synonymous with The Haçienda. And for good reason. The 80s synth-pop band formed from the surviving members of Joy Divison and brought electronic music to the masses. Not only were the band members regulars at The Haçienda, but they were reluctant shareholders. Owing to some quite unbelievable stories of mismanagement on behalf of their label, Factory Records, their paths are entwined. The promo vid is an infamous as the track itself. And not only is the one of the best-selling singles of all-time and most sampled tracks in the history of music, but it’s still getting heavy rotation. A stone-cold classic.
Ultra Naté – ‘Free’
A cheesy choice? Perhaps. But a sing-a-long favourite? Undeniably so. How much ‘Free’ actually took over dancefloors back in the day is fiercely debated. What is indisputable is how well Haçienda Classical’s rendition went down on Worthy Farm earlier this year. Picture the scene: an estimated 100,000 people had just conducted a minutes’ silence in honour of the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster and the Manchester & London terrorist attacks. Then Haçienda Classical open the Pyramid Stage, and before long a sea of festival goers are belting this out at the top of their lungs. What a moment. Those lyrics never felt more poignant. We’re hoping for an encore at Brighton Racecourse on 9th Sept.
Joe Smooth – ‘Promised Land’ (1987)
Over the infamous Summer of Love Years ’88 & ’89, Manchester became the spiritual home of acid house. It was very much the promised land, and eclipsed the influence of London despite what the record books might have you believe. Brighton, too, has a deep-rooted musical heritage and is well-documented as a basecamp for anti-establishment youth movements. Despite their geographical distance, the two cities are united in this respect. Therefore Joe Smooth’s ‘Promised Land’ is a shoe-in to be heard. Anthony Thomas’ lyrics of unity and freedom were originally about Afro-American civil rights and the fight for equality. But they were adopted by the acid house scene as a growing liberal movement emerged from clubland.