Phil Brady goes back to Manchester on Monkey Business. Rusholme Ruffians, baltis, bazaas, bouncing bombs and a hundred year anniversary of a city centre park.
Overall - 9/10
For me, a Mancunian homecoming has northern nostalgia spunked all over it like a Squire painting. My first gig was The Stone Roses at Spike Island and now, 20 years on, Ian Brown returns home to play to a 15,000 strong crowd in Platt Fields, a park situated between Rusholme (the curry centre of the north) and Moss Side, in the city of Manchester. This was a local’s party but everyone was invited.
A mixed Mancunian line-up unravelled across three stage with shows from The Whip, Bad Lieutenant, Scratch Perverts, A Certain Ratio, Peter Hook, Mike Pickering, Mr Scruff and Now Wave DJ’s.
UNKLE, among a handful of other ‘out of town’ acts, also made the trip to pay homage to The King Monkey, Ian Brown, and join in the centenary celebrations for Platt Fields.
Getting there and back - 9/10
Manchester has one of the best public transport systems in the UK and getting to and from Platt Fields couldn’t have been easier. Just get a train into town and jump on a bus from Oxford Road station or walk into Piccadilly Gardens from Piccadilly Station and get one from there. One arrives every five minutes and it takes about 10 minutes travel time, depending on the traffic. On the east side of the park is Wilmslow Road (The Curry Mile), said by some to be the busiest route in Europe.
The site - 9/10
Platt Fields, one of Manchester’s principle parks, is a Victorian green space right in the heart of the city. The stages were all close enough to navigate to through the thrall but there was a slight sound clash when the wind blew the sound around the park. As Bernard Sumner noted: “who’s that playing ‘Blue Monday’ in the dance tent? Hooky is that you?”
There were two big bars, a nice market area where you could buy the usual festival fantasia and plenty of clean toilets. The hospitality area was first class with a large bar, restaurant and posh toilets.
The only gripe, we discovered afterwards, was the three-hour queue for entrance with many people missing most of the bands they wanted to see.
Atmosphere – 8/10
The atmosphere was a mix of nostalgia and reunion, with lots of smiling faces and of course dancing - Mancunians could groove to a boiling kettle. There were a few drunken fights, which was disappointing, but they seemed to sort themselves out and no one was really hurt. Rough and ready lads, students, pretty girls, Manchester celebrities, faces from the past and some from the future mixed with regular festival-goers who were all there for one thing and that was to have a good time in the sunshine.
Ian Brown - 10/10
Some might say that Ian Brown is a little temperamental when it comes to playing live, but when he is on form he takes the stage by storm. Well, this was his party and with all of his mates there, he took Manchester by storm opening with ‘I Wanna Be Adored’. He was joined by more and more local celebrities and hangers on as the gig evolved from mainly songs from Brown’s third album to his more contemporary material. It became apparent that he was sticking to the songs that he was good at live.
He bounced around like the bomb as he pleased his adoring audience with all the classics and tunes from his new album. The crowd didn’t stop dancing, chanting and singing their hearts out all through the set. He went off to a roaring applause as he said “right it’s time for tea and biscuits. Cheese and biscuits, plenty of cheese”, and came back on stage with “You just want Stone Roses songs don’t you? Well this one is called ‘All Our Yesterdays’,” implying that we need to move on from the past and get into his new stuff. He then broke into ‘Fools Gold’ and the crowd exploded.
Bad Lieutenant - 9/10
Made up of Stephen Morris (ex Joy Division/New Order) on drums and Bernard Sumner on vocals and guitar with a little help from Jake Evans, this New Order off-shoot debuted four of their own songs before departing into Joy Division and New Order classics. ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ went down well and, of course, they saved ‘Love Will Tare Us Apart’ as an encore, some spine tingling stuff.
UNKLE - 8/10
UNKLE provided were intense and dark show that with an over riding bass frequency that lay nicely above the drums. Band members James Lavelle and Tim Goldsworthy were joined onstage by guest singers who shrilled over the sub sound to make it a unique and heart-thumping experience.
The Whip - 7/10
Opening the day after a late start by Now Wave DJ’s were the Oldham based four-piece electronic band The Whip. Although there were only three of them, they played a full sound with minimal keyboard melodies, thumping bass guitar and live drums with songs called ‘Trash’, and ‘Divebomb’. A nice little opener for the main stage.
Mike Pickering - 7/10
Mike is an ex-Hacienda DJ and he didn’t disappoint as he played us into the headline act from behind the decks on the main stage.
Scratch Perverts - 0/10
Unfortunately they didn’t turn up. Come on lads, make an effort.
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