How many times can a story be told? Speak to young bands from Manchester, and they roll their eyes at the thought that no music has happened in the city since 1995.
The city’s titanic music scene sits like a black hole in its history, sucking everything in.
If it wasn’t made by New Order, the Smiths or the Happy Mondays then it didn’t happen.
It could be worse
It could be worse, though. You could be a band from Liverpool hearing another story about the Beatles.
Anyway, there was a certain wariness about going in on The Hacienda: The Club That Shook Britain (BBC One), which looked to tell the story of a seminal Manchester nightclub and scene which people of a certain age might have heard more than once.
The Hacienda was open between 1982 and 1997, going from being an ambitious but little-attended gig venue to the single most exciting room in the country by the end of the ‘80s.
Reinventing the rave scene
As many other young British DJs and promoters did at the same time, it tapped into the house and techno sounds of Chicago and Detroit, helping to invent the British rave scene and club culture as we know it today.
Part of what made the Hacienda different was the pop music around it, with New Order and the Happy Mondays’ story tied firmly in.
Members of both bands are interviewed in this potted talking heads history, with co-owners New Order’s amiably eccentric Peter Hook and Stephen Morris coming across, as always, less like pop stars than the best cast members Coronation Street never had.
‘Off-your-face dance music’
“It was off-your-face dance music with booming bass beats and s***,” struggles Ryder boldly to explain how the dancefloor felt, before giving up. “I’m not good at answering this sort of s***, I don’t do this!”
It’s one of the most enjoyable quotes within the documentary, which told a good story in the hour it had, but which frittered too much of that away on the same old platitudes which always turn up in programmes about seminal music scenes.
Many minutes were expended on fans including Noel Gallagher telling us it was a revolution or a religious experience, how boundaries were broken and the world had never seen anything like it.
Thank goodness for footage of Pete Waterman on The Hitman and Her, marvelling in the DJ booth with M-People’s Mike Pickering that “sometimes he’s actually playing two records at once… it’s all clever stuff here.”
A missed opportunity
Yet when the late visionary and local TV presenter Tony Wilson – sadly seen too little– compares the Hacienda to a cathedral and the great clubs of New York and Paris, he sounds utterly compelling.
It was an adequate programme, but it felt like a missed opportunity too, because you just know there’s a great deep-dive, multi-part documentary to be had on this story.
It could have held longer on the New York scene which inspired New Order, the roots of British house in the country’s black youths, the gay scene and gangland culture which had a late influence on the club, and writer Dave Haslam’s linking of the Hacienda to the politics of the Thatcher era.
Maybe next time – because you know it won’t be long before this story is back.