- On February 20, 2018
Liverpool may have had The Beatles and London The Rolling Stones, but the short-lived music scene that was Madchester is what put the northern powerhouse firmly on the musical map in the late 1980s and early 1990s. From the anthems of The Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays to the merging of dance and indie at the Hacienda, Madchester remains hugely influential in the music of the 21st century.
Joy Division to the Hacienda
The Hacienda was absolutely central to the Madchester scene, but if it hadn’t been for Joy Division the hugely influential club might never have opened. Built with money from Joy Division, New Order and Factory Records this was the place where indie and dance first merged in the late 1980s. As the club moved away from live performances by the likes of the Smiths to DJ-focused house music nights, the scene started to explode. This was the rise of the superstar DJ and the all-night raves that were central to the Madchester scene.
Inside the Factory
Factory records was another big influence behind the scenes, releasing the likes of ‘Blue Monday’ by New Order and ’24 Hour Party People’ by the Happy Mondays. Welding an indie sensibility with house beats to create some of the most influential music of the Madchester scene, Factory Records was as massive as the bands it released.
Named after the informal baggy uniform of the revellers at the Hacienda, baggy was the fusion of guitar music, funk, psych and house beats that produced a new fusion that soon dominated the charts – ‘Kinky Afro’ (Happy Mondays), ‘Sit Down’ (James) and ‘I Wanna be Adored’ (The Stone Roses) were all massive hits that drove a new audience to the Hacienda.
Eventually, the short-lived scene would come to grief thanks to the excess of its drug-fuelled creativity and the rise of other genres like grunge and Britpop. The Hacienda closed in 1997 and was demolished in 2002.
The legacy of Madchester
The original spirit and energy might be gone, but Madchester has left a long-lasting imprint on the city. New Order and The Stone Roses are recording new music, and you can still hear all the old anthems at FAC251, the nightclub owned by New Order’s Peter Hook. The thriving Northern Quarter and the Gay Village are a direct legacy of Madchester, and no trip to the city today is complete without a visit to Oldham Street and the walk of Madchester musical fame.
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