An event called In the City happened a couple of weeks ago, which is basically a whole heap of live music and bands trying there darndest to 'make it big', playing at different venues around 'the city'. Anyway, Columbo runs a festival so we went along to Dry Bar to check out one of the bands she is interested in having play at her event. I've forgotten the bands we saw by now, but it was nice to take a trip back in time and learn a bit about the Manchester music scene over the years.
Anyway - long story short... we all saw Control, right? Some of us have maybe even seen 24 Hour Party People... or heard the names Tony Wilson or Factory Records thrown about? Maybe you've heard of the Hacienda? What about the Happy Mondays, The Smiths or The Stone Roses? And god knows, we all know Oasis. So to all too briefly summarise - Manchester music scene in the not too distant past. Quite interesting.
Anyhoo, from what i can gather (and i really do have minimal basis for the following statements), it seems to me as though some scenesters are still revelling back the glory days of the 80's and 90's. Talk to any Mancunian, and they'll tell you during that period, Manchester was the centre of the universe. The city was pumping out some quality music, not to mention quality football...(!) Though some are caught up in the nostalgia of past conquests, i think few would disagree when i say i think Manchester still has a lot going for it culturally.
Unlike its neighbour, Liverpool, Manchester hasn't had a load of EU fundage pumped into it of recent times to create a sort of commercially generated facade of 'culture'... (which i think really dupes Liverpool... there has been genuinely interesting history in the place, but instead it has been reduced to tacky Beatles tours/museums and the cafe and tourist infested Albert Docks) however, there have been two widely recognised major events in the last decade or so, which have really contributed to Manchester being the 'livable' city it is today.
First, the 1996 IRA bombing of the Arndale centre, which basically blew up Manchester's big city centre shopping centre. I live right up the road from the Arndale centre (in all its glory) and often walk past the single post box which was left standing after the blast. While no one was killed in this bomb blast (though not really the point), Manchester seemingly has benefited from this, as the shopping precinct was rebuilt (with much nicer stuff!) and many new bars and restaurants in the area.
The other main contributing factor in what's made Manchester a great place to be at the moment has got to be the 2002 Commonwealth Games held here, bringing Manchester into the noughties with a truckload of money being invested in facilities and infrastructure.
As a side note - i do realise i'm not saying anything new here. Mancubist did a great post on the 10th anniversary of the Arndale bombing which is worth a read.
When i first told my people from home i was moving to England, and more specifically Manchester, i was met with a resounding "WHY?"... It wasn't until my dad mentioned where i was moving to one of his friends who'd actually been here and said it was a fantastic city, and then it was a sudden 'yes, by all means Mars... off you go and you do that.. whatever it is you're doing'.
Anyway, i started this post to simply tell you all that i'd done one of the single nerdiest things of my life this week. As part of the Manchester Literature Festival, one of the events which interested Columbo and i was the Manchester Blog Awards. For some time now, i've been chasing down what i once considered to be illusive Manchester blogs. Anyhoo, we found out who was nominated and quickly read through their most recent posts so we'd know what was going on...
It didn't really serve us that well, i never seem to know what's going on. Some of the nominated bloggers did readings, which were all really good. The author of a blog i didn't really like at first glance, did a really engaging reading, so i guess i'll have a second look at that one. There were nerds everywhere - we can only assume other 'anonymous' bloggers. People were 'live blogging' and talking about 'twitter'... which is something i've definitely heard of, but still don't really know what it does. There were people filming and photographing the whole event, which inevitably ended up on flickr. Proof i was actually there, i'm actually in that photo i just linked to! AH!
So there you have it... i said the 'b' word out loud this week, and i'm not entirely sure i'm comfortable with it. After over two years, i'm still not ready to admit that i have a blog or am (cringe) a blogger.
So as i sit in my bed, typing this post on a lazy Sunday morning i can hear the church bells ringing from the cathderal, i am planning on visiting a gallery this afternoon and i'm thinking 'what a brilliant city', with so much to do.
...next week i'll talk about the scallys and the weather.
As a(nother) side note... there are some fantastic pictures of Manchester over here which are well worth a look too!