9 Feb 2010
The Light 
Manchester has always had its fair share of 'I was there' moments, and Friday night's (re)opening of FAC251 barged its way, ceremoniously, onto the list.

Any sense of Hacienda-vu - the opening was delayed whilst the builders finished building, the upper floors smelled of paint (some of it still wet), the fire alarm went off and that photo of Tony Wilson hangs above the reception desk - was quickly dispelled as Hooky took to the centre of the stage and, proudly wearing his (and Wilson's) heart - We made HISTORY not money - on his t-shirt, announced: "It's my club and i'll do whatever the f*ck I want!".

He then proceeded to do just that.

During an hour long, free and easy set that included Warsaw, Joy Division, New Order, Monaco and Freebass: Howard 'Mr Nice' Marks ranted, Mani played bass, Hooky played bass, Hooky's son played bass, Rowetta sang Atmosphere, Rowetta sang Insight, unfinished Joy Division and New Order tunes were finished, H air-punched, whooped, sang the wrong verses, paused mid-tune to get his breath back, and generally had the time of his life whilst co-lessor (?) Aaron Mellor stood transfixed at the rear of the stage, clearly loving every minute.

But one event - probably lost on all but the very few who were present at the opening night of the original Charles Street folly - confined the ghosts of how not to run a club to history.

Twenty years ago guests were summonsed by an invitation that consisted of a CD case bearing the axionometric diagram of the building on the cover. In true Factory style somebody forgot to hand out the contents - FACD 251 - on the night.

On Friday, though, VIP (or VASTLY INFLATED PERSONA according to their wristbands) guests were treated to a small gift: a CD case with an identical cover, this time complete with an actual CD.

A cheeky wink to the past indeed. But what of the future?

FAC251 The Factory could be a very interesting proposition: name any band in the world that would turn down an invitation to play in Peter Hook's front room. The fully northern alt-Ronnie Scott's.

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Peter Saville colour wheel
A Certain Ratio

"Manchester, 1978. In the beginning there were four: Jez Kerr (bass), Martin Moscrop (guitar/trumpet), Peter Terrel (guitar/effects) and Simon Topping (vocals/trumpet). Four thin boys with a name borrowed from a Brian Eno record, the intense, drummerless quartet initially drew influence from Wire, Eno, the Velvets and Kraftwerk, and gained a manager in Anthony Wilson of Factory Records.

"May 1979 saw the release of their first ACR single, the dark All Night Party, although the sound and musicianship of the band would be transformed by the arrival of funky drummer Donald Johnson (DoJo) in August. Over the next few months the band gigged widely, often with Joy Division as part of Factory packages, and recorded demos with producer Martin Hannett as well as a Peel session. Their support slot with Talking Heads on their UK tour in December 1979 set David Byrne on a new course, and provided the compelling live half of their chic cassette package The Graveyard and the Ballroom. Post-punk, ACR now reflected the influence of Funkadelic, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, The Bar Kays and James Brown."

- intro to ACR Biography by James Nice (LTM)

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