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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Biting Tongues

In the grey days of late 1970s post-punk Manchester, youth culture was a serious affair: every musical performance was measured mostly by the conviction of its delivery. The term 'New Wave' opened up free vistas where acquired skills could once again be exercised after punk's monochrome blur. It could be applied to anything from a James 'Blood' Ulmer record to the latest Throbbing Gristle release, Magazine to Swell Maps. Move outside that terrain into Sun Ra, Parliament, Frank Sinatra and Martin Denny, and your options were suddenly without limit...

Then came Tony Wilson's Factory Club (at the Russell Club in Hulme) offering an open invitation to experiment that was taken up when Ken Hollings, Howard Walmsley, Eddie Sherwood and a few others decided to make some noise to accompany their 16mm silent epic Biting Tongues. A further performance followed a few weeks later, when Colin Seddon and Graham Massey disbanded their Post Natals project and joined up. The film itself, a flashing series of negative images, became a memory; the name remained.

- extract from the LTM Biting Tongues biography

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