I may have been born in the 80s but alas I never got to experience the culture of that decade. Despite watching such films as “24 Hour Party People” and “Control” and countless hours pouring over albums and photos of groups from the 80s, I can only imagine what the “Madchester” scene of the late 1980s might have been like.
Last night I had the opportunity to attend some of the events organized by Beat Film Festival, the festival of new documentary films about musical culture. Beginning on May 27th and ending on June 8th, the festival hosts a variety talks and documentaries about contemporary musicians such as Alice Cooper, David Bowie, Nick Cave, Kathleen Hanna, Amanda Palmer, as well as many others. This festival is a part of the year of cultural exchange between Britain and Russia.
Yesterday on May 31st I attended a lecture by Paul Clay, the organizer of the Manchester International Film Festival. The festival is hosted every other year and provides a slice of Manchester culture for the locals and foreign attendees to enjoy. Many of the performers and documentaries featured in the festival go on to travel the world. Clay shared a slideshow and 2 short documentary clips that allowed the audience in the small movie theatre insight into the festival. Accompanying Paul, Kevin Cummins, the legendary photographer of groups such as The Smiths, Joy Division and the Happy Mondays, presented his archive of photographs of the “Madchester” years. Kevin also shared some of his best stories about what it was like to work with musicians during that era.
The second event of the evening hosted by Beat Film Festival was the “80s Manchester” party. The party feature a slideshow of photographs taken by Kevin Cummins all set to music chosen by DJ Mike Pickering from the “Madchester” era. Songs such as Happy Mondays “Hallelujah,” Buzzcocks “Even Fallen in Love,” New Order “Blue Monday,” not to mention many The Smiths songs were played to a crowd of gin-drunk happy hipsters. The combinations of Kevin’s images set to the best 80s songs created an intoxicating bouncy environment as people danced well into the night. It’s a rare night to stroll through the Moscow centre at night as Morrissey’s voice trails in the air. All in all, I got a glimpse into the Manchester music culture of the 80s I had always wanted.
I shall leave you with my favourite Happy Mondays song which perfectly embodied the evening.