Wednesday, 28 July 2010


I finally made the trek into the 'grim' north of England last weekend and the city of Manchester did not disappoint. Making the trip to document the Ghosts of Madchester Past as well as the archaic skeletal structures of the industrial revolution, Manchester's atmosphere was unpretentious and the converted warehouses throughout the inner city gave the area a touch of New York ambience. The impressive remains of these factories and warehouses from the city's rich 19th century manufacturing heritage (below) provide many a modern Mancunian with a hip living/work space (below right).
The Museum of Science and Industry provided an excellent overview of the city's industrial history, including an enormous warehouse filled with engines (below), textile manufacturing and aviation buildings in addition to exhibits charting the development of gas, electricity and nuclear power. An enlightening experience indeed spending half a day at this wonderful museum.


Of course there was no way I was visiting Sir Steven Patrick Morrissey's hometown without taking a sniff around the local Madchester sites - starting with legendary Factory records-owned Hacienda 'nitespot' which now houses rather dull-looking apartments (below). While aesthetically the building retains no trace of the 80s/90s superclub (apart from the name), I did manage to find a small piece of Shaun Ryder's brain on the footpath outside.

I stopped for a snifter in the creative Northern Quarter of town - at Oldham Street's Dry Bar (pictured below) - originally owned by Tony Wilson and still displaying the sharp graphic yellow style and unique catalogue number characteristic of much of Factory record's sleeve and advertising design. The bar's interior felt a little shabby and outdated, nevertheless the venue seems to be a Manchester music institution not least of all because both Shaun Ryder and Liam Gallagher are alleged to have been barred from the establishment.  

Due to utter incompetence and total disorganisation I managed to miss the infamous Salford Lads Club featured inside the Smiths' The Queen Is Dead album, a truly lacklustre performance on my behalf. I did however, hunt high and low for the iconic Strangeways traffic sign (below top) featured on the band's final studio album Strangeways, Here We Come...but all I could manage to locate was this post-modern and somewhat charmless version (below bottom). Moz would have been outraged.

Finally, I travelled on the winding Eccles tram out to Salford Quays, the regenerated docks area of western Manchester. The brilliant Lowry arts complex (right) is the area's main attraction - named after the artist L. S. Lowry who was noted for naive paintings of  workers and urban scenes of the city's industrial districts. Lowry remained a bachelor and loner throughout his life, producing a prolific artistic output documenting Northern industrial & coastal landscapes whilst holding down a straight job as a rent collector at the Pall Mall Property Company.
Further relics of Manchester's industrial past were evident in the Salford Quays area including these impressive rusty twin cranes, lording it over the canals with a certain iconic and charming authenticity.

Lastly, not forgetting this eccentric local chap, out for a pleasant ride in the Castlefield historic area in his natty Sunday best...

Monday, 12 July 2010


Isn't it a fine thing to still be able to view new film releases from the legendary directors you first discovered as an impressionable teenage slacker in the cult classic section of your local video shop? No, I'm not talking about Woody Allen's Whatever Works (in that film - nothing) or Scorsese's melodramatic Shutter Island, but rather Francis Ford Coppola's epic Tetro starring achingly charismatic indie weirdo Vincent Gallo and stunning (if jailbaitish) newcomer Alden Ehrenreich.

Tetro continues Coppola's commendable move toward more auteurish film-making begun with 2007's Youth Without Youth. The film centres on Gallo's bull-in-a-china-shop bohemian Tetro (in self-imposed South American exile from his family) and his younger brother Bennie's attempt to forge a relationship with him - piecing together Tetro's mysterious past through his coded writings.

Coppola's balmy Buenos Aires setting and stark black and white cinematography reference the anxious Tijuana tension of Orson Welles' Touch Of Evil, and the film's protracted overwrought theatre sequences in the second half are positively Felliniesque. Just as the baroque, meandering narrative threatens to lose it way, the film sharply plunges back into focus with the revelation that Tetro is not Bennie's badass brother at all, but an altogether more sympathetic, complex and ultimately likable character.

Name checking Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes and other key films in the narrative, Coppola has crafted a film lover's film, rich with all the traditional strengths of vintage film-making so often missing from today's often deplorably formulaic Hollywood fare. Now if only Vincent Gallo would stop the witch hunt against Harmony Korine and 'poorly hung men' and reply to my emails...the twat.

All images courtesy of Google