It is impossible to entirely recreate those halycon days when Manchester’s Hacienda nightclub was the centre of a universe so heady the characters and legacy of sound have become legend.
But move forward 20 years to the grassy green on Lytham’s seafront and with the ingenious addition of the live Manchester Camarata orchestra, the rave returned with the gentler, yet equally evocative, music of wind and string instruments accompanying the beats from famous DJ names of days gone by.
The Hacienda Classical is a stroke of genius as it is not just the music which has grown up – many of the audience were there for the heights of Madchester and they returned in their hundreds to leafy Lytham as moody skies rapidly darkened into night.
What followed was a masterclass in re-imagining an era without losing the essence of what kept a generation glued to a dance floor.
Many returned with their Fac51 logo t-shirts, facepaints and fishing hats, originally popularised by Stone Roses drummer Reni, adding to a atmosphere of determined, feisty, nostalgia.
After a warm-up from legends 808 State and their instantly recognisable electronic anthems, the 60-strong Manchester Camerata took to the stage alongside a gospel choir and the Hacienda’s original DJs Graeme Park and Mike Pickering and guest vocalists took the crowd on a non-stop tour of the tunes that made the Hacienda famous.
No-one stopped moving all night as they proceeded through a uplifting set of house tunes, the irresistible beat proving infectious to even those in the crowd far too young to remember the vibes from the early 1990s.
Happy Monday’s Bez popped on and off the stage for some high-spirited dancing and wheeling about in his bright yellow ‘Frack-free Lancashire ‘ t-shirt, pulling the crowd along to a stunning finale with vocalist Rowetta ( also formerly a singer with Happy Mondays for the uninitiated), who had the crowd in seventh heaven as she belted out classics before the heart-raising ‘You’ve got the love’ brought a soul-fulfilling night to an end.
What a night on the green!