Madchester

A man who can’t understand that disco biscuits and chocolate biscuits aren’t quite the same thing, our… what’s that? He’s done it again, hasn’t he?

Illustration: Joel Benjamin

Manchester is about to get a “Madchester” bar, a place dedicated to the heady days of kinky afros, twisted melons and smiley-faced ravers. If you don’t know what Madchester was, it was a three-day period in the 20th century in which the northern English industrial town of Manchester got so off its face it was later found in the trouser aisle of Debenhams mumbling, “Nice one, sorted” while feeding Skittles to a mannequin. By the time you are reading this, the bar may be built: all decked out in black and yellow Haçienda chic, splattered-paint walls in honour of the Stone Roses, Warhol-esque prints of bewigged organ fiddler Clint Boon, and Shaun Ryder’s head on a spike.

I am a child of Madchester, and back in ye olden days I boogied at The Haçienda as it collapsed under the weight of gangs and guns. Thing is, Manchester used to be a tip. Its main bus station was a sunken garden mostly full of dangerous ghouls trying to sell you unlabelled meat. Could you get a skinny soya aubergine latte served on a bed of quinoa and yoga mats? Could you chuffery.

Anyway, the thought of all this commercialised nostalgia makes me choke on my hooded tops – even the ones smeared in kebab juice. If I wanted a novelty Mancunian drinking experience, I’d have a naked Mark E Smith drizzle me in vermouth. Even he is from Bury which, as any proper local shall witheringly tell you, is not flipping Manchester.

This nostalgia-for-cash isn’t just a Manc problem. I love Liverpool, but I have no desire to go to The Beatles museum to ride a yellow submarine across a zebra crossing – or whatever it is they have there. Glasgow is the best city ever, but the moment they set up a Travis theme bar, I’m bulldozing the place. I’m sure Newcastle’s great, but one whiff of Gazza’s ‘Fog On The Tyne’ and I’m putting on concrete shoes and taking a dive.

I’m sure the south has some musical tropes too, but to my northern brain anything below Stoke is one amorphous mass of silver-spooned posh people where everyone is chums with the Queen. Don’t pretend you don’t know her, everyone from Dartford.

What offends me most about a Madchester theme bar is what it says about my beloved Manchester. My city is a city of Autechre. A city where musicians hacked Game Boys at the Futuresonic Festival. A city which took the anniversary of the humongous 1996 IRA bomb and created D:Percussion, a digital music festival without a single byte of nostalgia. I even ran an experimental DJ night myself, including one where we bugged the room and remixed conversations over beats. Will the Madchester theme bar have a tasteful exhibition stand dedicated to that? Nope.

What I’m saying is, Manchester needs to champion its experimental electronic music history by having a massive statue of me. A huge Fat Roland 20-foot tall, swaying in the wind, made of kebab meat. People would bow daily before Massive Fat Roland. This is a brilliant idea. At 20 quid a view I’d rake it in. Although do me a favour: stick it next to the Madchester bar so I can check out all the old tunes, yeah? Nice one, sorted.

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