Freitag, 31. Juli 2009

Manchester - Music and Rain

(this time in English, so that Kay can read the review on The Fall - hey Kay!)
From Liverpool I am doing the rather short trip to Manchester. Well, to Salford precisely, because that's where my hotel is. But it is just a ten minute walk into the city centre, which is great. Manchester welcomes me with rain as I arrive around 2pm, and the it does not stop raining for most of the day. This is why I decide to stroll through some shops in the city and, much more interesting, the Northern Quarter, which is a paradise for second hand & vintage shops (by the way, it is astonishing how many tracktops and jerseys from small German football clubs you can find there!) and, most of all, record shops. Manchester Music City! In the evening I have a Vietnamese noodle dish and go to bed rather early, enjoying the first night in my own room after five days in shared dorms. Silence can be very nice!

After a good and long sleep I wander around the very nice Castlefield canal area - the weather has improved slightly, at least its not raining. After that, I take part in the Manchester Music Tour, which is absolutetly brilliant. Anyone with an interest in British music: do this tour! Our guide, Phill Gatenby, author of the book "Morrissey's Manchester", showed us around important places in Manchester's musical history, e.g. the (former) G-Mex, the Free Trade Hall (Sex Pistols played their first gig out of London there and inspired several people to start bands, Morrissey being only one of them), the famous Hacienda Club - now an apartment complex, or the Boardwalk (see picture on the right), the venue where Oasis did their early rehearsals and first gigs. Nice feeling to be at such a historic place - Live forever!Being a real insider of the Manchester music scene, Phill has many interesting and funny stories to tell. I definitely recommend this tour to any music fan, it is a lot of fun.

After the tour, it is the Northern Quarter once again, shopping at Vinyl Exchange and the Arndale, a very funny vintage "department store" with a lot of little shops - kind of a canopied flea market. After a quick walk back to the hotel I head to the Manchester Academy to meet up with Kay again, who I met during the Music Tour, to see The Fall perform. In contrast to Kay, who is a big fan, I haven't been much into The Fall and I have to admit that I do not recognize a single song during the whole concert - but I like it a lot nontheless. This is mostly due to Mark E. Smith and his odd behaviour on stage. He looks some 70 years old (he is actually 52 and a local - born in Salford) and seems royally bored while singing - or rather speaking - his songs. He plays with all kind of equipment on stage, rolls the mic cables (he uses three different microphones, sometimes simultaneously) around the drum kit so that parts of it collapses, and plunks around on the keyboards - while the keyboard player is actually playing, that is. Amazing, and really entertaining. Furthermore, he is chewing on a huge chewing gum and walks the stage as if he was suffering from a severe pain in the back. After about half an hour, to my amusement and to some people's disbelief, the band leaves the stage only to return a minute later and continue the show. But after one hour, the band really calls it a day. The encore sees Smith singing the first one and a half songs from backstage before returning to the stage for one final song that sees the crowd completely go bonkers. What a great way to finish a show! It was a good idea to see that band - thanks Kay!

Not surprising I wake up late the next day, and it is raining again. I decide to ignore the rain and to go to Salford Quays, where the Imperial War Museum, designed by Daniel Libeskind, and The Lowry gallery are located. I do not feel like entering the war museum however, not in the mood for another depressing exhibition (I had been to the International Museum of Slavery in Liverpool before), so I decide to visit The Lowry, a museum and gallery dedicated to the British artist L.S. Lawry. I even like its strange architecture more than Libeskind's highly praised museum. I quite like it - some of his pictures are good and he has an interesting life story. When I step out of the gallery, it is raining again as I make my way back to the tram. Halfway, the rain becomes really heavy and I am literally soaked - good that I brought my rain jacket at least. Back in the city centre, I do some more shopping, mainly CDs again of course, and have some nice Chinese food in the Chinese quarter. I have really come to like Manchester and will definitely return - maybe for the next Oasis tour, who knows? It's worth a visit!

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