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FAC 151: The Festival of the Tenth Summer
G-MEX, 19 July 1986, Manchester, England
Factory Records

coverpic It was 30 years ago... yesterday! The last day of the week-long event called "The Festival of the Tenth Summer". It was a boozed train ride from London to Manchester, carrying myself and two good friends of mine to see some of our favourites perform live as a tribute to Factory Records and the 10th summer -- meaning 10 years since punk broke, with a reference to the first performance by the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester on 4 June 1976 (where everyone who attended - a 100+ people(?) - started a band, according to the rumours... the birth of 'all of indie, punk and new wave in Manchester'). This week of music, art and exhibition culminated with an all day music festival at the GMEX (Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre) on 19 July 1986, which was given its own catalogue number, FAC151.

According to The Guardian, 4 June 1976 saw 'the birth of indie music... it was the "greatest gig of all time" that "changed music for ever"...'. Yes, members (to be, or who later formed) the Fall, Buzzcocks, Joy Division (and, of course New Order), Magazine, the Smiths, A Certain Ratio, .... The list is probably long-longer-longest. However, that very day the three of us arrived at the GMEX site late afternoon from London, just to notice that the festival we headed for already had been running for several hours. Shite, what a bummer. Anyway, this didn't hold us back, and with the assistance of a rabid but helpful 'steward' we were provided 'backstage' passes which took us inside the hall within a few minutes. The mood or the atmosphere was ecstatic (among the 24-hour-party-people present) as The Smiths already had taken the stage. This was the third gig of the band's first UK leg of The Queen Is Dead tour, which also meant extra guitar player Craig Gannon's third gig with The Smiths. My scepticism (I wasn't really a Smiths fan at the time I entered the GMEX venue) came quickly to pieces as the energy of the band as well as the audience increased and nearly exploded. The band kicked off with the smashing "Bigmouth Strikes Again", followed by "Panic" and a line of the songs (all but two) from their new, fabulous album, the stunning The Queen is Dead. Morrissey was all over the stage with his flowers, the band's banner, his QID-poster and whatever. Amazing stuff, and the place was trembling with musical pop cascades and audience tremors. This was an ecstatic moment which saw the rise of a BIG indie band. They closed their set with (of course) "The Queen Is Dead", but came out for a couple of encores including "Rusholme Ruffians" and yes!, "Hand in Glove" - and the whole place exploded once more, and again! And I was a big fan of the band. Forever and ever.

Me and my friends missed out a lot of the acts that day (or for that long week which this Saturday closed). As the notes from Factory goes: 'The festival celebrating 10 years of Punk, organized by Factory, 12-20 July 1986. A PSA exhibition at the City Art Gallery, a fashion show at the Hacienda, a Kevin Cummins photo exhibition, a music seminar, an exhibition of by Malcolm Garrett and Assorted Images, film & video shows, and concerts/gigs. The show at the Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre on July 19 was the 10th and last event, featuring A Certain Ratio, New Order (feat. Ian McCulloch on "Ceremony"), John Cooper Clarke, The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle, John Cale, The Worst, and Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders; plus also The Smiths, OMD, The Virgin Prunes, Sandie Shaw, Howard Devoto (preceding not listed). Related concerts included Happy Mondays & Easterhouse [at the Manchester Rafters], The Durutti Column [at Manchester's Town Hall], James & The Bodines [at Manchester's PSV Club, originally the Russell, the first Factory club].' Well. We were all bigtime fans of the Buzzcocks and Mr Shelley but I can't recall seeing/hearing Shelley and his mates at all that night. We had even heard rumours of a Buzzcocks reunion with Devoto and all, but... However, we got to see a mind-blowing show by that legendary Welshman, Mr John Cale himself. Cale blew the audience away with his one man show, solo on piano, with highlights being (well, in fact all the songs he performed that night...) "Paris 1919", "Heartbreak Hotel", "Dying on the Vine" and "Close Watch" (I'm not a 100% sure, but I'm close to a 100% sure that this was his closing track). Cale delivered a splendid, blistering, stunning performance. Respect. A 100% of respect.

The night went on and everybody awaited the grand finale with New Order onstage. Being a fan for years, I was excited to see the quartet which had risen out of the ashes of Joy Division. Well, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, and Bernard Sumner had managed the transformation from Joy Division's disintegration following the death of Ian Curtis, and at this time they had released three albums: Movement (1981), Power, Corruption & Lies (1983) and Low-Life (1985). Their singles "Blue Monday" and "Confusion" had been big club scene hits in 1983, and in March of 1986 they had launched their 11th (?) single "Shellshock" which was included on the soundtrack for the film success Pretty in Pink. Anyway, finally - late, late, late in the evening New Order took the stage to massive cheers and jubilation and a party train to heaven happened. However, I 'missed the train', or left the train while standing on the platform, because this was nothing but dullness. I still recall Hooky not even pretending to play his bass, arms hanging down his hips. Probably not for the first or last time. Remember, this was the pre-Madchester days. Well, they blasted through "Shellshock", "Bizarre Love Triangle", "State Of The Nation", "The Perfect Kiss" and more songs (but skipping "Blue Monday" and "Confusion", nor playing any songs off my fave album, Power, Corruption & Lies, right?), but by the time they played "Ceremony" (sung by Ian McCulloch of Echo And The Bunnymen) and "Temptation" we (my friends and I) had long since left the building. We hit the Manchester night, and we probably caught a late train to London. I guess. I don't remember all the details. It's been more than thirty years ago, you know. Thirty years and a day. I guess all the New Order fans in the world (or all of them present at that G-Mex night) might disagree, but FAC151 belonged and will forever be tied to The Smiths. I rest my case.

PS! For more facts on FAC 151, you'd better go see the Factory site.

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