November 13th-15th saw the Louder Than Words Festival take place at the prestige of Manchester’s Palace Hotel. The annual music conference saw an array of speakers and content on the music business to writing and performing, as a weekend of artistic appreciation and celebration. Emily Schofield reports…
Saturday afternoon’s events saw a series of interesting discussion panels, Accidents On The East Lancs – Tales From Two Cities explored the histories of Manchester and Liverpool – two Northern cultural capitals twinned in music.
The discussion explored how alive the two creative cities are and how much they each could overshadow one another. The insight of three culturally experienced figures took the audience on a journey along the East Lancs motorway, venturing the listeners to and from the two cities…
Richard Boon came to the panel having worked with Manchester’s The Buzzcocks in the 70s. Once creating his own label New Harmones, and working for London’s Rough Trade Records ad production manager and magazine editor, Boon brings an insightful knowledge to the discussion.
Dave Haslam DJ, journalist and musical cultural observer – brings a Mancunian focus to the group, having once held a resident DJ spot at Manchester’s Hacienda and having studied at The University of Manchester.
CP Lee veers the discussion towards Liverpool, having once played the likes of the original Cavern Club with 60s Manchester band Greasy Bear.
The Tales From Two Cities discussion opens to look back in history as to where a rivalry between the two locations may have originated. As busy industrial towns in the past, Liverpool and Manchester have always been in completion – weather that be in industry, business, art or music.
Lee explains however that any rivalry as musicians in the 60s was simply ‘light hearted-animosity’ with nothing but a few jokes between groups from alternating cities.
Haslam illuminates how he feels the cities’ unnecessary juxtaposition is ‘99% football related’.
Despite becoming a key cultural observer in Manchester Haslam tells, “There is nothing more embarrassing that Manchester-la-la-la chants. Because like Ian Brown said; It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.”
The panel begins to explore how links between the two cities has been lost in the mythology of Manchester and Liverpool’s rivalry. It’s noted that the cities often influenced each other, with the Hacienda being the inspiration for Liverpool’s Cream nightclub.
The group tells how James Bordan created Cream nightclub out of jealousy of the Hacienda. Cream was somewhat more successful, as Bordan learnt from the mistakes made at the Hacienda, such as issues dealing with drugs and the police
Haslam declares that “The marginalization of black and female musicians is something that both cities have in common.”
The DJ is also keen to note how Liverpool has hung onto a Mersey-beat sound, whilst Manchester seems to move on with the times…
Haslam explores how this difference may lie in drug culture. “Manchester has done a lot more drugs and it makes all the difference,” says Haslam.
Whilst Liverpool has concerned it’s drug culture with acid and spliffs to the sound track of live music, Manchester moved with a surge of Rhythm & Blues and ecstasy.
Despite their differences in culture, it seems Manchester and Liverpool stand in mythologized love, hate and success today – with both towns still offering a bustling music scene. Whilst Liverpool is home to the annual Liverpool Psych Fest, Manchester still arguably offers the North-West’s best dance music, with the likes of Warehouse Project. The two cities it seems will always remain united in a marvel of difference.
Dave Haslam’s latest book ‘Life After Dark – A History of British Nightclubs and Music Venues’ is available now
Words by Emily Schofield