When MP Andy Burnham announced his bid to become Labour’s Manchester mayoral candidate, his opinion on the city’s music scene was curiously downbeat. “The Manchester of my youth was the most vibrant place when it came to music. We’ve maybe lost a little bit of that,” he told the Guardian.
It is a view that many share – not just out-of-touch fortysomething politicians. From the film 24 Hour Party People to the recent Stone Roses’ stadium gigs in the city, it can feel, certainly from a distance, that Manchester is now permanently mired in Madchester nostalgia.
It does not help that few of the stories emanating from modern Manchester are of wild sub-cultural creativity. Instead, nationally, the city is perceived through regeneration projects such as Spinningfields – a kind of toy-town Canary Wharf – or the race among the city’s restaurants to bag a Michelin star – an example of the kind of establishment validation Manchester once scorned.
Workers enjoying the sunshine in the Spinningfields business quarter.