The Manchester International Festival kicked off with a melodic bang last Thursday with New Order's intimate show next door to our office at the Old Granada Studios. I was fortunate enough to get tickets to the gig, entitled 'So it Goes' - a reference to Tony Wilson's TV show of the same name - where Joy Division made their first appearance, in the same studio, in 1978.
Almost 40 years later, and Bernard Sumner and the band were on top form. Accompanied by a 'synth orchestra' of students from the Royal Northern College of Music, conducted by Joe Duddell, they where encapsulated behind the stage in a louvered grid which moved to reveal and conceal the performers throughout the show, illuminated by the mesmerising light visuals of artist Liam Gillick.
We found ourselves in the company of a nostalgic audience, with a few famous Manchester faces thrown in (Bez from the Happy Mondays?!), all in appreciation of the set which spanned songs from throughout the band's career, some well known, some more obscure, but sadly missing Blue Monday!
Fortunately, Blue Monday cravings were fulfilled on Saturday night in the free-for-all MIF Festival Square tent in Albert Square (comprised of structures designed Paloma Gormley of Practice Architecture and Nicolas Henninger from the Office for Crafted Architecture,) where former Haçienda DJ Dave Haslam treated a buzzing and eclectic crowd - sheltering from the drizzle but not letting their spirits be dampened - to a set of Haçienda Classics, followed by the Charlatan's Tim Burgess who dropped in a few Mancunian sing-alongs to end a top night.
An impressive and thoroughly enjoyable start to MIF17... bring on the next two weeks! You can find out more about the programme and book tickets here.