Back in the rave heydays of the early 90s, “Madchester” was religious ground for acid house, and at its centre stood its temple, The Haçienda. The infamous nightclub was set to rest almost a decade ago, its spirit living on in the now middle-aged regulars who had made the 1988 and 1989 summers the thing of clubbing legends and police nightmares. Most likely well adjusted now to more sedate weekend excursions, the Madchester generation are offered the chance to recapture the fire of their youth as Hacienda Classical brings a sophisticated reimagining of the hits of the time to the Rainbow Arena Birmingham.
Equipped with an array of hits from the club’s hedonistic peak, Hacienda Classical presents the soundtrack to the acid house revolution with a surprising twist - the accompaniment of a full orchestra. Featuring a chaotic combination of Hacienda figureheads, including New Order’s Peter Hook and Bez and Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays, the first leg of the tour saw original DJs Graeme Park and Mike Pickering join forces with Manchester Camerata at Bridgewater Hall, in a euphoric mess of confused delirium as Strings of Life, Ride on Time and other iconic anthems took on a new form to channel the same old party spirit.
Programmed beats and live orchestral music might make an unexpected pairing, but the fusion of party bangers and contemporary classical instrumentation gives the audience license to indulge in hedonistic nostalgia whilst telling the kids that they’re off to bathe in a more refined cultural experience. Sitting somewhere in the middle, the Hacienda Classical offers a rare opportunity for parents to remind themselves that though it’s now the kids who’re out disturbing the midnight lull on a Friday night, mum and dad used to do it better.
Some will say that the golden years are long gone. On the 31st of July, Birmingham party veterans have the chance to roll back time and prove that they’ve actually just been resting.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Photos courtesy of Hacienda Classical