For what seems like the first time in Ages me and the Bean counter went to Manchester and stayed overnight. “The occasion?” I hear you ask, A concert by Rush to celebrate 30 years together and what a concert it was. The best light show I have ever seen in an indoor arena. As for the music well it was everything that rock n roll stands for. Self indulgent solo’s, long complicated tracks and deafening noise and a blistering 3 hour set. The tour was to publicise Rush’s new album “Snakes and Arrows”. While the new material is excellent the loudest applause was of course for the old stuff such as “Passage to Bangkok”, “Spirit of Radio”, “Tom Sawyer” etc. To be fair it was not about sex, drugs and rock n roll. If you want that kind of stuff go and see ACDC or The Who.
The only downside to the evening was the venue. Thrombosis inducing seats, no room to stretch or carry out any of the exercises the airlines advise on long haul flights. You can no longer stand at seated arenas for fear of the wrath of the Nazi Elf n Safety marshals threatening you with ejection if you don’t sit down again and then there is the design of the building. The main corridor is a circular affair with the toilets and food stalls and merchandising stands spread out along its length. This means that if there are queues at any of the stands you can’t get past to walk around with any ease. Added to this the marshals will not let anyone leave the building even to obtain fresh air and it was stiflingly hot in there. If you do you will not be allowed back in again. It was my third time at the MEN and it will be my last.
Beforehand we had checked into our hotel, OK for an evening but I would not stay there for more than one night. We went to the local Wetherspoons in Piccadilly plaza for a meal and then on to one or two drinking holes, the later being similar to the Titty Twister from Dusk till Dawn. We left there in a hurry as most of the occupants seemed like extras form the Hills Have Eyes and I felt a little intimidated. (Read scared shitless) Afterwards we took a long stroll back to the plaza, (long because I managed to get the pair of us lost) and had a drink into the early hours of the morning before retiring back to the barracks, sorry I mean hotel.
Manchester has changed an awful lot since I was there last and it now seems so cosmopolitan. There are plenty of places you can drink out of doors on the pavements and just watch the world go by and a large amount of the world did go by. More nationalities than I could name, pretty young things with long legs and killer heels, groups of very friendly guys holding hands (read into that what you will) buskers, tramps, vagrants, tourists with suitcases and an assortment of the young and not so young heading into the night either home if they had one or to somewhere more exotic. Whatever you might say it was more akin to sitting on the Ramblas in Barcelona than the Manchester I remember of years ago. Maybe the “Café culture” will spread throughout the rest of the UK but I doubt it will for many years if at all but Manchester (Madchester as it’s affectionately known as) is worth a brief visit any time in my book at least.
Morning came and we set off to do some shopping before heading home. BC went off in search of some weapons grade stilettos, (just what is the attraction to shoes, handbags and shiny things for women?) and I pottered about window shopping and looking at the baby PS3 and fingering my credit card with intent. In the end I resisted and BC re-appeared with just a small bag of “bits and bobs”. Apart from the Arena and the hotel I will remember with affection my 24 hours in Madchester!