The legacy of Tony Wilson and Factory records, rests heavily on the hearts and minds of Manchester. As much a stick to beat us, as a torch to hold, the memory spurs the talent yet fortifies peoples perceptions. Mention Manchester music outside Lancashire boarders and a conversation undoubtedly touches Wilson, Factory and its club. What Wilson, Saville et al created will never fade with fashion, so it’s no wonder Salford’s low-slung legend has finally begun to capitalise on the folklore. It sounds triumphant, it should be, yet a bitter taste still hangs over the future. The taste of which is no stronger than in their very own backyard. The backlash is thick, fronted by FUC251 (no longer with us), it’s witty raspy satire etching dirty marks all over what should be a celebration of the future of Manchester’s music.
But onto tonight, the clubs second round of ‘high-profile’ events to kick off the proverbial cobwebs. First up are 1913, a well groomed stylised attack by a few ex-Cardinals, still hungry for the wagon. In parts they sound awesome, verses of new single ‘Atlantis’ clutch at 80s Newman, sparse and magnetic but it’s the chorus’s that do them a disservice, fumbling at faux majesty. It’s the well trodden path occupied by the Editors, one that 1913 need to sidestep rather quick.
A path that White Lies diligently avoid, occupying that tiny chasm of credible, savvy, commercial pop that is difficult to balance. Now a monstrous success, tonight, the second of two sold out shows at Fac251 presents itself as a practise outing for McVeigh and the boys. That’s not to say they’re not on top form, (they are) and to boot they’re more than dutifully aided by an ice-clear sound system. It’s more that the 450 capacity space isn’t able to elevate the gig into the ‘event’ it should be. We’re aware we’re on unsteady ground, as many would give a right-arm to catch such a band in an intimate venue, the intimacy often fuelling the event. However, White Lies are built for grand stages, light displays, swaying crowds....Fac251 is built to showcase burgeoning talent, providing little room for The ‘lies to flex. This aside, ‘Death’, is the unrivalled highlight, a beautifully constructed anthem, epic in stature, matched to McVeighs understated vocals.
Outshining the politics and bitching of the Factory dynasty was always the challenge, unfortunately tonight’s gig was just a subtitle to the main feature. Lets hope the main feature shifts from past glories to future talent, and for that, there could be no better base than Fac251.