Tony Wilson Experience

An expression of Manchester’s individuality
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Julie Burchill once memorably wrote towards the end of the Eighties that “we are all now Thatcher’s children”.


Well not in Manchester we weren’t, a rebellious, dissident city built over the last two centuries on newcomers and immigration. Politically not all that far from Liverpool’s Militant fringe under Thatcher, she was loathed by a Manchester that back then was sound-tracked by the purported gloom of Joy Division and The Smiths prior to it discovering the hedonism of The Hacienda and acid house.

Designed to craft a legacy for the future

By way of that illustration of Manchester’s political nonchalance and diffidence, “The Tony Wilson Experience” which took place at Urbis on 21st June this year was an expression of Manchester’s individuality and ways of doing thing differently. Set up as an ongoing tribute to the Factory Records founder, a gallery of famous talking heads including Steve Coogan, most of New Order, Shaun Ryder and Bez, Peter Saville, Grant Gee, Tim Burgess, John Cooper Clarke, Mark E Smith, Irvine Welsh, Paul Morley, Alan McGhee and many more all came in a union of creative talents all aimed at encouraging and stimulating the 200 or so young attendees with practical advice at how to follow and fulfil their artistic ambitions.

Designed to craft a legacy for the future and to encourage and support arts of all disciplines to survive in what is increasingly a highly corporatised and commoditised world, the event aimed to replicate the open-ness and access that Tony Wilson was famous for, with many of the speakers hanging around to chat to the guests and offer advice and in some cases, work projects. One part happening, one part speakeasy, it was some corner of Greenwich Village or Lennon’s Bed In For Peace had arrived in Manchester for a 24 hour stint.

A hugely innovative event which unavoidably centred around tales of Manchester and anecdotes of Tony, it was felt like it was to start making sense of the creative legacy left to Manchester by Factory, The Hacienda et al and what is to become of it now.

Entirely funded by Manchester City Council and sponsors including Adidas, Hard Rock Café, MEN Media, Urban Splash, and Astra, the event was brave in its inception, audacious in its execution and hopefully effective in its aims of bringing on the next creative generation.

Cos you see Burchill got it massively wrong for us. In Manchester in the 80’s we were far from being Thatcher’s children. The mere thought of it makes your blood boil. Really we were Tony and Rob’s children, and by extension of that New Order’s, Saville’s, Erasmus’ and The Hacienda’s children. And do you know what? We were a damn sight fucking finer for that.

On subsequent pages, Clashmusic.com interviews the likes of Peter Saville, Irvine Welsh, Rowetta, Peter Hook, and Jon Dasilva at the event.

Interview - Rowetta

Interview - Peter Hook

Interview - Peter Saville

Interview - Irvine Welsh

Attendees Reviews - Part One

Attendees Reviews - Part Two

Gallery of photos from the event

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