As FAC51 The Haçienda entered its first full year of operation, eight months on from the May opening, it closed for its first ever night on the first Monday of the year, marking an end to the seven day, open daily strategy. Yet the live scene at the club was flourishing as the vigour and dedication of booker Mike Pickering saw major gigs each week from many breakthrough and local acts, some set to become internationally famous throughout the decade.

Looking back it’s hard not to see a golden age of event gigs but frustratingly as ever, The Haçienda was ahead of its time booking artists before they became well known and though attracting decent crowds (numbers of 500 or so were common at most gigs), the spoils of the Haçienda’s effort was left to other Manc promoters to book the acts at The Poly or similar venues, six months down the line to crowds of over a thousand. With a policy of headlining Manchester bands announced early on in the year, this saw a remarkable run of James, Section 25, The Chameleons, the return of New Order and the Smiths making their debut at the club supporting 52nd Street in the first of three gigs at the club in 1983 on their rose to prominence as NME darlings and one of the year’s biggest acts. 

On their their third appearance in November 1983, with “This Charming Man” high in the charts, they performed on Top Of The Pops earlier in day before jumping the train back north for a flower strewn, sold out gig that has since passed into history as one of their best ever. Notably the two later Smiths gigs of the year and the two New Order gigs were the only gigs to sell out at The Hacienda in its opening 18 months. 

A mixture of older legends and then up and coming chart acts on the live circuit also performed at FAC51 including John Cale, Jah Wobble, The Undertones, The Fall twice in the year, Fun Boy 3, Divine, The Eurythmics and OMD who first released “Electricity” with Factory before signing to Virgin and returned with a hugely impressive lighting rig. Other memorable moments included the electricity going off during the Undertones “Teenage Kicks” and Feargal Sharkey conducting a singalong with the crowd, the Cocteau Twins Liz Frazer crying at soundcheck at the sound system, Nic Cave punching a pint glass thrown at the stage into a million shattered pieces and a certain horde called Happy Mondays becoming victorious at a rigged battle of the bands gig. We’ll be hearing from that lot later.

As The Haçienda began its much celebrated Birthday Party tradition with the first some 364 days later on Friday 20th December, not to be confused with Nic Cave’s The Birthday Party who had also returned for their second gig at the club in February, The Haçienda also turned its Ben Kelly designed interior into a theatre in with “Tales From The Newgate Calendar” in May. 

Yet other, more substantial stylistic changes were afoot with some Haçienda management, Wilson, Gretton and Pickering in particular, became worried that the club was turning out far away from their vision of a New York style discotheque and dance venue. With this in mindy, they looked to shake up the DJing at the club, bringing in Greg Wilson, John Tracy and Andrew as residents alongside Hewan Clarke from August, a move that was to define later years at the club and put The Haçienda right at the forefront of developing DJ culture.

Yet if the sound system was perceived as a problem, more damaging was the chronic mismanagement of the club with consistent losses of around 10 grand a week, those losses being stemmed by Factory and New Order. Problems with the opening, the debts and deal to the brewery, endemic theft and a laissez faire, anything goes attitude to all aspects of club running made The Haçienda a money pit for the partners and management, despite it achieving their artistic ambitions for the venue.  

As the year came to a close, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, capped their most successful year playing at the club (Sat 19th November). Gretton in his sense of largesse and generosity, treating visiting bands how he wished to be treated, decided that the club had to compete with the hospitality of the New York club Paradise Garage and decked out not only backstage with an array of fruit and flowers but front of house as well.  The following Thursday The Smiths appearance was to pass into history and as its second Christmas passed over FAC51, the year was only marred by the departure of Howard “Ginger” Jones as general manager, having confessed to Gretton he was at a loss as how to turn round the financial problems of the club.

Thurs 3rd – Section 25 & Swallow Tongues

Fri 4th – 52nd Street; The Smiths

Thurs 10th – Fad Gadget

Fri 11th – JoBoxers

Weds 16th – Divine

Fri 18th – Animal Nightlife

Weds 23rd – Pigbag & Laurel and Hardy

Thurs 24th – The Birthday Party

Thurs 3rd – The Eurythmics

Weds 9th – The Pale Fountains

Thurs 10th – John Cale

Tues 15th – Spear of Destiny

Weds 30th – The Undertones

Thurs 31st – Special Party Night

Weds 4th – Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul

Thurs 5th – Vicious Pink Phenomena

Weds 11th – The Box

Thurs 12th – Prince Charles & the City Beat Band

Weds 18th – Secret Seven

Fri 20th – ‘First Year Anniversary Party.’

Sat 21st – ‘Surprise Saturday’

Tues 24th – ‘Tales From the Newgate Calendar’ (The Hacienda becomes a theatre with a play also performed on the following night and towards the start of June 1983)

Weds 25th – ‘Tales From the Newgate Calendar’

Thurs 26th – Robert Palmer

‘Monday Night is now funk night with Hewan Clarke and Mike Shaft’.

Weds 1st – ‘Tales From the Newgate Calendar’

Thurs 2nd – The Bat Cave with Alien Sex Fiend

Mon 6th – ‘Tales From the Newgate Calendar’

Weds 8th – Shriekback; Howard Devoto

Thurs 9th – Hey Elastica!

Thurs 16th – Fun Boy Three

Fri 17th – Hunters & Collectors

Weds 22nd – Curtis Mayfield

Thurs 23rd – Set The Tone

Fri 24th June – ‘Soul Fan Watch This Space’

Weds 19th – A Certain Ratio; Quando Quango

Weds 6th – The Smiths

Fri 8th – Funk Night : Central Line with Hewan Clarke & Colin Curtis

Tues 12th – Defunkt

Weds 13th – The Alarm

Thurs 14th – Howard Devoto; The Wake

Sun 17th – ‘Newgate 2’ – A new theatrical play returns to The Hacienda

Weds 20th – New Order

Fri 22nd – Jah Wobble

Weds 27th – The Fall

Fri 5th – Lydia Lunch

Thurs 11th – Cabaret Voltaire

Fri 12th – Salts & Richard’s 21st Extravaganza with The Peech Boys

Sun 14th – ‘Sunday Bodega’ with Andrew Berry

A Spanish themed hippie night and excursion into 60’s pop.

Weds 17th – Einsturzende Neubauten

Fri 19th – ‘Funk Night’ with DJ Greg Wilson

‘Fridays Go Truly Transatlantic

Sat 20th – Club Night with DJ’s John Tracey & Greg Wilson

Thurs 25th – King with DJ Gary Crowley

Sun 28th – ‘Funk All-Dayer’ (DJ’s Mike Shaft, Colin Curtis, Greg Wilson, Jonathan, Clement Anderson, Paul Dixon, Carlos)

Tues 30th – The End : A No Funk night with DJ John Tracey

Thurs 1st – ‘Club Night’ with DJ Hewan Clarke

Fri 2nd – ‘Funk Night’ with DJ’s Greg Wilson & Neutriment

Tues 6th – The End: A No Funk Night with DJ John Tracey

Weds 7th – Violent Femmes

Fri 9th – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Weds 14th – Brilliant

Tues 20th – ‘The End’ (John Tracey)

Thurs 22nd – Sisters of Mercy

Sun 25th – Marc Berry

Fri 7thElvis Costello (Cancelled)

Sun 19thStaff outing to Blackpool

Weds 12thThe Respond Package

Thurs 13th – John Foxx

Weds 19thAlan Vega (ex Suicide)

Fri 28th – Funk Night with DJ Greg Wilson and live guests Whodini & Run DMC

Weds 2nd – Test Department

Sat 5th – Halloween Party

Sun 6th – ‘Sheer Image’

Thurs 17th – Icicle Works

Sat 19th – Frankie Goes to Hollywood (Rob Gretton decides to decorate the whole club and backstage area with flowers)

Weds 23rd – Divine

Thurs 24th – The Smiths; James

Weds 30th – The Virgin Prunes

Thurs 1st – China Crisis

Weds 7th – The Gun Club

Thurs 8th – Cocteau Twins (one of the band’s first gigs)

Friday 9th – Camden Palace Extravaganza (an awayday trip to London where acts Marcel King, Quando Quango and 52 Street performed live supported by DJ Greg Wilson)

Weds 14th – Killing Joke

Thurs 15th – Spear of Destiny

Fri 16th – The Fall

Tues 20th – ‘The End’ – “a party time for all hip, swinging dudes”

Fri 23rd – Alan Wise party

Sat 24th – Christmas Eve Party

Weds 28th – Ikon Video Night / Durutti Column

Thurs 29th – Factory bands night with Durutti Column (unconfirmed)

Fri 30th – ‘Ginger’s Goodbye Party.’ (Howard Jones leaves as manager)