As the second full year of FAC 51’s Whitworth Street tenure began, the management reshuffle saw Ginger’s departure and the commencement of what became known as “the committee years” as Mike Pickering handled booking and nights, Ellie Gray took care of PR and Penny Henry looked after the staff and special events. With reference to The Hacienda’s time honoured socialistic principles, all changes were put to a staff vote such as raising bar and door prices and Tony Wilson was later to refer to the period with a salutary epithet, “committees achieve nothing”.
Despite continuing levels of artistic creativity and musical diversity, The Haçienda remained in the doldrums financially. No longer the newest club in town and still beset by problems with the overspend and brewery deal related to the opening, Penny Henry remembers a regular activity of dodging the bailiffs being. Nonetheless The Haçienda continued to break new and upcoming artists, local, national and in the case of one soon to be international megastar, global. More of her later.
For the array of live acts performing at the club in ’84, the year marked a move away from the more post punk elements of the early Eighties as the major bands of the decade and the pre C86 generation began to break through alongside the acts on the touring circuit and the Hac’s innovative recruitment of legendary musical mavericks for special concerts. Reading the list back now, it seems unfathomable that the nights failed to sell out but such are the pitfalls for trailblazers. In short, back in ‘84 you could have seen Burning Spear, ACR (twice), Prefab Sprout (twice), The Cramps (twice – one sell out), Dead Or Alive (twice), Thomas Dolby, Spear Of Destiny (top of the 84 leaderboard with three separate appearances), Julian Cope, Orange Juice (twice), Grandmaster Flash, another Nic Cave visit, this time with the Cavemen, Lloyd Cole And The Commotions (twice), The Fall, The Go Betweens, Pete Shelley, Johnny Thunders, The Cult, Afrika Bambaata, Bronski Beat, New Model Army, The Cult, Lee Perry & The Upsetters and The Durutti Column with a full orchestra.
Yet beyond that majestic mix of live acts, the headline grabbing booking of The Haçienda’s 1984 had to be the debut performance of Madonna for the first time outside New York. More by luck than judgement as is often the case, Channel 4’s The Tube were looking to do an outside broadcast and Anthony H blagged producer Malcolm Gerrie into doing it at The Hacienda. Probably a less legendary event for those who were actually at the club in the late afternoon / early evening than for those who tuned in, nevertheless the broadcast and performances have passed into Manchester music myth. Some snippets. Madge, unknown outside the New York club scene at the time was booked as a favour to her then boyfriend Danceteria DJ Mark Kamins who was a friend and inspiration to the club and duly levered into the show’s running order. Her set was meant to only consist of “Holiday” but upon demanding two songs, The Jazz Defektors got bumped from their slot, something they have complained about for years, especially since they were “better dancers than her”. Rob Gretton, with a sharp eye for talented young ladies, offered her fifty quid to perform at the club that night and received a curt “fuck off” for his troubles.
Many years later Tony W smoothly found himself opposite the aforementioned Ms Ciccone at dinner and having summoned up immense nerve reminded her of her debut Hacienda gig. She coldly dismissed him, as notably she had Rob, claiming “my memory appears to have wiped that”. Still thankfully she was never to amount to much, it was all downhill for her after that Hacienda appearance, and she was never to reach the same heights again.
One of the other Tube live bands that evening was “The Factory All-Stars” which brought together Bernard Sumner, Donald Johnson, Vini Reilly and other such record company cohorts. They were to return to the club for the second birthday party, taking place May 21st 1984 two years precisely to the day since the club flung open its doors.
Meanwhile during the year, the clubbing revolution which was to take hold later in the decade was taking shape. The Visits of New York breakdance artist Whodini with sets of dancers to John Tracey’s No Funk night in March was a harbinger for the growing rap and electro scene. Although Greg Wilson had retired from DJing at the start of 84 to concentrate on managing hip hop group Broken Glass, the sounds took an increasing firm hold of the FAC51 floor throughout the year and culminated in the launch of Mike Pickering’s celebrated and long running “Nude” Friday night residency on October 19th 1984. With a soundtrack of rap, soul, Motown, Salsa, electro, early hip hop and other such flavours, Nude was to set the bar for the burgeoning scene and attracted a new, more working class crowd to the club. No longer merely the preserve of Face reading fashion victims, Nude brought scallies, perry boys and commoners into the club along with a more black music crowd. Both Mike Pickering and Rob Gretton were delighted at this, the extension of the Hacienda’s audience and Friday’s soon became a major and highly successful night, although some of the staff and Factory Records devotees turned their noses up at what they termed as “déclassé” elements entering the club.
So onto The Haçienda’s second Christmas. John Tracey’s Tuesday “The End” had been the most successful night prior to Nude but lost its crowd when it was cancelled for a week to make way for an Elvis Costello gig, a salient lesson learnt by the club who never bumped again a successful club night for an artist. Yet December’s main nights were pared off between Nude and a two part gig by The Jazz Defektors, making up for their Tube mishap at the start of the year whilst future Haçienda promoter Paul Cons made his debut at the club as a model at charity fashion show “Style In Our Time” earlier that month.
So while financially still under the cosh, all in all a fairly good year for FAC51 as the first signs of the club’s future direction appeared within The Haçienda. The club had taken the plunge, not drowned yet and thanks to the largesse and laissez faire financial attitudes of Factory Records and Gainwest, was more than treading water, even if the flood of losses was far from being stemmed.