Some things just work: Gravy and chips, Ant and Dec, Pep Guardiola in that grey cardigan and tonight what worked perfectly was the combination of Haçienda classics and a 70-piece classical orchestra at Castlefield Bowl.

And what a venue for such an event, on a perfect summer evening in Manchester, the sun is out, beer is flowing (well actually there’s now a prosecco and gin bar as well as the standard, we’re posher now apparently) and the crowd is more than ready for this.

The event is opened by Herbie Saccani, effortlessly warming up the crowd with a set of bangers that immediately draw you to the dancefloor instead of perching on the grass verge and protecting the four Desperadoes you’ve just bought to save going back to the bar.

When Peter Hook is then welcomed on stage for his DJ set the crowd gives him a classic Manchester welcome, this legend needs no introduction and he needs no encouragement from us.

“Go on lad.. Go on my son!” shouts the guy behind me, who’s probably watched Human Traffic a few too many times, but we are all united in respect for this Manc lad and dance as one.

(IMAGE CREDIT: Joel Goodman)

A real highlight of the night comes from Inner City, playing their first show in Manchester in 25 years. Their vocalist Shanna Jackson absolutely dominates the stage, striding around like an absolute queen in a pink neon, lycra two-piece that makes me feel totally under dressed.

There’s not a song in their set that doesn’t get a roar from the audience but when they play the opening to ‘Good Life’ it’s like the atmosphere just changes. We all know this.

(IMAGE CREDIT: Joel Goodman)

A group of middle aged women dressed up to the nines scream ’yaaassssss!’ in union almost drowning out the band. This was our tune back in the day. Everyone who was sat down is now up and it is just getting started.

Mark XTC is next with a cool mix of Haçienda classics that just felt like tune after tune – I couldn’t even tell you what he played here. There’s no need for scribbling down a set list when I could be dancing. All I need to say is that this guy knows how to please a crowd and knows the hits that filled a club on Whitworth Street every weekend.

It was mint, let’s leave it there.

The tension is building and yet is already so high that the whole crowd is smiling from ear to ear and belting out lyrics so that the whole of Manchester can hear the sound of their youth.

(IMAGE CREDIT: Joel Goodman)

No one is under 30 it seems, and that brings with it a maturity that says I’m not here to get wasted and spend all of Sunday in the pit of despair, dying of a hangover because we just can’t handle six beers like we used to. We’re here to enjoy it, to re-live the good old days, just without the sweaty walls and cigarette burns.

Just as the sun disappears behind the stage the 70-piece Manchester Camerata orchestra take their seats to a round of applause from the crowd. Just shouting ‘woo’ isn’t enough of a way to show this talented ensemble just how much respect we have for their skills. We are not worthy.

The first note spilling from the violin’s bow combined with the ground-shaking bass drum pouring through the speakers is almost euphoric and for a moment we all just watch as strings, horns, flutes and DJ’s effortlessly combine to create a sound that’s food for the soul.

But there’s no standing still or time for wishing you’d made more effort to learn an instrument when you were 12, when Rhythm Is A Dancer comes on. Not a single person isn’t belting out this banger, every hand is in the air and when there’s no vocals there’s the orchestra flawlessly filling the basin with sweet, sweet music and the crowd soaking up every note.

Then if that wasn’t enough of a classic we hear the words: “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life” bellow through the speakers and we are mad for it! The need to dance to every song is constant now, no need for drinks, hold in that much-needed wee and enjoy the moment.

Just when you think you’re going to leave to beat the traffic, Ultra Nate’s You’re Free comes on and everyone just loses it.

I’m screaming “YOU’VE GOT TO LIVE YOUR LIIIIFE” in my fiancé’s face, a man in a bucket hat is cutting shapes on the grass verge, a security guard is singing every word and absolutely loving it.

We are free to do what we want to do. This is pure joy. And this is what the Haçienda was.

Top night.

Original article by Christina Blaney for Manchester Evening News.

Full image gallery HERE.