Picking up from where we left off last time in my weekend escape to the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel in Manchester (not read part one yet? Itâ€™s here!), in part two Iâ€™m talking all about my experience on a mystery Manchester music tour.
The Radisson hotel kindly offered Clare and I the chance to go on a music tour on the second day of our stay in Manchester, and we both confessed to each other that, although weâ€™re music bloggers, neither of us had ever been on any music tour. We didnâ€™t know what to expect - all we were told was to meet a Craig at 10am at the Dry Bar onÂ Oldham Street, where we would be treated to a couple of hours indulging in the Smiths nostalgia that surrounds Manchester.
Iâ€™ve never considered myself a fan of The Smiths or Morrissey, so I was a little worried that the tour might be lost on me, but being a huge music and history geek, trips out donâ€™t get much better than this. Manchester has such a rich music history, and to understand how all the places we visited tied some of its most famous musicians together was just a dream of an experience.
Established in 2005 by Inspiral Carpets drummer Craig Gill, Manchester Music Tours gives music mavens the opportunity to explore the cityâ€™s history in relation toÂ some of its most iconic artists and bands, such as Joy Division, Oasis and The Stone Roses. On the Morrissey/The Smiths tour, we visited sights such as Strangeways prison (that inspired the album Strangeways, Here We Come), the iconic Salford Ladsâ€™ Club on the corner of the original Coronation Street, and the house that Morrissey grew up in.
Iâ€™ve compiled a list of things I learnt on the tour:
1. I need to watch that Strangeways prison doc, ASAP - whilst visiting Strangeways prison, Craig mentioned the riots that took place there on April 1, 1990. Having never learnt about them, Clare urged me to watch the documentary all about the prison and the infamous riots. Itâ€™s on my must-watch list!
2. I was in good company at Salford Ladsâ€™ Club - did anyone else here know that Cara Delevingne did a shoot at the ladsâ€™ club recently? Nope, nor did I, until I saw her pretty little face on a notice board inside the club. Chrissie Hynde has also visited. Needless to say, I fangirled to the max.
3. There exists an original Coronation Street - I also had no idea that the television version of Coronation Street was modelled on a street of the same name in Salford. Salford Ladsâ€™ Club is at the very end of the street, and is one of the reasons why Morrissey chose for the album cover to be photographed there - to have the Salford Ladsâ€™ Club sign and the Coronation Street sign in one photo was a photo opportunity not to be missed for Moz.
4. Itâ€™s time to slow down - Ever heard of Vinyl Valley on Oldham Street?Â I hadnâ€™t either. Itâ€™s so calledÂ because there are around 30 record shops in its quarter-square mile vicinity. Sadly, I confess to have never seen some intriguing little slabs slotted into the pavementÂ outside the Dry Bar, and itâ€™s most likely because I was either too busy on the phone, or chatting, or trying to navigate my way around the city. Maybe if I hadnâ€™t been doing any of those things, I wouldâ€™ve stopped to look a little closer at those slabs that make up Vinyl Valley.
5. Manchester is a beautiful, beautiful place - …and I think I needed to be reminded of it. Â Manchester was once described as “the engine room for British music”, and itâ€™s aÂ worthy strapline for a city so steeped in music history. Thank you to Craig at Manchester Music Tours for helping to remind me how incredible Manchester is.
If youâ€™re ever in need of a pick-me-up in music form, or if youâ€™re a fangirl to Joy Division, The Smiths, Oasis or The Stone Roses, I canâ€™t recommend Craigâ€™s music tours enough. Take one - itâ€™ll change your perception on music and Manchester for the far, far better.