A stunning Grade II listed Wesleyan chapel hidden in Manchester’s city centre — and steeped in history — is the perfect venue for tonight’s equally legendary Haçienda club night hosted by FAC 51.
DJ Mag is in no doubt of the cultural impact of The Haçienda as we arrive to a packed house at Manchester’s Albert Hall. Since opening in 2013, The Albert Hall has been the talk of the town, and it’s not hard to see why. While The Warehouse Project relies on a disused car park under the city’s main train station, The Albert Hall is an entirely different proposition: a disused chapel already able to handle large bands and meticulously programmed DJ nights. The venue’s general manager reckons “we haven’t seen anything yet”, revealing plans to open a restaurant downstairs, where Brannigans used to be, alongside a new outdoor terrace in the near future.
Arriving at the venue at 11pm sharp, the main room is under the spell of Manchester stalwart and former Haç resident Mike Pickering. Balancing classic Haç tracks alongside more modern bangers, Pickering really ramps up the excitement before he steps aside for the first co-headliner, the legendary Danny Tenaglia. Tenaglia obviously needs no introduction round these parts. He kicks off his set with Joe Smooth’s ‘Promised Land’ before delving deep into his house and techno repertoire for reinforcements from likes of Carl Cox and Kevin Saunderson.
Clearly still at the top of his game, he’s buoyed by a rapturous crowd of smiling faces going absolutely nuts. The atmosphere more than lives up to the legendary hype, as everyone DJ Mag meets is unfalteringly polite, and friendly, as we traverse the sprawling Grade II listed chapel.
Tonight’s crowd is a heady mixture of Haç heads, old enough to be your grandad, and young, inquisitive ravers, looking to experience some of that famed Haç magic. Tenaglia more than delivers keeping the diverse crowd on their toes with classics such as Alison Limericks’ ‘Where The Love Is’ and The Jackson’s ‘Can You Feel It’.
But for every hands-in-the-air moment, Tenaglia counters it with muscular, sculptured cuts of house and techno including Green Velvet’s ‘Acid Trax 2011’ and Frankie Knuckles’ remix of ‘The Pressure’. The crowd plays their part too, soaking up every last vibration from the pulverizing soundsystem, alongside 3D projections beamed onto the Albert Hall’s stunning organ, that sits just behind Tenaglia like a symbol of the city’s industrial past.
Proof, then, that Tenaglia can still command a room with the same prowess that saw the New Yorker rise to the top of the game with productions like ‘Music Is The Answer’ and ‘Bottom Heavy’, as well as remixes for the likes of Depeche Mode, Murk, The Orb and Blondie. But FAC 51 saves the best until last with Francois K, who proves that age is just a number.
The 61-year-old delivers a mesmerising set that features classic cuts of house and techno from the scene’s most important innovators — both past and present — including Frankie Knuckles’ ‘Your Love’, Todd Terry & Sound Design’s ‘Bounce To The Beat’, and Filthy Rich’s ‘Rendezvous’. Proving once again, some 32 years since it first opened its fabled doors, that the spirit of the Haçienda still lives on in Manchester to this day.