Music Preview: Queer Noise

Article published: Thursday, January 21st 2010

Manchester is often thought of as the queer hub of the North; with it’s own ‘gay village’, the Queer Up North International Festival, and the annual Pride celebrations. Its gay music scene, however, is often below the mainstream radar. Queer Noise: The Hidden History of Manchester’s Gay Music Culture, a one-off celebration of gay music in Manchester, is seeking to change this.

On Saturday night, the Deaf Institute will host a night of DJs, live music, discussion and film. (hooker), the self-proclaimed “gloriously brash femme-punk outfit”, are playing live on the night. They are excited by the new musical possibilities the night offers, claiming that Manchester’s gay music scene has, “always tended to be one-dimensional and centered around the mainstream club and pop music prevalent on Canal Street. In actuality, the scene is far more diverse”.

Access appears to be the problem. “Much of the alternative music has been relegated to underground DIY nights”, (hooker) continue. Queer Noise may help to change that. (hooker) at least are hoping that, “the night succeeds in igniting some interesting discussions and in bringing gay music culture to Manchester’s mainstream.”

A documentary  film kicks off the night at 7pm. With Manchester’s musical history often epitomized by the Hacienda nightclub, it’s infamous gay night, Flesh, is a suitable subject for the screening, detailing one of Manchester most famous and successful queer nights during the 80s and 90s – dubbed ‘queer’ because of its overtly political edge. Its  strap line ‘It’s Queer Up North’ was adopted as the name for the city’s now annual queer arts festival.

The post-film discussions, led by Jon Savage, will consider the quality of Manchester’s gay music scene (which will be seen from the acts involved in the event); question why queer music is underexposed and debate bringing it to the mainstream. After the live performances, revellers can keep going into the early hours with a host of DJs from Manchester’s alternative queer nights, including Jayne Compton of Club Brenda, Philippa Jarman from Homo Electric and David Kendrick from Paradise Factory.

The night’s mix of film, informal debate, live music and djs is an ambitious set-up for a club-night type slot and venue. It will be interesting to see how the changing tone of the evening is managed – and if the event is a success in all areas. Certainly, a broad audience should be expected and with the line-up available online people may opt for particular portions of the evening. Some, undoubtedly, will enjoy the whole night.

Queer Noise is promising to  not only showcase Manchester’s historical queer music scene, but to also celebrate its current talent and place their output centre stage, shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the city’s much-celebrated music scene. Where it undoubtedly should be.

Jennie O’Hara

Queer Noise: The Hidden History of Manchester’s Gay Music Culture
Saturday 23rd January 7pm-3am at The Deaf Institute.
Tickets cost £6 and are available from Piccadilly Records or on the door. Proceeds go to the Manchester District Music Archive and the Lesbian and Gay Foundation

More: Culture, Manchester, Music


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