Peter Hook on Hacienda Classical: 'We're celebrating the tunes from the original club which came to shape dance music'

Peter Hook on Hacienda Classical: 'We're celebrating the tunes from the original club which came to shape dance music'

credit: Conor Griffiths

Hacienda Classical was meant to be a one-off nostalgia trip but Peter Hook and Graeme Park are delighted that a new generation of fans are getting into the 90s vibe

It's been 21 years since Manchester superclub the Hacienda closed down and 16 since it was demolished. Yet the indomitable spirit of Britain's most renowned clubbing institution of the late 1980s and early 90s lives on, with former Hacienda DJs Graeme Park and Mike Pickering continuing to play their own DJ sets.

'The few older heads who came along to our clubs had started to moan that we didn't play the classics any more,' says Park, who was born in Aberdeen, raised in Kirkcaldy and now lectures in Creative Media Technology at Wrexham Glyndwr University. 'That's not what clubbing's about: it's about youth and looking forward. But we realised it's because of these people that we're doing what we're doing in the first place. If you're over 40 with kids and a sensible job it can be a military operation to get out clubbing, and you just want to hear the music you love again.'

Park was discussing this with Pickering (one-time driving force behind M People) and Peter Hook (former New Order bassist and co-owner of the Hacienda) and remembers Hook setting the wheels in motion. After meeting with conductor and arranger Tim Crooks of the Manchester Camerata orchestra, they staged the first Hacienda Classical show in early 2016 at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. It was planned as a one-off until the tickets sold out in five minutes. A second show the following week did the same, and then the Royal Albert Hall in London got in touch.

'At the outset I wasn't sure it would work, but reactions have been amazing,' says Hook. 'In many ways this show has given the Hacienda a new lease of life. People have never actually heard these songs performed fully live, as most of them were just records made on cheap synthesisers and played by DJs. The show itself is a continuous DJ set as well as the orchestral performance. In many ways it replicates the original vibe which made the Hacienda so special, and captures the music's enduring quality.'

Peter Hook on Hacienda Classical: 'We're celebrating the tunes from the original club which came to shape dance music'

credit: Mark L Hill

As the show's executive producer, Hook also plays live bass on many songs, while any time he isn't on stage is spent working at the sound desk, checking on the 170-piece orchestra. After the success of the original run, the trio realised they had something which deserved to continue. Having scaled up to 20 dates in 2017, they've upgraded further for this year's arena concerts. 'I'd say about 80% of the show is new for this year, with new vocalists and tracks from the 1970s and 2000s, as well as the 80s and 90s,' says Park. 'I've always said that if we're going to continue doing this, we have to keep pushing the boundaries.'

Park loves hearing Hook play old New Order basslines, although the man himself favours the new orchestral arrangements of classic house tracks like 'Strings of Life' and 'LFO'. 'We're celebrating the tunes from the original club which came to shape dance music,' says Hook, 'but many of these songs are timeless to me and haven't aged with the many young people we have coming to the shows either.'

'The first time we did this in Manchester, we foolishly assumed people would sit down and listen because it was a classical concert,' remembers Park. 'But they didn't. Everyone was so excited to hear the tunes they grew up with or fell in love to: it was like a wall of sound. The atmosphere is electric every single time.'

Hacienda Classical, Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh, Sat 18 Aug.

Hacienda Classical

DJs Graeme Park and Mike Pickering perform alongside the Manchester Camerata orchestra recreating old school house, club and rave anthems on an epic scale.

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