“We made history, not money,” reads Peter Hook’s T-shirt, referring to how the bassist’s bands, Joy Division and New Order, changed the course of music, but saw the proceeds disappear into FAC251 The Hacienda. Hook’s recent hilarious memoirs revealed how the Factory label’s world-famous “Madchester” establishment was also a Spinal Tap-type shambles, where “business meetings” became drunken chats about the footie. But with Factory long since bankrupt, Hook seems on a mission to restore the legacy and spirit of Tony Wilson’s seminal label.Hook and partners’ new club – in the building of Factory’s last HQ – has been designed by Hacienda architect Ben Kelly. It features familiar greys and yellows, but in size and atmosphere it seems closer to the original Factory club. New Mancunian band Delphic play over the dancefloor, unsigned bands are booked to play, and the manifesto seems to be one of respecting the past while looking to the future.
The hot-ticket opening finds Hook debuting Freebass, his new project with Stone Roses bassist Mani, whose entwining basslines mix with poetry from Howard Marks. Lumps then fill throats as Hook’s specially formed band the Light deliver a 90-minute look through his back pages, with the unreleased punky Joy Division song Pictures of the Night nestling alongside New Order, Monaco and Joy Division hits. Happy Mondays backing singer Rowetta’s astonishing, almost operatic take on Atmosphere is a commercial blockbuster-in-waiting, in the manner of Leona Lewis’s version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
FAC251 is certainly starting with a bang, though one aspect of the Factory spirit – or spirits – may prove more troublesome. Wilson’s portrait smiles from the back wall, and his mischievous grin surely widens as the fire alarm goes off.