Blessings undisguised…brief reprise part 1
A good friend of mine, who some would describe as ‘workshy’, wrote a lovely article a while ago about the importance of time. He described how time is more valuable than money and after undergoing a shit episode a couple of years back with the anti-union bullies at my former place of work, I vowed to take his advice on board. After all – if we die tomorrow, it is better to have spent our time well, than spent what money we don’t have badly.
I ignored the fact he is now working for the first time in his life and only just about has the odd ‘window’ to go for an eight item brekka at the Black Lion every day, before mooching about town on his way into ‘work’. This is irrelevant – it is hardly Roger Daltrey singing about dying before he gets old, when he is old.
With this in mind, I took advantage of the weather earlier this week to walk everywhere and do stuff for nowt, as we all like to do. Our city, as mentioned way-back-when in the original Blessings Undisguised series, hosts many fantastic cultural activities that don’t cost you a penny. They cost your time – and what better way to spend it?
I had a long stroll down Oxford Road and called in on my good friend who wrote the said article that helped change my outlook on life. He was working, which sort of defeats the message. The Daltrey fucker. But by ‘work’, I mean ‘on the internet while sat in his office drinking brews’. He has a sign on the door that says he is now a doctor. Not a real one, an Adam Brown one.
We had a brew and a chat. He handed me what he calls ‘a thesis’. It is more like a gigantic book. With no pictures. It discusses football fan culture and particularly centres on the reaction of Manchester United fans to the Glazer takeover. It compares this to City fans’ welcoming acceptance of their cultural rape. We will always be beautifully different to them and reflect Manchester in a way they could never even imagine. I will read it when it inevitably pisses down later in the week. Serious…
After the brief sojourn in the sweltering environs of his office, I set off to the Contact Theatre to view Ian Hilton’s current exhibition, which features various ace pictures of Rock and Roll musicians. Some would describe them as ‘legends’, but that is a word banded about and attached to every Dick, Dick and Dicker these days, so I won’t call them that.
The pictures feature The Stone Roses, The Smiths, Happy Mondays, Guns ‘n Roses, Iggy Pop, Nirvana and more.
The Stone Roses ones are interesting in that Tilton snapped them on their famous appearance on the Other Side of Midnight, which led to those pictures being used on the back of their debut LP cover. He also had access to the band backstage at Blackpool in 1989, where he pictured Ian Brown with an orange in his mouth – a picture which was used around the world and became one of Manchester music’s most enduring images.
He also took many pictures of the band before they truly ‘broke through’ and his descriptions of those shoots and the band at the time are a fascinating insight into how their image developed. Second hand clothes were ‘the thing’ in 1988, apparently. This insight saved the exhibition from being yet another Madchester cringefest. Reading how photographs came about is never boring and despite the saturation of Manchester revivals this year already, it offered something different.
As we choke back the vomit induced by the jubilee sponger-fest, it was welcoming to see Hilton’s picture of Morrissey holding aloft a placard with ‘The Queen is Dead’ defiantly scrawled on it (see top of page).
Perhaps Tilton’s most famous photograph, worldwide, is that of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain crying with his head in his hand. It was seen as a clue into his mental state, but as Tilton explains, it was merely an outcry of emotion at the end of a gig, before he dried the tears and carried on as if nothing had happened. “The rest of the band seemed used to it,” Hilton explains.
There is the great picture of Iggy Pop aiming a boot at Hilton’s lens too. And with it, a nice story of what happened when the photographer went back stage to show ‘Mr Pop’ the picture.
Overall, a very enjoyable exhibition, if a little weird, having to walk around what is effectively a café bar to view the massive pictures. The Contact Theatre does a lot of great work with young people and engages them in the arts, which has to be commended, so have a brew while you’re there too. The Contact is on Devas Street, off Oxford Road, not far from Big Hands and the exhibition runs until September. For more information visit www.iantilton.net or http://contactmcr.com
After viewing, I sampled the charity record sale at St Peter’s. I found nish. There was a lot of Neil Diamond bootlegs. But it was nice to flick through vinyl with the sun on your back.
I hiked to the Museum of Science and Industry next to see the Future Everything installation. This was once again a recommendation from a friend. When you have nice friends – listen to them. Ignore the dicks though. More on Future… when I can be arsed sparing the time to write a review… Off for a nap.