March 2020 was one of the worst times to start a band. At least on paper, anyway.
The world pressed pause on live music and gigs last spring – physically splitting music groups and bringing an abrupt halt to rehearsals, recordings sessions and stage performances.
For many, it marked the end. When it became clear that COVID wasn’t going away, thousands of artists decided to call it a day – fearful that their next payslips would be permanently postponed.
But whilst most bands chose to unplug, four lads in Failsworth were only just getting started.
Vocalist Tom Smith, guitarist Daniel Ashcroft, bass player Steve Jillings, and drummer Alex Amidulla proceeded with plans to form a new group – unperturbed by the pandemic-sized hurdles being added to an already-challenging route to success in music.
The quartet – who are Mancunian to the bone – made a bid to embody the oft-cited catchphrase that ‘Manchester does things differently’.
Naming themselves The Haciendas, the group began creating energetic, alternative rock anthems that carried the same kind of swaggering energy and braggadocio of the Madchester era – defying the deflated sensation that consumed the city during quarantine.
The band took inspiration from Manchester’s musical heritage to create something new – and they did it during the most testing time for music in recent memory.
Even their breakthrough was different. Whilst most groups first get recognised on stage at a local pub, The Haciendas turned heads online.
The group played their first show together on a livestream for MMTV in July – proving such a smash that they sold out their first in-person headline show (which was subsequently cancelled due to a second Stay At Home Order).
The Hacienda’s unique brand of lockdown rock even secured them an interview in Manchester United fanzine United We Stand. For four huge Red Devils’ supporters, this achievement probably would have been enough in itself. But the group have ploughed on regardless through the rolling restrictions – releasing two singles and building an astonishingly large fanbase without playing a single real-life show.
Their first single, ‘It’s Not Too Late‘, was released on December 11 – reaching #6 in the iTunes Alternative Charts. Their second track, ‘Joker’, featured as ‘Record of the Week’ on XS Manchester.
It’s been an opening chapter that’s defied all expectations. But the next part of the story is the biggie.
The Haciendas’ first headline show has been scheduled for October 9 at The Bread Shed in Manchester – with the group (hopefully) finally set to play a debut live gig in front of packed hometown crowd.
“We entered the music industry together at what turned out to be a very strange and unfortunate time,” says lead singer Tom.
“Although we took it in our stride and without the chance of getting out there in front of crowds, we have managed to build a fan base and release two singles.
“We can only imagine what it is going to be like once everything has blown over.”
Manchester music store Forsyth is giving away free music lessons
Manchester music store Forsyth is giving away a host of free music lessons next month in a bid to inspire people to learn a new instrument, or pick up an old one.
The store is giving new and returning musicians a chance to receive a 10–15-minute free music taster session as part of its Music for All Learn to Play ’22 event.
Taking place across 8 and 9 October between 10am-5pm (8 October) and 1130am-30pm (9 October),short taster music lessons will allow all ages and abilities to have a musical experience that could turn into a lifetime of enjoyment, or even a new career.
Speaking on the free music lesson initiative, Emma from Forsyths said: “The past two years have shown how important music is to all our lives and how it can bring people together even in the most difficult of circumstances.
“We aim to help as many people as possible understand the unique joys and benefits of learning an instrument (or taking part in a choir).
“Anyone interested in learning to play an instrument or looking to pick it up again, should come and join us for this two-day celebration of music making.
“We’re delighted to be part of Music for All’s Learn to Play ’22 event, and we can’t wait to get started.”
OBE Jools Holland, Patron of Music for All, said: “Making music is very important to me. It’s my work, my pleasure, my friend, companion and therapist.
The charity Music for All believes passionately in the unique power of music to change lives and that is why it runs Learn to Play.
Music for All believes everyone should have equal access to music making.
The charity supports disadvantaged music makers by providing cash grants for tuition and instruments and by donating instruments directly.
INNSiDE North UK launch new intimate gig and event series — from inside a bedroom
INNSiDE North UK is launching an new series of intimate gigs hosted from a rather unorthodox location: inside a bedroom.
‘INNSiDE The Bedroom’ is the hotel chain’s first exclusive event series and will take place from within the confines of their hotel rooms located in Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.
Hosted on select nights throughout the coming months, the series kicks off with a performance by Newcastle-based songwriter, Andrew Cushin, who has just come off a number of shows supporting the likes of Noel Gallagher and The Libertines.
Andrew will be taking over Gorilla on Whitworth Street for the second night of his upcoming UK tour and will be playing the first of these unique experiences at just before taking to the stage on 6 October.
Better still, 10 people will have the chance to get tickets to watch this intimate gig first-hand, complete with full lighting and sound systems, at the four-star INNSiDE Manchester on First Street. Oh yeah, and The Manc will be filming the whole thing.
Not only will the Geordie be entertaining fans in the afternoon with an acoustic set, but the show will be followed by a meet and greet, with welcome drinks will also be offered to guests on arrival. What more could you ask for from a concert inside a bedroom?
Scott Brown, Director of Sales for the UK North arm, said: “We’re so excited to welcome Andrew Cushin to INNSiDE Manchester to kick off this fantastic new series.
He said INNSiDE, operated by Spanish hotel group Meliá, is all about “creating special experiences for our guests, from hosting wellness days to filling our bedrooms with flourishing houseplants, and now touring musicians!”
He added that the team “can’t wait to see Andrew in action and look forward to announcing further acts across [their] hotels” and neither can we, to be honest.
First Street has seen more events than ever following HOME cinema, theatre and gallery’s inaugural Festival this year, with live music playing a key part of the outdoor vibes throughout this summer.
While INNSiDE regularly has live music and DJs in the Open Living Lounge and downstairs lobby areas, this will be the first time the hotel has hosted an event like this in one of its bedrooms. It’s like a throwback to those lockdown livestream loads of musicians did during quarantine only with people in the room!
The ‘INNSiDE The Bedroom’ series is designed to stay in keeping with INNSiDE by Meliá’s philosophy, ‘Stay Curious’, which promises to accommodate guests’ every need with considered comforts and inspiring experiences enriched with music, art and wellness.
As mentioned, the 10 lucky music fans will be able to win the chance to attend the exclusive gig at INNSiDE Manchester via a competition on Instagram, which will also include tickets to the Gorilla gig with Andrew Cushin later that evening, so keep an eye out!