Sunderland goes ‘mad for it’ at Haçienda classical

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.  Featuring Bez.
Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw. Featuring Bez.

Blow your whistle!

Ravers danced in the rain as the hedonism of famous Manchester nightclub Haçienda came to Herrington Country Park.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Sounds that shaped the iconic club, which spun its last track in the late 90s, rang out as DJs who helped make it a dance institution took to the decks once more.

Even the soggy weather couldn’t dampen this summer of love.

With original Haçienda DJs Graeme Park and Mike Pickering at the helm, the thousands who attended the gig were taken on a nostalgic trip back to the 80s and early 90s when the dance revolution took clubs by storm. The jumping sea of outstretched arms were almost as entertaining as the entertainment itself as they gyrated their way down memory lane with giddy nostalgia – even if the style was a little more ‘dad dance’ all these years later.

A surprise appearance from Happy Mondays legend Bez had everyone twisting their melons in tune to his trademark moves – this was Herrington Country Park, but not as we know it.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

But those expecting it to be purist acid house and tracks from the Madchester era were wrong.

I doubt a string section was ever associated with Fac51 back in the day, but for this interpretation Manchester Camerata orchestra and the AMC Gospel choir added another dimension to the dance tracks. How do the heavy beats of dance music gel with the more intricate subtleties of a 70-strong orchestra?

At times, they didn’t, and it was hard to hear the orchestra over the heavy bass. The fact the gig was outdoors maybe didn’t help.

But on tracks with a stronger focus on vocals, such as Get Back to Love and Ride on Time, it was a perfect, rich blend. And you couldn’t fault the spectacle of the stage with its central DJ tower flanked by talented musicians as lasers streamed across the audience.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Park and Pickering spun a continuous set of classics proving they still know how to work a crowd, with tracks from the archives that defined the Manchester glory days, such as Move Your Body, which had everyone dusting off their glo sticks.

Happy Monday’s singer Rowetta lent her distinctive sonorous tones to Candi Staton’s You Got The Love which had the ravers closing their eyes in joyful reminiscence.

They don’t make superclubs like the Haçienda anymore, but though the dancefloor may be demolished, the music lives on as a legacy to those halcyon nights.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Crowds enjoy Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Crowds enjoy Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Crowds enjoy Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Crowds enjoy Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.