Tony Wilson’s son Oliver spoke for 30 minutes in an unscheduled slot about his life as a music promoter and the impact Manchester and his father’s career had on him.
Considering Shaun Ryder was once his babysitter, and one of his first holidays was with New Order in Ibiza, he seemed a pretty grounded and pragmatic young man.
After him, he got our first bit of audience participation with Richard Leese having to defend the council’s attitude to culture and its heritage.
Oliver Wilson did not follow his Father’s example of turning around on the M1 and making his name here in the city. He moved to London to persue his career, partly because of ambition but surely his surname would have caused issues for him as an independent promoter making his way in the industry here in Manchester.
He claims though that he saw something that weighed people down here, and he thought London would free him to do more and achieve a greater level of success. “Things have started to change in the last five or six years though, even the Northern Quarter has really blossomed”.
He went on to discuss an online debate he had recently where he was asked which is the better city in the North for the music scene? “It has to be Manchester… Manchester takes the lead, and in recent months bands like the Ting Tings, The Courteeners, anyway I’ve seen more great bands coming out of Manchester compared to Liverpool or other Northern cities”.
What about the future? “If I could tell you what the next thing to look out for is, I could retire. You never know”, he said. “There is massive opportunity. If you want to do it, get out there and do it. If you’re producing great songs, success is inevitable”, he concluded.
Following on from Oliver, Elliot Rashman took scousers Peter Hooton and Jayne Casey onto the sofas for a chat about the development of Liverpool and what Manchester could learn from their recent developments.
A central theme of that discussion was the corporate take-overs of city centres, something Manchester can certainly empathise with. “I knew when I saw the high-street names moving into Liverpool that they were going to move the artists out. You don’t have studios and rehearsal rooms next to a Debenhams or a John Lewis store” Jayne siad. As Richard Leese was in the corner of the room Jayne suggested “Whatever [buildings] you don’t want, just give them to the artists”.
When it came to Liverpool’s attitude to culture, controversially during the year of culture, she said “This is a city that built a car park over the Cavern, this is a city that would allow Cream [the club she was a founder of] to close… Liverpool City Council are only any good at handling culture when it becomes a heritage issue”.
The debate obviously then moved onto Manchester City Council’s attitude to some of the buildings that have been developed. It got rather interesting as members of the audience pointed out that some building – The Hacienda, The Free Trade Hall, and others – have been largely “disrespected”.
“We should be talking about the future and not about how to turn this city into a museum”, Richard Leese felt compelled to respond. As audience members attempted to shout him down he continued “The Free Trade Hall was a poor 1950s reconstruction of a building with lousy acoustics. Let’s talk about how to move things forward”.