Manchester's scene has changed somewhat over the past few years. In the middle of the '00s, old Mill "Sankeys Soap" was undoubtedly one of the coolest places to go on a Friday night. So when someone decided to open the old Boddington's brewery to host a series of one-off parties back in 2006, a move that quickly progressed into the now booming Warehouse Project, many jumped at the chance to take it back to the underground. Now, in 2011 the two events, while incredibly successful, are so vastly popular they seem to have lost that feeling of being a not-so-well-kept-secret. As a result, it seems that many of Manchester's clubbing community are seeking smaller soirees when the weekend comes about.
Subsequently, a series of more intimate parties, such as Micron, Cutloose and Content, have charged into the fore: some of which provide an insight into fresh new talent, and some showcasing big names in Manchester's cosier venues. Content is a party that, since its inception in 2009, has booked the likes of Rolando, Kenny Larkin and Delano Smith to name but a few. The six-strong team of promoters and residents' combined knowledge of who and what makes a good party seems to have gained them a dedicated following in the past 18 months. For their March event, they pulled out all the stops in booking another Detroit techno master, Juan Atkins. This, following several years of Atkins' absence from any Manchester line-ups made the ears of the techno purists of the North West prick up.
Photo credit: Nik Torrens
On the night, all four Content residents were billed to warm the crowd up for Juan's appearance, and the low ceilings and gritty walls made an out-and-out sweatbox situation extremely likely as the venue rapidly filled up. As the lads played house music from the deep to the tech end of the spectrum, throwing in some Green Velvet along the way, it wasn't long before people were taking up every inch of space throughout the various levels on the dance floor, leaving the ever-faithful crammed against the front barrier waiting keenly for Atkins to take to the stage.
The night did not kick off without drama, with a broken turntable switched halfway through one of the residents' sets. However, after a rapid response from the organisers, it was resolved without a missed beat and went pretty much unnoticed by the mixed crowd of older techno fans and fresh-faced students. Atkins eventually appeared on the stage to an expectant and sweaty bunch, hitting them with some heavy techno to kick off proceedings. His set consisted of typically crowd-pleasing records, including old school techno, electro, a smattering of disco and a few classics thrown in (Inner City's "Big Fun"). He played it safe, but was well received by the crowd, and there were still whoops and cheers aplenty, with many still stomping their feet shouting for "one more tune" when the lights came up at 4 AM.