MADCHESTER: THE GATHERING… Scenes 1-3

SCENE 1

March 1979: Joy Division are concluding their set at Bowdon Vale Youth Club, Altrincham. There are kids as young as ten in the crowd. The final notes of Love Will Tear Us Apart are met with rapturous applause. The crowd begins to disperse.

John Squire
That was amazing

Ian Brown
Certainly was, John,
From doldrum, slingshot starlight to inspire

John Squire
That was cosmically quaternary
With bass, guitar, vocals – from now I know
A better drummer makes a better band

Ian Brown
I felt that too, John, felt the perfect beat
Of punkish rush, with motown’s pounding sound
Enmix’d, beneath melodious menage

John Squire
Hey, Ian

Ian Brown
Yeah mate

John Squire
We should form a band
Then one day write some proper beltin tracks

Ian Brown
Well, we’d best get started then, lets heave home

Exit John & Ian / Paul Ryder approaches Peter Hook as he’s packing away his bass

Paul Ryder
‘Ere mate, that was proper buzzin’ that was

Peter Hook
Cheers kid, have this

Paul Ryder
What is it

Peter Hook
My plectrum

Paul Ryder
I’m thinkin’ about playing bass like you

Peter Hook
The glue that keeps the golden groove, my boy,
Binding a band’s togetherness, bassline
Reigns supreme – feel them in your heart, ears, guts
Emitting clear omnipotence thro songs

Paul Ryder
OK

Peter Hook
& kid, good luck, go play

Paul Ryder
I will

Exit Peter Hook / enter Shaun Ryder

Shaun Ryder
Oi Paul,
C’mon, we’re skinnin’ up in bogs, yer comin’

Paul Ryder
Yeah… Shaun

Shaun Ryder
Yeah

Paul Ryder
Lets put a band together

Shaun Ryder
Why not, gotta be smarter than robbin’
But come on, before they cane all the draw

Exit Paul & Shaun / enter Bez

Bez
As like some VHS or Betamax
Rewinding with a whirr back to the start
Before the next retelling of the tale
As tangl’d plotlines of this conchord root
I’ll say my little prologue, with an eye
& great events to come, I’ve lived them once
What amazing congregations await
Like here, full energiz’d, a magic host,
The best bands need to feed upon best crowds
When playing loud & live they’ll thrive on love
As in the groove communion each plays
Their part in summoning the Spirit Dance;
One Heart, One Vibe, One Music & one wild
Emergence of delight within One Soul –
& so it was in Manchester when song
Erupted in caverns, dance halls & clubs,
Like Bowdon Vale Youth Club, seventy-nine
& I was there with half of Altrincham
Grammar, with a few other kids from town,
Like the brothers Ryder, fates’ yet parted
From my own, tho’ destiny intends
Colliding worlds, by Trojan gods chosen
To represent, to fashion, to parade
Iconoclastic psionitic songs
In all the vibrant glory of our youths –
We were young when sonic seeds were planted,
A little older when first shoots appear’d
From all the earthy firmaments of fate,
& then we bloom’d, when music rul’d our town,
Us in our twenties, drifting on a dream
Of talents as them tapp’d, that would become
The miracle of Madchester in time.

Exit Bez


SCENE 2

The Factory Office. 1980. The wake of Ian Curtis. Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner (New Order), Debbie Curtis, Martin Hannet, Tony Wilson & Rob Gretton are watching the Sex Pistols in silence

Rob Gretton
Its fucking shit, this, this is fucking shit

Stephen Morris
I know, mate, what a selfish idiot

Tony Wilson
Hang on, let not such harsh words taint the day
& change our best remembrances of him
Who brought the fruits of beauty to the fair
Where all was dull & dusty, creaking rigs
Of iron-bolted Victoriana
Reduced to slums midst chimneys without looms,
Whose urban decay, alienation,
Was filling with our music, with our songs
When semi-sensory deprivation
Of landscapes over-ran by disposses’d
Became an optimistic paradise
Where Ian Curtis, prophet midst the bins,
The Che Guevera of post-punk became

Bernard Sumner
Our songs? Our music? This dismal affair
Them rendersd wastrel, mute, & meaningless,

Martin Hannet
Or not, perhaps them given meaning now
Two masterworks about to be releas’d
The brutal bloom of Love Tears Us Apart
& Closer, black bouquet, from whence I pluck’d

The strangest blooms of post-punk paragons

Stephen Morris
O what a massive album that shall be
I have revolv’d it constantly since, since…
Since

Bernard Sumner
Ian died… me too

Rob Gretton
& me

Peter Hook
As I
But almost too unbearable to hear
I’ve for the first time listen’d to the words
Transcribing every lyric, Oh My God
‘Tis but a manifesto of his death
A warning of his suicide to come

Rob Gretton
I the same – bloody hell – he was a bit
Why didn’t anyone say anything

Tony Wilson
We understimated the dangers
& acted stupid in our flippancy

Bernard Sumner
We did weather his terminal illness,
With all the inexperience of youth
Whose innocence has died the day he died

Debbie Curtis
The blueprint given to me directly
I was his wife & saw his inner thoughts
Upon the moors given air & body
As we went walking in our closest days
He did not want to live yon twenty-five
But this was rooted in a teenage angst
From which all grow, I thought he’d done the same
An elevated spirit to the world
& all his gross morosity enjoy’d
Soul wallowing like hippopotami
In all the moody mudflats of his mind
& all he wanted was wordsmitherie
To novels sculpt, let lyrics fount & flow

Bernard Sumner
I do not think I’ll ever find the strength
To cope with Ian’s death, verve of my life
Removed forever, & I will never
Ever forget him, or be able to
For just as friends he meant so much to me,
Regardless of the group, but when that mixed
Into our two-fold destiny, the shock
Of such a gross departure leaves me scarr’d

Stephen Morris
So much have we achiev’d, & yet so young,
& just about to step onto the plane
That leads to glory & America
To tour the states a dream of ours for years
& he’s just burst it with a bastard noose

Peter Hook
The fun of life hath lifted with a flash
Flow, flow, ye ripples of grief, over ponds,
Streams & rivers, harbours, estuaries, seas
& join the oceans of unspoken tears

Debbie Curtis
I think its callous, my heart’s frozen cold,
How can you do this to the ones you love
You’ve go to put them first, your family
Your friends,

Peter Hook
His vision of the future was too bleak
& he was very ill

Tony Wilson
What’s done is done,
As dust-drawn stars one day return to dust
His time had come, to some before his time,
To him, who knows, the cyclone of his mind
Dragg’d rages thro’ his latter days of life

Bernard Sumner
He was anguish’d, frustrated & depress’d
Events were slipping out of his control
When labouring under the heavy weight
Of illness, stardom, & America
Of leaving Debbie but sharing a child
& loving someone she could not call mum
Were nothing but the final troublesparks
Which lit the fusewire of the fragile box
Which kept hyenas from the rape of dreams
He said as much to me one drunken night
A week before he slic’d his slender bark
Right off the great tree Yggdrasil

Tony Wilson
That last
Time we ever spoke still haunts me madly
Down Birmingham, now Joy Division’s tomb,
I prais’d his use of archaic phrases
All thro a conversation very deep
Then on the day before he went & died
I was driving down thro Piccadilly
& saw him in the streets just after dawn
He clearly had been wandering all night
With Annik rolling off him happywise,
Who saw him homeward with a clinch of love
Then I & he did catch the self-same train
But sat in sep’rate carriages apart
Til he got off at Macclesfield & I
Went on to London, to lifelong regret
I should have sat beside him to confine
All thoughts of suicide…

Debbie Curtis
Tony… Tony

Tony Wilson
Sorry, what

Debbie Curtis
There’s nothing you could have done

Rob Gretton
Its time we form’d a funerary toast
To Ian

All
Ian

Peter Hook
He was a great friend
Stage-shaman, singer & a bloke superb
Good luck mate, let your spirit wings unfurl
& fly thee t’where the fuck your soul belongs

Stephen Morris
So what about the band… is that too fresh

Martin Hannet

The music never dies, lads, only fades

But always comes back burning on a wheel

Bernard Sumner
Well, we had rehearsals book’d, didn’t we
Anybody cancel

Rob Gretton
Nope

Peter Hook
Not me

Stephen Morris
No

Rob Gretton
Well fuck it, then, lets just carry on lads

Stephen Morris
So, I’ll see you all on Monday shall I

Bernard Sumner
It’ll be a fuckin blue one like, but
I’ll be there

Peter Hook
Me too

Stephen Morris
Well see you’s Monday
I’m off

Tony Wilson
See ya mate

Debbie Curtis
Tara chuck

Bernard Sumner
Laters

Exit Stephen

Martin Hannet
Who wants another beer then

Peter Hook
Aye go on

Tony Wilson
I’ll have a can of guiness instead

Silence descends – Martin goes to the fridge for some beers / passes them out / they carry on watching the show


SCENE 3

1981 – Mark, Paul, Shaun & Gaz Whelan are in a Salford community centre preparing to practice – Derek Ryder is setting up their equipment

Derek Ryder
Happy Mondays ! What kinda name is that

Mark Day
Its terrible innit Derek

Derek Ryder
Tis that

Paul Ryder
Nah, dad, its cool, its so bad its cheesy
We Scallys aren’t supposed to be happy

Shaun Ryder
Unless we’re on summat

Paul Ryder
Exactly Shaun
Especially not on fuckin Mondays
Its kind of opposite of what we’re like
Its a shit name but that’s the point right there
If it jars with us

Shaun Ryder
It certainly does
Then that is the critical quintessence
Of what we’re all about

Gaz Whelan
Where dya get them?

Derek Ryder
What, these mike stands

Gaz Whelan
Aye them

Derek Ryder
I cut a little deal with Al Capone

Mark Day
Did you pay for ‘em

Derek Ryder
Course I bloody dint
I walk’d inside the Tattersall Rd Club
A week last Wednesday, well these two babies
Were lying about, no-one put em away
So I’m like, the club must not want them then

Shaun Ryder
They’re better off with us dad, yeah

Paul Ryder
So dad,
Ya done yet?

Derek Ryder
Aye, its all working proper
Give yer instruments a nudge, check the sound

Mark Day
Has anybody seen mi red plectum

Shaun Ryder
Up yer fucking rectum – hey, its good that
I bet its sounding banging in a song
I found a plectrum up yer rectu-um

Derek Ryder
{passing a packet of plectrums}
Here, use one these

The band make a few noises & adjustments

Paul Ryder
Well, dad, it all seems to be working fine
So… ya can leave us to it now

Derek Ryder
You what

Shaun Ryder
He means you can fuck off dad

Derek Ryder
Not a chance
All of this is my fucking equipment,
I paid for this room

Paul Ryder
But it’s a shit hole

Derek Ryder
Never mind, I still fuckin paid for it

Shaun Ryder
But when you making proper buzzing tunes
Astride the astral rainbows of music
Willowing hither, willowing thither
Who the fuck wants their dad on the carpet?

Derek Ryder
I’m staying, get over it, now come on
Play a tune or summat, at six o clock
The Don & Dominoes are coming in

Mark Day
What shall we play

Gaz Whelan
Lets warm up with a jam

Paul Ryder
Nah, remember that one we did last time
Lets kick off with it, I’ve written some riffs
Over the rough recording, dad press play

Mark Day
Which one was it, I can’t remember mate?

Paul Ryder
That narcoleptic ditty call’d the Egg,
Some marshmellow procession thro the Blues
You forg’d a snatch or two of lyrics, Shaun
That herein are transcrib’d

Paul passes Shaun a lyric sheet

Shaun Ryder
Nice one our kid

Paul Ryder
We should start off all proper spacey
I’ve been listening to Donavon’s new
Neutronica, & its opening track
Has such a splendid jamboree of sounds
Over a galloping beat, lets do that

Derek Ryder
Fucking Donavon

Paul Ryder
Not that folky shit
He’s entering the eighties all space age

Gaz Whelan
Well, lets do it then, ready 1-2-3-4

They play The Egg

Derek Ryder
That was good that

Gaz Whelan
Shaun, you got any draw

Shaun Ryder
Yeah I do, but Gazza that reminds me
Mate, if I’m out about & selling drugs
Can ya stop shouting, ‘Shaun, got any speed
Got any weed,’

Gaz Whelan
What shall I call ya then

Shaun Ryder
I’ve been thinking – you can call me X

Gaz Whelan
X!
You’re not some fucking secret agent, mate

Paul Ryder
Hes quite a clandestine cunt is our kid
Sneaky as fuck, the name has fram’d his jib
So, everyone should have a nickname then
A band’s a band, we do things together
I wanna be Horse, Paul Ryder, horse rider
& what about Mark, Mark Day, the Sunray

Shaun Ryder
Nah, he looks like a cow, so he’s Cowhead
Especially with his big dopey voice
Spouting off sanity in bore-o-tone

Mark Day
Somebody has to be the sane one lads

Paul Ryder
Well… define sanity

Mark Day
A pension plan
Rock n rollin’ is not a proper job

Shaun Ryder
Precisely, pal, if I was ever forced
To face, confront, reality, I would
End it there & then, despond into death
Spurning labour’s stagnant drudgeries
I’d rather paint wings on a butterfly
Than timewaste chasing money for to burn
Time yet more on material bullshit

Gaz Whelan
What about me

Mark Day
Well, you’re Pepe le Pew
Always farting when you walk in a room
Leg-cocking, leaving scent-traps everywhere

Paul Ryder
Stinking the fucking place out, that’s us then
We’re Horse, X, Cowhead & Pepe le Pew
The matchless, magic Happy Mondays crew

Paul Davis walks in with a bass

Derek Ryder
Alright mate, can we help ya

Paul Davis
Yeah you can
I want to be in your band

Paul Ryder
In our band

Paul Davis
Yeah, Gaz Whelan’s in it & he’s a dick

Gaz Whelan
Alright Paul

Paul Davis
Alright Gaz

Gaz Whelan
You found it then

Paul Davis
I bought a bass this morning, boys, its blue

Paul Ryder
We don’t need a bass – I’m the bass player

Paul Davis
But I’ll be fuckin’ better – when I learn

Mark Day
You what? you don’t even know how to play

Paul Davis
Not yet

Derek Ryder
What about keyboards, you play them

Paul Davis
Keyboards, yeah, of course I can play keyboards
They’re proper easy

Shaun Ryder
Dad what ya saying

Derek Ryder
You need a bit of extra in the sound
A little top might be the cherry slice
That does complete your sensory sound

Mark Day
Can you really play the keyboards

Paul Davis
A bit
Whats a bit, like a bit, or not really

Paul Davis
Somewhere in between – but I’ve got rhythm

Paul Ryder
Nah, you’ve got a mental disorder mate

Have you even got a keyboard

Paul Davis
Not yet
Look, let me take this bass back to the shop
& I’ll return on a flash of lightning
With a nice shiny keyboard, by the way
My name’s Paul Davis, Gaz calls me PD

Exit Paul Davis

Shaun Ryder
What the fuck was that

Gaz Whelan
That’s PD, a repropbate, my best mate

Paul Ryder
He’ll need a nickname

Shaun Ryder
How about ‘Knobhead’

Mark Day
That seems about right
He’s an absolute plum

Shaun Ryder
He seems quite mad
But none of us are exactly balanced
Upright individuals, he’ll slot in
This life of struggle offers chances few
So who are we then others to deny
A shot at something special in our lives

Gaz Whelan
So X have you got any draw, or what?

Shaun Ryder
Good idea, lets take a break, skin up

Derek Ryder
But you lot’ve only play’d one fucking song!

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