Haçienda Classical at Brighton Racecourse this week

Graeme Park                     Credit Jack Kirwan
Graeme Park Credit Jack Kirwan

Haçienda Classical with Graeme Park, Mike Pickering and Manchester Camerata comes to Brighton Racecourse on September 9 following a run of prestigious gigs over the summer including a sold-out London Royal Albert Hall concert and opening Glastonbury’s main stage.

They were at Brighton before, but as Graeme says, just because you saw them last year, don’t go thinking there is no need to see them again this year. Things have changed massively, the result of lessons learned.

Expect new energy as the show continues to soar onwards and upwards.

“Haçienda Classical is a re-imagining and recreation of a lot of the early acid-house tracks, early house tracks from Chicago and Detroit and New York – and Britain as well, but done with a full orchestra, percussion and strings and so on.”

The point is that the Haçienda ethos and legacy live on, long after the actual venue’s disappearance.

“We still do Haçienda club nights, but Mike Pickering, who is part of the project, and I noticed that the audiences coming to Haçienda club nights were getting younger and younger, and as a DJ you have to play to the crowd in front of you. You play stuff that they want to hear and that is relevant, and that means fewer tunes that they used to play at Haçienda. You have to adapt and you have to progress. If you were playing the same tunes all the time, you would go insane. But we were thinking ‘How do we keep the original Haçienda people happy?’ Obviously if you are over 40, you are not going to the clubs day in, day out. But the older clubbers would be coming along saying ‘We don’t know this music.’”

So, in a hotel bar, Graeme and Mike came up with the idea of getting together the original tracks that defined the dance music revolution – and putting them together with an orchestra.

“We got a great arranger and conductor, and we approached the Manchester Camerata Orchestra who were really up for it. And so Mike and I came up with 20 seminal Haçienda tracks, and our arranger got them scored and arranged for orchestra, and then we did the things that orchestras can’t do. And the next thing we knew we were performing in front of thousands of people in Manchester. We were expecting people to sit down and listen, but it was like a mini-rave. People were going mad. We sold out in ten minutes. We did a second show. And the next thing we knew the Royal Albert Hall were saying they wanted to book us. Last year we did about ten shows and then the requests started coming in for this year. But I said that if we were going to do this year, I wanted to do a new set list, which really set the cat among the pigeons. But the show this year takes it up to the next level. This year’s show has got a far more energetic pace.”

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