Brighton Racecourse Live was due to launch last Friday with The Human League, Marc Almond and The South. However, the Great British weather put a dampener on that plan and the outdoor event was sadly cancelled for safety reasons, lest the stage take off in the high winds.
Fortunately, the winds died down the following day and the Saturday event went ahead as planned. Entering Brighton Racecourse just before sunset, just as Stereo MCs were wrapping up, the upbeat crowd of ageing clubbers were all there to relive the Hacienda days of the 80s and 90s, born at the legendary nightclub FAC 51 The Hacienda in Manchester.
With an outdoor bar, food stands, a sufficient number of portaloos and the stage set against a setting sun, dance music stalwarts Groove Armada began warming up the evening with a banging set of dancefloor classics, such as their own ‘Superstylin’’ and ‘I See You Baby’, mixing with sing-at-the-top-of-your-voice tracks like ‘Passion (Do You Want It Right Now)’ by Gat Décor and a genius mix of Candi Staton’s ‘You Got the Love’ blending seamlessly with their remix of ‘Talk To You’ by Drewxhill.
Frustratingly, lengthy queues at the bar in the interval meant thirsty punters had to wait up to an hour to get served. Clearly a bigger bar and more bar staff needed.
The Manchester Camerata orchestra filled the stage with DJs Mike Pickering and Graeme Park taking a back seat behind their mixing decks. After problems with the sound during their show at Brighton Dome last year, it was satisfying to hear the classical instruments alongside well-loved house tracks in their full splendour. The set started with a reimagining of ‘Anthem’ by one hit wonders N-Joi and remained in quite a gospel vein for the next few tracks.
The singer Rae Hall belted out Ultra Nate’s ‘Free’ amongst others before Manc icon Bez postured around the stage for ‘Shaker Song’ by Playtime Toons. A very pleasant surprise it was to hear an orchestral version of ‘Yeke Yeke’ before Peter Hook’s rendition of ‘Blue Monday’. The energy really picked up with the last few tracks sung by Rowetta, including ‘Peace (In The Valley)’, ‘Ride On Time’, with Bez and Hooky joining her for ‘Where Love Lives’ and closing with – you guessed it – ‘You’ve Got The Love’.
The well-known dancefloor classics brought back fond memories for all the middle-aged ravers, while their classical reinvention adds a new dimension for the modern era: joyous, uplifting music performed by talented musicians. With sell-out shows all over the country, the Hacienda Classical project is an unprecedented success.
Brighton Racecourse, Saturday 9th September 2017
Words by Emma Baker
Photo by Simon Emm Foti