‘Cities In The Park’, summer 1991, felt at the time like a re-run of ‘The Tenth Event’, only 5 years later and outside.

Demonstrating the triumph of hope over experience, me and my friends bought tickets for the Sunday and arrived at Heaton Park with beer and a picnic, only to discover that the bouncers wouldn’t allow food or drink through the gates.

(Saturday was out of the question because my hatred of The Wonderstuff was/is visceral – the Size Of A Cow. The Beautiful South are/were only slightly less offensive – their, no doubt, noble attempt to make ordinariness a subject worth singing about sadly ended up sounding smug and middle of the road. I speak as a non-fan who has heard only the singles.)

So we ate our picnic on the wrong side of the fence… necking the beer in record time. (I can still picture cans of Castlemaine 4X in Safeways plastic bags. At the time we called them ‘tinnies’… a Neighbours’ reference I think.)

Consequently my memories of the concert are marred by my being pissed from the start and obsessed by the location of toilets.

citiesinpa

On entering the enclosure, I remember being struck by a strong smell of fried onions, and everywhere people were queuing for plastic glasses of warm beer. It was like being trapped in a fairground without any rides. No wonder people resort to drug-taking at festivals.

The acts I remember are Happy Mondays, Pet Shop Boys and Electronic. Did the Pet Shop Boys really arrive in a helicopter… or is that a fake memory?

Weather-wise it was dull and dry… and that phrase could be stretched to cover most of the music too: I loved Electronic’s album but seeing and hearing the songs performed live was oddly uninspiring.

My clearest memory is my friend Liz suddenly recognising that Rowetta (singer with the Happy Mondays) had been in her school year at Unsworth Comprehensive, and recounting various school stories; meanwhile Rowetta was dancing round the stage flashing her knickers at the crowd.

Liz recalled that when Rowetta sang in school productions, the sound of her voice made the hairs on the back of everyones’ necks stand on end…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Rowetta was lead singer with Vanilla Sound Corps around this time. I saw them twice around 1990 in Manchester. The first performance was great; the second not so good because of technical problems.

One of the concerts was at a place on Oxford Road – Jillies/Music Box I think. I went there intending to meet up with my friend; her “local music industry boss” had instructed her to spend the evening with Mick Hucknall - apparently he had no actual mates left in Manchester by this stage.

When I got there, I expected to be able to socialise with my friend, but was made to feel like a gooseberry. So in the absence of anything better to do, I lurked around the DJ box and chatted to the DJ.

I asked him to play ‘Love Sensation’ by Loleatta Holloway, which had recently come to people’s attention through the success of Black Box’s ‘Ride On Time’, which sampled the vocals. He boasted that he had ‘broken’ ‘Love Sensation’. I wasn’t convinced but didn’t argue.

I patiently waited for my request to be played for at least 40 minutes, and then when it finally came on, the DJ let it play for about 1 minute before mixing into another tune. I was so disappointed that I accused him of taking the piss. He replied that he’d heard it so often that he was now bored with it… something which he’d neglected to mention earlier. We proceeded to have a stand-up row…

My friend was still ensconsed in some darkened booth with Mick when I marched past, pursued by the irate DJ, who had abandoned his DJ box and was bellowing ‘You’re never getting in here again!,’ while I shrieked back ‘Don’t worry – I won’t be coming back to this dump… the music’s crap!’

Later on, back at the flat, my friend said ‘What was all that about with Jon DaSilva?’

I had no idea who the DJ was, but I filed the name for future reference.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A couple of years later, I went to a night called ‘Space Funk’ at The Pavillion on Portland Street, to find out what the music was like; it was Ibiza-housey, anonymous and boring.

I said to the DJ ‘If your night is called ‘Space Funk’ why don’t you play something funky?’

A few minutes later, I heard the intro to ‘Love Sensation’, and rushed to the dance floor:

Loleatta Holloway – Love Sensation (1980)

Then I realised belatedly that the DJ was Jon DaSilva… I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered or alarmed by his long memory, but atleast he played the song from start to finish!

Sadly banal house resumed as soon as the record ended.