Monday, 30 July 2012

Who put the 'M' in Manchester?

This weekend, Kieran and I went up to Manchester to watch Morrissey in his only UK appearance this year. It was my 9th time seeing Moz and the second time I would see him in his hometown of Manchester - as Morrissey himself said, "There's no place like Hulme".

Fans of Morrissey and The Smiths will be aware that Manchester has become a place of pilgrimage for the more dedicated fans who travel there to visit the places referenced in Morrissey's lyrics or see the sites captured on the album artwork. 'Official' tours are available but with a bit of Googling and a handy SatNav you can find your way around and create your own tour. I like to refer to our tour as The Smiths Official Unofficial Smiths tour - catchy.

First stop was arguably one of the most recognisable destinations to any Smiths fan - Salford Lads Club. The club feratures in the sleeve for The Queen Is Dead and has been seen in videos for There Is a Light and Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before.

The Smiths outside Salford Lads (originally photographed by Stephen Wright)

To reach Salford Lads, we used the postcode 'M5 3RX'. It leads you to a dead on a housing estate but you can park at the end and then walk down a path to the club. There seems to be a way of driving right up outside the club but we couldn't figure this out!

We were lucky enough on this occasion to not just have our picture taken outside but be invited in to take a look at The Smiths room inside. A fantastic collection of memorabelia is proudly on display along with adoring messages from fans around the world.

Next up, it was off to the 'iron bridge' as featured in the lyrics of 'Still Ill'. There is dispute over what bridge Morrissey would have been referring to when he sang, "Under the iron bridge we kissed..." but the general consensus seems to be that it is the railway bridge off of King's Road where Morrissey once lived.

This was tricky to find as King's Road is really long. We used the postcode 'M32 8GW' which took us to Kings Road. We then drove up and down trying to find the bridge. There is a newsagent and takeaway at around 490 Kings Road. The bridge can be seen to the left of these as you look at them.

The bridge itself is a huge iron and green monstosity and has been graffitied with lyrics by fans from America, Europe and Australia. You can't actually get underneath the bridge but you can still kiss on it which is almost as good (plus I didn't end up with sore lips).

 Since we were on Kings Road, we made a quick stop off at number 384 - Morrissey's home from the age of 10-24.

Finally, we ended the tour by visiting the cemetery gates of Southern Cemetery. We didn't venture inside as it's important to remember this is still a cemetery and it's important to be respectful. I also doubt very much that we would have found the graves of Keats, Yates or Wilde - Morrissey was certainly using his artistic licence here.

 The day ended at Machester Arena where Morrissey was well and truly on form. His voice sounded great and he was as witty and cutting as ever with asides about the olympics and the Jubilee. The crowd were a typical Moz crowd with the stage invasions hitting their peak during the final song, Still Ill (which seems a fitting end for us since we had spent so much time on the bridge!)

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