A chilly trip up north to the wonderful Manchester was in order on Saturday for The Hacienda Returns at The Mayfield Depot, a night of Bands, Acts and DJs in celebration of perhaps the best known nightclub in clubbing history. I had never been to the original Hacienda nor had I been to The Mayfield Depot but I had an idea of what to expect in regards to the musical offerings.

The first thing that strikes me when I walk into the venue is the size. Yes i knew it was a warehouse in its former life but it is gargantuan and I think in my mind I had underestimated how big it would be, it is very impressive and from the moment you stepped foot inside the door the lighting was on display, it was like walking into the best club you could ever imagine.

The first room “The Concourse” is your first stop, and perhaps your last visit to this room if you carried on at that point as later in the night it was ram-packed so tight they had to stop access to it until some of the crowd had left, but more on that later.

It’s 4pm and in the main room, “The Depot”, the large majority of the punters are already talking, laughing and dancing. The event starts of with a few DJs, one in each room. The sound is echoing, as you would expect from a venue this size. Reverberations from far and wide as the sound travels from the vast array of speakers and you can just about make out more than the bass and kick. Coupled with the red wash of the lights even this early it gave off fantastic vibes.

The staff, so far, have been friendly and courteous which always adds to the atmosphere.

In the The Depot a DJ by the moniker of Russ is kicking out some deep pounding house music that i could imagine being played at the original venue that made tonights events name famous. A good selection of tunes to warm up the cold (in temperature) crowd that had arrived early doors.

Another thing about the venue type is it’s as cold inside as it is outside, for the early hours anyway.  As the room (well, perhaps too big to call a room) fills up with plenty of happy dancing souls the temperature increased to a more comfortable level and eventually it was difficult to work out if the place had been blasted by fog machines or if it was fog created from the sweat from the many bodys moving colliding with the cool air. Which ever it was it made the light show even better.

Straight away I regretted not booking a hotel and having a drink to let loose but can’t change that now so on with the show.

As Norman Jay MBE takes to the decks in The Depot it is time to head off to the next room “The Archives” for the start of A Certain Ratios set (perhaps one of the bad things about multiple rooms and multiple artists/djs, you can’t catch everything you want, I have seen Norman Jay before and really enjoyed his set but it was time to check out a band).

A Certain Ratio, never seen them before but boy i wish i had. They have a great presence and a funky sound that had even me moving my feet. In their relatively short set they paid a tribute to recently passed friend Denise Johnson with “never stop loving you”Wont Stop Loving You”.

I’m ashamed to say I am very late to the ACR party, but what I do know is I really really enjoyed it, that mix of electronica with funk and disco is a winning combination (they are still performing after all these years to very receptive crowds) and I would have been more than happy if their set was longer, and I hope I will get the chance to see them again soon. Songs played included Do the Du, Afro Dizzy and the aforementioned Won’t Stop Loving You.


After the set it was back into The Depot and the tunes were still pumping. A nice bit of Piano house followed by that wonderful Acid Sound that I absolutely adore.

Outside in the “food court” there is a small selection of vendors, with a choice of Smash Burgers, Korean Chicken/Bao Buns and Greek Gyros along with a coffee tent (which unfortunately for me didn’t have any decaff or hot chocolate which would have gone down a treat with how cold it was), all with the sort of price you would expect from an event. The fantastic thing about the location is that all of these are still with sight/clear listening range of the main stage in The Depot with so despite waiting for the food or having a smoke you won’t miss much, and with the addition of the patio heaters was a good place to congregate and chat with each other.

The burger, although nice, wasn’t really worth the £10.90 and the advertised “house sauce” was just bog standard catering sauce. I’m sure drunk me would have appreciated it a lot more.

Back inside now into The Archive now for a glimpse of 808 State doing a DJ set with some more filthy acid house, again drunk me would be all over that dance floor, I couldn’t keep still though, for me it was musical heaven and my feet were moving, especially when they dropped Voodoo Ray and Pacific State, 2 of my all time favourite tunes (my personal highlight of the night).

The Archive is a great room for a rave and, like the rest of the venue, the lighting was brilliant, with a ceiling mounted screen running from the back of the stage to halfway down the tunnel.

As much as it was a struggle to leave the heavenly sounds of the 808 State DJ set it was time to head back to The Depot to catch Jazzie B and crew bring their funk to the glorious venue but it turned out I could have delayed the move a little bit. Although scheduled for 6.30pm Soul ii Soul are late on stage, eventually joining us at roughly 6.50pm which meant a much shorter set than advertised, disappointingly short.

We got 4 songs in the set which included the 2 main staples Keep On Movin’ and Back To Life but also a unique cover of Nothing Compares 2 U, a well done cover at that. But as soon as it had begun it was time for it to end. Still a good performance from Soul ii Soul.

After the set I had time to head back to The Archive to catch the tail end of 808 State and in my absence the tunes had got darker and heavier and those in attendance were still dancing away.

I wanted to head to the “Plant Room” to catch a bit of Mark XTCs DJ Set but getting there proves very difficult Firstly it wasn’t marked on the map that was given at the entrance, so I had to ask a few security guards where to go, luckily they all knew but i found out a lot of forward planning is required if you want to see a particular artist in the Plant Room/Concourse area as the place was rammed to capacity, and even when in the “queue” waiting there was a lot of people pushing in and a fair bit of arrogance came with it. Maybe it was the booze talking for others but it wasn’t very civilised. 

Eventually, after a bit of persistent waiting and navigating the maze of bodies in The Concourse i was finally in the Plant Room and it is heaving, with bodys jiggling about to some old school. With the type of building I was expecting the Plant Room to be named such as it would be another dark, dingy room where originally the plant for the machinery of the past was located but I was totally wrong.

It was, in fact, more like a conservatory filled with actual plants and bars/DJ Booth made from, what seemed to be, sheds. A much different vibe and a fun setting but as I said before it was heaving. Everyone was in high spirits though and when notable tunes like Move Your Body and Man With A Red Face were dropped the dancers went mental. For sober me though it was a bit too packed so I went back to The Depot to await Ian Brown coming on stage.

Back into the main room the theme of music had changed to more Madchester songs, and when Electronic – Getting Away With It came on it gave me goosebumps, i LOVE that tune and to hear the masses in such a big space singing with all their hearts too it it was magical. I swear the DJ played it twice because of this.

Ian Brown comes on to the loudest reception tonight, loved by many the depot was packed, the biggest crowd of the night for his performance. Much like his latest tour Ian was the only one gracing the stage, just him, a mic and the backing tracks, which has been criticized by many but from a business point of view you could see where it makes sense, stripped down touring costs, logistics etc but it comes with a price where things seem regimental, there is no variation on the tracks, no big endings or extended sections, it’s the tracks as heard on the albums.

Some will say it’s a good thing, some will say it’s a bad thing, but it’s Ian’s choice, he makes it work and people will still go to see him. A few songs were restarted for some reason, was difficult to see or hear why from the back, and he certainly knows how to grace a stage and fill it out for one person, but for me personally it was lacking that certain something.

The set included the likes of Be There, Set My Baby Free, First World Problems and finished with my favourite F.E.A.R. A great effort from Ian but for me personally it fell a bit short of the mark, I’m just glad I have seen Ian with The Stone Roses at the Ethiad Stadium some years back.

Jon Dasilva came on to do a short warm up set for the next act of the night Inner City. I managed to get to the front for this one. I was looking forward to this and what a set it was. Very energetic, filled with powerful vocals, thumping beats and thick bass lines.

The Singer was putting on a great show, really owning the stage. Again great lighting and songs in the set inculded No More Looking Back, Living In A Dream, Big Fun and Good Life. Great crowd reception for them.

It was, unfortunately, time for me to leave having a long journey back (the weather was turning and I had the most horrendous drive back down the M6 with snow actually an inch thick covering all lane markings) so as sad as I was to cut my night short it was the right decision for me but it did mean I missed seeing Leftfield.

All in all it was a fantastic night and I can honestly say the venue itself is now my favourite big venue, and the team behind the Warehouse Project did a fantastic job, so much so I am 100% going back next year but this time booking a hotel and making the full night.

Lots to see and do, reasonably priced drinks, great setting, great music, great people, really enjoyable. Let’s hope next year we get a performance from the Queen Of Manchester Rowetta.

Words: Mark Allen / Pictures: @gemmaparkerphotography