Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Last Rites

Last Rites was borne out of a simple post on the sadly defunct Electriks forum by Gareth Shiells asking if anyone was interested in starting a club night. That post stirred the beast in Paul Hughes, Juliet Shaw and myself who replied immediately and together we formed the original team behind Last Rites with Paul Hemmingfield being kind enough to do the artwork and the visuals for us for free in true DiY acid house spirit. Gareth said that he knew the perfect venue for the pre-party and it was on a rainy night that a group of us got together and headed down to Font Bar on New Wakefield street, thankfully only a short drunken stumble from the Music Box, to have a look and five or six pints later the deal to use the venue was sealed and our outpost was set up.

Gareth Shiells and Paul Hughes

Last Rites was never intended to be a money-making endeavor nor a place that relied on known DJs but rather a free party that was open to anyone who was a forum member to come down and play a few regardless of whether they had done so before. No bullshit, no gimmicks just an excuse to get warmed-up with a bit of a boogie and indeed some woogie before the carnage ahead at the Electric Chair.

Hughesy and Gareth's banner

On the opening night the guest DJs were Balearic Mike, Dan Bowman and Mat Hoods who alongside residents Paul Hughes, Gareth Shiells and myself (Juliet Shaw wasn’t a DJ at this point) set the good ship Last Rites on its course through balearicfunksouljazzhousetechnowhatever waters. The spirit of community was firmly in place when Gareth arrived with two banners bearing the word Last Rites that made us look far more professional than we were and with Peroni as our new chosen tipple of choice we drank, danced and laughed our way through well over 80 bottles on the opening night and one of us, not naming names here, even made the dramatic ‘fall down the steps in the Music Box’ entrance made famous by Mos Gef a few months later. A great night and one that had all of us excited for what lay ahead.

Balearic Mike and Dan 'Mr Heavy' Bowman

Typically restrained Hughesy

Danny Zeit with the secret Santa CDs

With support coming from Electriks the night was officially made the Electriks pre-party and after a few months of rip-roaring end of the month shenanigans in the disco den at Font, some of which turned into hands in the air smile-a-thons, in June 2006 Paul Hughes, Gareth Shiells and myself were asked to do warm-up duty in the Shack and by the time Paul had done his warm-up-not-warm-up Ben Potato was on the podium with a host of other familiar faces going absolutely radio rental and it wasn’t even 12 yet. Typical Last Rites in all truth.

Gareth and myself warming things up in the Shack

Gareth and Paul

Ben and Lee giving it horns

The BBQs were where Last Rites really took shape. Juliet and Paul punted the idea to Tim Ellis proprietor of The Salutation in Hulme that a disco in a pub was a good idea and Tim being the good egg that he is was more than up for the idea even going as far as supplying the soundsystem which I may or may not have blown in a fit of overexcitedness on occasion.

Nao asking me to play more J Rocc probably

The first BBQ is probably best remembered for the debut of Juliet behind the decks who after a very brief tutorial from yours truly played a set that had everyone up and off their feet by 7pm with an inspired selection of a Ten City tune that had the first of many 'I fookin' love this one' shouts coming from the forum heads, not a bad start, eh? The night was capped off with a fine set by a typically inebriated Paul Hughes that culminated in the Todd Terje re-edit of Michael Jackson’s ‘Can’t Help It’ and had everyone dancing in a tiny courtyard like it was the main floor of the Music Box. New friendships were cemented that night under Mancunian skies behind the Sally.

Gareth, Juliet and myself

With Last Rites never being about the people who ran it but being vehemently inclusive of everyone to create a family atmosphere, by the third BBQ the idea was to have people pair up with like-minded souls to lay down an hour of music from 2pm until midnight. With rain forcing the music indoors, we knew we were off to a good start when Birdy and Babe both of whom had never DJ’d before kicked the day off with a selection that had quite a few of us dancing our socks off at 2:30pm with Babe winning tune of the day for her inspired 4Hero choice. Superb stuff. The day also saw the debuts of Andy Parmavee and John Trailer Trash both of whom played records that had me scrambling to find out what they were and me convincing John that he was my new favourite DJ, which he still is. The Tangerine Dream marathon from Paul Hemo and Duncan Diablo sadly/thankfully never materialized and by the end of the night we had heard music from all for corners of the record shop including Steven McNulty’s inspired selections as well having a memorable live Lily Allen-inspired piece from the lovely Potatoes that had everyone singing along…even a few of the locals. A special word of thanks must go to Adam and Ema who went way beyond the call of duty by getting a taxi back home and back just so that some more killer cuts could be aired.

Birdy and Joanne (BABE)

Gareth & Trailer Trash

Duncan & Hemo

Last Rites continued to go from strength to strength over the coming months with many a great night down in the disco den, a Christmas party with carol singing lead by Elisabeth as well as guest spots at parties around Manchester and beyond making us as a collective known in the city. Word was getting out.

Jo & Chris playing another one of their bananas yet brilliant sets

Last Rites culminated in November 2007 with a guest slot all-night in the Shack where the forum all-stars took the roof off with a bare-knuckle ride through heavy hitters with typical smiles all around and hugs aplenty. It seemed fitting to call time on Last Rites at this incredibly high point with the Chair just a few months from closing. Watch this space though as with a new message board filled with old and new friends alike there may just be life in this old dog yet.

Last Rites is for the people by the people and has always been about getting a community of like-minded people together to do nothing more than have a good time and play records that uplift the soul surrounded by people that have grown to love and admire each other. Without Last Rites there wouldn’t be any Kumo, there wouldn’t be any The Bears Upstairs, there certainly wouldn’t be the myriad of nights that have found a home in a pub in deepest darkest Hulme.

Long live Last Rites and all who sailed with her.

Last Rites All-Stars Live In The Shack @ The Electric Chair, November 2007 part 1, download it here.

Last Rites All-Stars Live In The Shack @ The Electric Chair, November 2007 part 2, download it here.

Last Rites All-Stars Live In The Shack @ The Electric Chair, November 2007, part 3, download it here.

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