Live Review: The Warehouse Project 10th Birthday

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A 10th anniversary celebration should always be a special occasion and the top dogs in the WHP office must have been planning this event for a while. Having been scouting out around Manchester for a new venue to move into for their 12 week winter program, they announced last year that they had found one of their best ever spaces, a stone’s throw away from Piccadilly train station and their spiritual home – Store Street. However, a dispute with a private developer meant they couldn’t use the space on a permanent basis, meaning that the Mayfield Depot would be a one off party before it’s demolition in a few months time.

Their Victoria Warehouse venue in Salford was the biggest club I have ever seen and I didn’t think I would ever see a more jaw dropping location. I was wrong. Stepping into the Mayfield Depot, it struck me as a cross between Store Street and Victoria Warehouse, and the impeccable production values that WHP have consistently delivered were plain to see. A festival sized sound and lighting rig were installed in the cavernous main room that could have hosted more than five thousand people. Room 2 was reminiscent of the main room at Store Street, with a pumping Funktion One rig, intense lighting and the long tunnel style brickwork that became the iconic image of the former venue. With such an impressive set up and location, they needed a line-up to match and the punters certainly weren’t left wanting.

Venturing into Room 2 at 16:30, Mr Ties was halfway through his 3 hour set, building up through slow chuggy numbers before cranking up the intensity in the last hour as the room filled up, delving into the brutal, tear-out warehouse techno he has become revered for. Clearly having great fun with the isolator he had brought with him, he also occasionally picked up the mic to add some spoken word over the top, his set peaking with his remix of Spencer Parker’s ‘Right’s For Men’ . After seeing Space Dimension Controller’s first few tunes, I went to catch the end of DJ Koze’s set, who was playing up to the size of the main room and revelling in it. Bouncing around behind the decks, he built up tension perfectly and kept the crowd moving with his unique brand of emotive tech house, with a notable highlight being the track everyone’s been talking about recently, ‘XTC‘.

A brief pause saw the crowd peter out, and Paranoid London took to the decks. Unfortunately sound issues throughout their set took away the wow-factor, however they delivered an impressive performance, mixing up tracks from their album such as ‘Transmission 5‘ and ‘Eating Glue‘, with live improvised acid jams. All the while their front man -Mulato Pintado, was jumping around like a child who’d eaten too many sweets, constantly telling the audience “You’ve paid for it, now stand up and be counted!” in between his charismatic rhyming over the trio’s gnarly analogue sound. A trip back to Room 2 and Midland was deep in the groove, creatively switching it up from techno to disco with plenty of house and garage swing to boot. Towards the end of his set I went out to catch the remaining 15 minutes of Octave One and my word, I wish I had caught more. Channelling the spirit of Detroit that Robert Hood carries so magnificently in his sets and productions, Octave One were pummelling out huge techno, most of which seemed to be original material from their recent LP, Burn It Down. For a taste of what I experienced at the Mayfield Depot, their recent Boiler Room is a great place to start.

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Through the thick smoke which made it nigh on impossible to see anything apart from the lights in Room 2, I just about made out that Maurice Fulton had arrived. Rocking up to the decks, he just plugged his memory stick in and continued as he was, still wearing his bucket hat and backpack. His eclectic mixing style got the room worked up as he chopped and changed between thumping party house music, his own wigged out acid numbers, and disco classics such as Thelma Houston’s ‘I’m Here Again’. Given the size of the venue and the length of the party, it made for quite a tiring day, so after a quick sit down, it was back to Room 1 where Joy Orbison was showing why he’s the man for any occasion, playing a set of big room techno from the likes of Ben Sims and Rex the Dog, alongside rave classics from the 90’s. By now the bar was heaving and the huge light boxes on the main stage were in full effect as the sun had finally gone down. Kyle Hall rolled up and followed on from the intensity of Joy O’s selections with plenty of acid house, however once he had the crowd where he wanted them, he slowly started to mellow out and moved into some lush soulful house including Moodyman’s remix of Norma Jean Bell.

This gave everyone a chance to breath before the main spectacle of the evening – a rare UK appearance from ‘Mad’ Mike Banks, going b2b with another of Detroit’s finest – Carl Craig. The older crowd were out in force with plenty of Underground Resistance shirts on display, one particular man had come solo all the way from Brighton just to see Mad Mike. They certainly weren’t disappointed, kicking proceedings off at 135bpm they stormed straight into bone shaking techno at breakneck speed. The duo didn’t communicate at all throughout their two hour set, but when you have been in the game for as long as these two, musical intuition transcends verbal communication. Tracks from times old and new were dropped, including Robert Hood’s ‘Analog Track’ and Paul Johnson’s ‘Give Me Ecstacy’.

Krysko and Greg Lord have been faithful servants to WHP since the beginning at Boddington’s Brewery and have cultivated quite a reputation for themselves since 2005. As I dipped back into Room 2 for a final time, they displayed why they have been residents for the club brand for ten years, playing everything from speed garage through to acid house. After having my socks blown off in Room 2 I had my mind blown out by the remainder of Carl Craig and Mike Banks, who had ramped up their game to a phenomenal level. Their last track of the evening – ‘Heart Strings’ by Whyt Noyz, summed up their set perfectly: big room modern techno with a soulful funked out Detroit edge. They bowed out to rapturous applause from the crowd and as I headed back into Manchester city centre, I took some time to reflect on the legacy of WHP.

For all the stick that The Warehouse Project gets for its drink prices and lineups, their 10th birthday party was a celebration of the very best dance music in the world, from the founding fathers all the way through to the most contemporary of artists, and proof that no-one can quite put on a mobile clubbing spectacle in the same way that they can.

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