But according to leading Manchester graphic designer Jim Adams, of Adams Graphic Design, it’s not all about the music.
“Madchester really put Manchester on the map and that era really fed through into the decades that followed with the likes of Oasis, Doves and The Chemical Brothers all taking inspiration from it,” said Jim. “But the music – great as it was – was only one aspect of a scene which also encompassed fashion and design, making it a real creative movement.
“Now, over 20 years on, with bands such as The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets and New Order – minus Peter Hook – back performing live and writing new music, there’s a real sense that ‘Madchester: The Second Coming’ is going to put the city in the spotlight once again.”
Manchester has a long and rich creative history, from renowned artist L.S. Lowry to the Turner Prize-winning Chris Ofili, Victorian writer Elizabeth Gaskell to A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess.
In terms of music, the UK’s ‘second city’ has also spawned acclaimed bands such as The Hollies, The Smiths, Buzzcocks, James and New Order. Undoubtedly an impressive roll call when considered in isolation, however when both music and design combined throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s, Manchester really found its voice and style.
“As a graphic designer in Manchester some of the iconography coming out of the city during that period was simply stunning, with Factory Records, the Hacienda and the creativity of the bands themselves really at the heart of it,” added Jim. “Peter Saville in particular was a prolific graphic designer who designed many record sleeves for Joy Division and New Order, before going on to work for Roxy Music, Suede and Pulp.
“His own unique take on Modernism and treatment of typography really got people seeing record sleeves as a work of art and not just a means to store vinyl. Then, later in the decade there was of course The Stone Roses’ obvious fascination with the work of US artist Jackson Pollock, with guitarist John Squire often creating pastiches of his work on their album covers.”
But what of the 2012 version of ‘baggy’? Will today’s youth be equally stimulated by some middle-aged rockers? Is the reformation of these bands purely motivated by financial need or is it ‘all about the music?’
According to Councillor Mike Amesbury, Manchester City Council’s executive member for culture and leisure, the band members aren’t the only ones to expect rich rewards with the city itself expecting an economic boost on the back of all the hype.
He said: “The Stone Roses are Manchester legends and the entire city is buzzing with the news they’re getting back together. People who know the history of the band wouldn’t have thought it possible and fans will be beside themselves with excitement.”
But for graphic designer Jim, he’s hoping that Madchester reborn isn’t just about the bands and the city counting the takings at the end of the day:
“The original Madchester era resulted in some amazing music, great design and iconic imagery that has really stood the test of time and designers like myself look back on it with great fondness and appreciation,” he said. “It would be sad if it was nothing more than a money-making venture and the likes of New Order and The Stone Roses can tap back in to what made them unique in the first place and translate that through to 2012. Reunions aren’t always that successful so I just hope, for Manchester’s sake, that this one is.”
The summer of love is coming again to Manchester in 2012. But what do we make of it here in Manchester?