In a typical '24-hour party people' fashion, The Hacienda took over the city of Leeds on Good Friday with a couple of events that had us partying well into Saturday morning – starting our Easter Weekend off with a bang.
With an orchestral performance taking place at the First Direct Arena as part of the Hacienda Classical tour, Leeds' underground party legends Soak took the opportunity to amalgamate with the legendary FAC51 once again, re-uniting two northern clubbing institutions to present a stunning concert after-party at one of the city's most iconic venues, Church.
Having eagerly anticipated this special event for weeks, we were delighted to enter what was already a boiling pot of party people just after 11:00 pm. Clearly warm and flexed from the classical concert, everyone was diving into a night of delights courtesy of a first class like-up that would enthuse the most avid acid house and techno connoisseurs.
Taking hold of the chancel in the beautiful main room of the church, Francois K was in his element as he wasted no time in delivering an intense set of atmospheric classics mixed with fresh re-edits and recent productions. The spine-tingling vocals of Robert Owens filled the nave, rising high into the rafters as the throbbing undertones of Josh Butler's Origins Remix of 'I'll Be Your Friend' pulsated through the crowd.
With the stunning backdrop of the church's main window illuminated to explode with colour, the atmosphere emanated an electric, industrial feel at this point –the walls drenched in striped yellow light, akin to the trademark FAC51 colour scheme, it remained quite dark down on the dance floor as Denis Naidanow's 'Wonderland' twisted it's way through the thunderous El'Aucoustic sound system to tickle our senses.
Probably one of the most gifted track selectors, and certainly one of the most technically skilled in the industry, Francois K was totally invested in this set, knowing exactly how to draw the crowd right into the music. Fully aware that the congregation would include a diverse crowd from a wide age-group, Francois delivered a multi-genre, cross-generational set of jewels in a manner which kept the energy high and the atmosphere hazy.
'Can You Feel It?' by CLS had the original Hacienda contingent catapulted back to the hedonistic days of their youth, with Red Rack’em’s ‘Wonky Bassline Disco Banger’ keeping things current with a sexy disco edge.
The rest of the set was akin to being dipped head to toe in musical gold leaf, taking us on a tour of everything that influenced the sound and culture conceived from nights at the mighty Hacienda and other pioneering events such as Soak during the 80s and 90s. We heard influences of jazz with Ozugur Uzar’s ‘Crazy Sax’ along with some funk infused sounds throughout ‘Soul Root’s (Original Piano Remix) by Edward’s World which also includes the sampled piano riff created by Marshall Jefferson – a familiar feature and a trademark sound of the early house music scene.
The whole place was lost in music as smoke blasted from the stage, giant inflatable spheres of colour bounced along the waves of the crowd and hands shot up into the air in response to some stunning classics being played in a way that showcased them in exactly the way they deserved to be played – loud, deep and in their entirety.
Hearing Danny Krivit’s re-edit of Soul Central’s ‘Strings of Life’ erupt through the room, sounding sensational, was certainly a highlight of Mr Kevorkian’s set for us – like he’d set off a box of fireworks, it was at this point that things suddenly turned spiritual, with a gospel feel, the crowd lifting each other up in spirit as the sound of the piano bounced off the Gothic architecture like little bubbles of magic. Jumping up and down in unison to the drop, the whole space was alive and the crowd connected.
Similarly, with a wealth of experience and skill between them, Graeme Park and Mike Pickering are total professionals when it comes to stirring up a party with some jaw dropping mixes – in this instance they delivered way beyond some of the more recent sets we’ve heard of theirs, as they fired off exactly as they meant to go on. This was a really happy place to be, as the two Hacienda legends bounced off one another behind the decks, their well established connection evident as they mixed back to back.
Park and Pickering wanted us to party to some mighty melodic tracks, selecting those that some of us hadn't heard through a big pumping sound system for a while. Imagine Buzzin Cuzzins feat. Romanthony's 'Let Me Show You Love' moving over you like an avalanche of acid house, coupled with smoke and the most dazzling light sequence – the whole room erupted in response. The giant balloons were back, bopping up and down across the magnificent heights of this beautiful building.
Heading up to the balcony to observe the shenanigans from above, the view was quite extraordinary. From here it was possible to really take in the beauty of this unique venue. The deconsecrated Trinity St. David's Church is a stunning space – with the recent renovation really converting it into a perfect place for music. Coupling it's natural acoustic dynamics with a magnificent sound installation, the quality of the production behind the scenes was evident as the event unfolding in front of us continued to excel.
Powering on through their set with an insane amount of energy, Park and Pickering threw out a little of Gwen McRae's 'All This Love That I'm Giving' and 'I've Got What You Need' by Powerhouse before the absolute highlight of the night for us in the form of N-Joi's 'Anthem' took the whole thing up another level.
Adventuring around the building, things were getting really intense through in the chapel. Here, the ceiling was low and the atmosphere intimate. Trying to imagine tea, cake and a prayer meeting taking place in this room as part of its past identity was impossible – instead it was a case of people rejoicing to the electrifying sound of 'Blue Monday' – in its full length, being played by New Order bassist himself, Peter Hook. Just for fun, he introduces the infamous Kylie sample over the final few bars which had everyone singing in amusement.
We returned into the main room once more to invest fully in Derrick Carter’s set. He brought to the floor a jacking array of Chicago influenced tracks, and took us deep into the genre of house. The lights dimmed and the atmosphere got darker. Derrick absolutely delivered, embracing the fact that he had free reign to take this set anywhere he wanted it to go – driven by the addictive, classic beats, he kept things bubbling in the main room until the very end. The crowd enthused in response to the heavy
Upon reflection, this was an event that Leeds could be immensely proud of. Soak had totally embraced the opportunity to take even their legendary parties up a notch through this amazing collaboration with FAC51. It was possible to witness the long-standing history between the two events through the medium of the atmosphere generated and the response of the crowd, not to mention the stunning selection of tracks played throughout the night.
Since the recent refurbishment and opening night hosted by Back To Basics, Church has seen the likes of Jamie Jones, Erick Morillo, Sam Divine and Sidney Charles taking control of the decks. Soak can certainly add this event to the already affirmed list of iconic nights at Church and hopefully we will see more from them in the future – things are still going strong for the Leeds based legends, who like the Hacienda, continue to deliver innovative and inspiring underground nights to this day.