‘A city with so much collective talent’: Manchester’s rock icons go on display at Central Library

A free exhibition is taking place celebrating Manchester’s rock music legends from the dawn of punk to present day.

Starting on Thursday, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ includes iconic rare images of the likes of Buzzcocks, Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses.

The exhibition, presented by Rockarchive.com, has been curated by the founder of Rockarchive Jill Furmanovsky and the music writer Jon Savage.

It shows the punk era of the late 1970s as its starting point, moving on through the Factory Records and Madchester years, through the rise of Oasis in the mid-1990s.

“When my ‘Oasis:DNA’ exhibition finished showing at Central Library in 2017, the idea of a wider Manchester rock music exhibition seemed a natural follow-up,” said Furmanovsky, who took the iconic snap above of Buzzcocks in 1977.

“We decided to concentrate on the gritty images of those bands and musicians whose music is so deeply rooted in Manchester that you can’t imagine rock music, or in the city itself, being the same without their contribution.

“So long is the reach of the city’s collective musical talent, we could have created an exhibition twice the size of this one.”

Famous events like the Sex Pistols playing a legendary gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976 – and the Buzzcocks independently releasing ‘Spiral Scratch’ in 1977 – meant it was only right to commemorate with an exhibition celebrating Manchester’s music history.

The images for the exhibition were taken by some of UK’s biggest and best music photographers, including Furmanovsky, Kevin Cummins, Paul Slattery, Steve Double, Peter Walsh, Pennie Smith and Howard Barlow.

The photographers have used their images and displayed them on a wall dedicated to artists from Manchester. The display includes shots of Bugzy Malone, The Courteeners, Elbow, Children of Zeus, Pins, Hurts, Pale waves, Chemical Brothers, The Fall, Happy Mondays, 808 State and many more.

An image taken at the One Love Manchester Concert is also included, plus another from Noel Gallagher’s fundraising performance.

Furmanovsky offered some valuable insight into the shot she took in the 1970s of Buzzcocks.

“It was a typical music press type shoot. No assistants no lighting. Just me and the band with their press officer, in this case supremo, Alan Edwards, walking about, stopping to take pictures by road signs, street art, in a fish and chip shop, on a climbing frame in a children’s playground, and finally in a local library where the band stood in front of two bookshelves labelled Fiction and Romance.  

“As scholars of punk will know, there is a Buzzcocks song of that name. The question that has still not been answered definitively, not even by the band themselves, is which came first, the picture or the song? I still maintain the picture came first…” 

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