Manchester. So much to answer for. Here’s two things for starters – kicking off the Industrial Revolution and redefining the music industry in the 1970s and 80s. Tonight’s event pulls those two disparate factors together by hosting, within the impressive setting of the Museum of Science and Industry a debate about the past, present and future of Manchester Music.

Within the cavernous space of the Turbine Hall, amplified voices bounce around the copper and iron machinery. Billed as a evening of “Stephen Morris & Friends”, the drummer and heartbeat of New Order (SM) is joined by Peter Saville (PS), designer in residence for Factory Records, James Nice (JN) whose label now owns the Factory back catalogue, Manchester club owner and Hacienda disciple Ross Mackenzie (RM) and PR man and media personality Andy Spinoza. (AS) The evening is hosted by Graeme Park (GP), the Hacienda legend who I am proud to include amongst my friends.

It’s a vibrant an engaging debate, which perhaps understandably focuses more on the past, perhaps, than the future. SM reflects that Manchester was a miserable place in the 70s and that affected the musical output. PS adds that Manchester shouldn’t believe its hype – it was indeed gloomy and that atmosphere, manipulated through his dreams, was expressed via the Factory album covers.

Manchester always saw itself as “other” and that was reflected in its interpretation of music and culture – a necessarily DIY ethic. SM distills history down to two simple truths – Factory was set up to bypass London and the Hacienda was established so New Order would have somewhere to go, where people didn’t have to dress up to get down.

AS expands the argument to bring in a political angle; GP argues it was a whole lifestyle and that by buying a record, or going to the Hac, you were buying into that lifestyle; and RM remarks that, from an entrepreneurial angle, Manchester was a good place “to get things done”. Ultimately Factory was, as SM points out, a “shaky construct” and one GP argues “would always end in tears”.

And the future? Is the future, as PS argues, in digital media or – more prosaically – in busking, as SM concludes? Whichever is true, Manchester will always regenerate, like an urbane Dr Who. For instance Factory’s office building will return early in 2010 as a new clubbing force in Manchester called… Factory. You heard it here first, more noise Manchester will ultimately have to answer for…

Simon is a writer, broadcaster and countercultural investigator. Over the last 15 years he has written for everyone from The Guardian to Loaded magazine, presented television for Rapture TV and hosted radio programs for the likes of Galaxy. He has also found time to earn a Masters Degree in Novel Writing and write three books (a collection of journalism, a guidebook to Ibiza and one on financial planning for young people – the most varied publishing career it’s possible to have) and establish and run a PR company, Pad Communications, looking after a range of leisure and lifestyle clients.He currently splits his time between researching his PhD at Leeds University, looking into various countercultural movements; consulting freelance for PR clients; writing for the likes of Marie Claire in Australia, The Big Issue and the Manchester Evening News, where he reviews concerts, theatre and is their Pub & Bar Editor. He is also broadcaster, appearing regularly on Tony Livesey’s late night 5Live show for the BBC, and also for BBC Radio Manchester Gourmet Night food and drink show.Simon’s main focus has been music and travel. His career has included editing Ministry of Sound’s magazine in Ibiza for two summers and also writing two long-running columns for DJmagazine – ”Around The World in 80 Clubs” (which took him everywhere from Beijing to Brazil, Moscow to Marrakech) and “Dispatches From The Wrong Side”. A collection of the latter was published in the UK and US as the book Discombobulated, including tales as varied as gatecrashing Kylie Minogue’s birthday party, getting deported from Russia, having a gun held to his head by celebrity gangster Dave Courtney and going raving in Ibiza with Judith Chalmers. He has recently written for the likes of Red magazine, Hotline, Clash, Tilllate, Shortlist and the Manchester Evening News. Pad Communications has recently consulted for clients as varied as Manchester nightclubs and New Zealand toy companies.On a personal note, Simon is a Londoner who left the capital at the age of 18 and never looked back. He sees himself as a citizen of the global dancefloor having lived in Sydney, Los Angeles, Ibiza and Amsterdam. However his life is now rather more sedentary. After all his adventures he bumped into and subsequently married his highschool sweetheart from their North London Grammar. They now live in Stockport with their four children and four chickens, trying to live the good life. Simon recently turned 40 and is steadfastly refusing to have a midlife crisis – as in, growing a ponytail and buying a shiny red sports car.OK, maybe he’ll buy the sports car…