Manchester is a city in England. It began as a Roman colony called Mancunium, which is why people from Manchester are called Mancunians. It was to industry what the Tigress and Euphrates were to civilization: the very cradle. Modern factory was born in Manchester; modern world was born in Manchester. Engels met Marx in Manchester.
It used to be rougher. Everywhere used to be rougher, but Manchester was a hard town. Good music comes from hard towns. Herman’s Hermits, and Freddie and the Dreamers, and The Hollies. The Fall and The Buzzcocks. The Bee Gees were from Australia, but they got their start in Manchester. Tony Wilson started Factory Records in Manchester after seeing the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, which was next door to the venue where Dylan got called a Judas. Factory signed Joy Division, and A Certain Ratio, and The Smiths. Then there was the Hacienda Club and Madchester: the Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets and Happy Mondays. Raves were invented in Manchester.
Modern place now, Manchester. Hip, even, and still musical: it’s a city of half-a-million, but with two symphonies, a chamber orchestra, and a philharmonic. The Free Trade Hall is still there, but the big acts play the Manchester Arena. Seats 21,000. The legacy acts slap on grins and run through their old hits for the grown-ups, and the pop stars jump around for the teeny-boppers.
19 children are dead now, probably more by the morning, and no music will play in Manchester tonight. There will be dirges tomorrow.