Reviewed: Metropolis and WAH’s Birthday Party
Having spent the best part of the last ten years as somewhat of a wallflower to The Warehouse Project, it’s always interesting to hear when they’ve got something new up their sleeve. Back in June, we were treated to one of these pieces of interesting news. The announcement was that the disused Mayfield Depot, where I’d once hopped a fence to explore many years ago; was being developed into a new music venue. There was nothing short of sheer excitement running through my veins but I’d be lying if I said I expected it to be the monster it truly is today.
The Depot at Mayfield had been born. The space was a huge disused railway depot, lying dormant since the 60s; anyone who has visited Manchester will have seen the huge shell of a building sat next Piccadilly train station; but these changes, turning it into a one of a kind space for the arts; was something the city has deserved for years, especially one so close to its centre.
Tonight was my time to experience the Depot at Mayfield firsthand, and having missed out on the opening with Aphex Twin – I was beyond excited.
The prospect of seeing Aphex Twin might prick the most refined music lover’s ears, but I’m a little more simple and needed one thing. Drum and Bass; and where else would be able to fulfil such a basic need? None other than stalwart brands, Metropolis and WAH’s Birthday Party!
With a line-up of 26 DJs spanning DnB, grime, bass and all that lies between, tonight was a force to be reckoned with; Sir David Rodigan will be gracing the stage, alongside Drum and Bass legends, Danny Byrd and Friction, Jungle ambassador DJ Zinc would be stepping up, but the line-up wasn’t forgetting the local champions such as Mark XTC, Rich Reason and the LEVELZ family. Not forgetting Data Transmission’s close friend Exile.
Like most of my Warehouse Project reviews; it was raining again, but that didn’t stop people being out in their droves to witness the spectacle. When you first arrive at the venue there are some blindingly drastic changes to come to terms with.
This place has efficiency down to a tee; anyone who has visited Printworks in London will know what I mean when it makes a world of difference when the rave doesn’t turn into one massive farcical queue. Albeit we arrived a bit later than the opening time, but to be inside in less than five minutes including all the protocol is impressive. (The bars are super quick too…)
Due to the sheer scale of the venue, it wasn’t the same hustle and bustle you’d see at Store Street, but more like the calmer, cooler and more collected older brother. Everyone had enough space and moving amongst the rooms was done with relative ease.
The “rooms”, better described as three cavernous spaces and aptly named, The Depot, Concourse & Archive providing very different soundtracks to lull you through the evening.
Stepping into the first of these, Archive, we were faced with Levelz. A personal favourite and always providing the vibes to kick things off with an energetic set; Black Josh was storming around and Rich Reason was spinning up, providing the tunes alongside the rest of the crew. Seeing these guys perform is always a laugh so it was safe to say the night was off to a cracking start.
Stepping out into the main corridor space to grab some beers we could hear a familiar sound of shells being dropped. My Nu Leng were providing a heavyweight masterclass in the second space, the main room, the Depot, alongside Dread MC. A combination of bass-heavy tunes and Drum and Bass classics echoed through the vast room, alit on all sides by flashing strobes and mind-bending lasers. Shortly after we entered the main Depot room, unfortunately, their set finished; but stepping up to the plate next, was Holy Goof. Once again keeping the room pumping with heavy bass. It was here we decided to venture out into the outside area and once again the changes were stark. Instead of cramming you in on the curb next to a burger van, outside there was plenty of seating, tucked under the arches next to Grub; with pleasant views across the south of the city, it was a pleasant, albeit unexpected addition.
Finally heading back inside we decided to go and see the final space, the Concourse. Playing was the sensational DnB Duo, Hybrid Minds. They were by far the best set of the evening for me, playing a combination of their trademark liquid sound such as ‘Touch’ with big room stompers like the tune of the moment ‘Your Love’ from Friction and Kanine; truly blowing the roof off the place. Closing with ‘Afterglow’ can never go wrong especially when the whole rooms singing along.
Heading back into the main room we had the end of SASASAS and what can only be described as Jump Up Mecca. Honestly, at this point, I was buzzing with excitement for the closing set, the headliner, Chase and Status.
And they didn’t disappoint. With classic tunes such as ‘No Problem’ being dropped early on in the set it was a magical journey through the history they’ve carved for themselves; with every single tune taking me back to a place when I first heard it; I was truly being taken along for the ride. Some questionable moments did, however, come into the set, my first hearing out of the new Streets and Chris Lorenzo tune being one of them.. (still not sure what to think of it..) but with tunes spanning, ‘More than A lot’, ‘No More Idols’ and ‘Return II Jungle’ it was easy to glance over.
Creating hair raising moments was something of ease. The set was impeccable, and with no better way to end it with ‘Original Nuttah’; celebrating its 25th Anniversary with a remaster. The iconic tune was well received and the chaos and carnage ensued, however, not without the inevitable grins all round.
The Depot at Mayfield has truly changed the musical landscape here in Manchester, and it’s safe to say the for the better. But all I can do now is ponder over how nights in the city will be able to compete; the energy in the venue is something you’ll reminisce over, time and time again. Just like I’ve done over the years here in Manchester.
I leave you with this…
The year is 2017, you’re stood in Warehouse Project beneath Piccadilly train station. It’s sweaty, it’s claustrophobic, you’ve lost your friends; but alas your favourite tune comes on. You feel the energy, close your eyes and you’re teleported to your own magical dreamland, only that dreamland is the Depot at Mayfield.
With plenty more events planned for the rest of this year, we can’t wait to get back to the Depot at Mayfield for more raving in this remarkable space! Be sure to check out the rest of the year’s lineups and grab yourself some tickets here