Every few years, it seems, there's a new article claiming that Manchester's music scene is finally escaping the shadow of Factory, the Hacienda, the Smiths, the Stone Roses et al. The latest, by Davey Brett, was published earlier this month by the Guardian - the paper's Manc roots showing through, perhaps.
The claim (courtesy of a sub-editor rather than Brett himself, I suspect) that the city is "no longer getting lost in nostalgia" is questionable given the recent online kerfuffle over the opening of a Joy Division theme bar - sorry, "love letter to Manchester music" - serving up gyozas and veg skewers under the watchful eye of an Ian Curtis mural. But credit where it's due - Brett makes a compelling case that there's plenty to be excited and brag about in the here and now.
He begins with the bands and artists, naturally (though appears intent on shooting his argument in the foot early doors by mentioning Blossoms), but rightly goes on to spend much of his allotted space making clear that a thriving scene requires much more than merely musicians.
While it sounds as though Manchester's grassroots venues are battling against the same challenges as their counterparts elsewhere in the UK (including here in Cardiff), there are nevertheless new spaces opening up and existing venues developing a loyal fanbase. The Sounds From The Other City festival is a real boon in terms of supporting small-scale promoters and showcasing a diverse array of talent (though I should flag up that the city in question is Salford not Manchester, before someone picks me up on it...), and the existence of local independent radio stations gives artists a stage much bigger than you'd find in your average DIY venue.
The mayor himself, Andy Burnham, has a monthly show on BBC Radio Manchester, and it helps to have friends in high places fighting your corner - especially ones who see themselves as following in Tony Wilson's footsteps. In the light of all the (far from unfounded) doom and gloom about Tory indifference to/assaults on the arts, it's heartening to read about the various schemes and initiatives in place offering financial backing most importantly, but also skills training, workshops, development opportunities, access to studio space and much more.
All of which makes it even more appalling that the council are trying to shut down one of Manchester's most celebrated venues, while having the gall to declare that "[t]he city's music venues are an important part of the fabric of the city, playing a vital role in the night-time economy and in creating opportunities for new artists". The Night & Day may have been granted another stay of execution, but the fact that it remains under serious threat is a counterweight to the general positivity of Brett's piece.