A British music scene that developed out of Manchester, England, during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
At that time, the Haçienda nightclub was a major catalyst for the distinctive musical ethos in the city that was called the Second Summer of Love.
The music scene in Manchester immediately before the Madchester era had been dominated by The Smiths, New Order, and The Fall. These bands were to become a significant influence on the Madchester scene.
The opening of the Haçienda nightclub, an initiative of Factory Records, in May 1982 was also influential in the development of popular culture in Manchester. For the first few years of its life, the club played predominantly club oriented Pop music and hosted gigs from artists including New Order, Cabaret Voltaire, Culture Club, the Thompson Twins and The Smiths. It had DJs such as Hewan Clarke and Greg Wilson and switched focus from being a live venue to being a dance club by 1986. In 1987 the Hacienda started playing house music with DJs Mike Pickering, Graeme Park and "Little" Martin Prendergast hosting the Nude night on Fridays.
The Festival of the Tenth Summer in July 1986, organised by Factory Records, helped to consolidate Manchester's standing as a centre for alternative pop-culture. The festival included film-screenings, a music seminar, art shows and gigs by the city's most prominent bands, including an all-day gig at Manchester G-Mex featuring A Certain Ratio, The Smiths, New Order and The Fall. According to Dave Haslam, the festival demonstrated that "the city had become synonymous with ... larger-than-life characters playing cutting edge music ... Individuals were inspired and the city was energised; of it's [sic] own accord, uncontrolled".
The Haçienda went from making a consistent loss to consistently selling out by early 1987. During 1987, it hosted performances by American house artists including Frankie Knuckles and Adonis. Other clubs in the Manchester area started to catch on to House music including Devilles, Isadora's, Konspiracy, House, Soundgardens and Man Alive in the city centre, Bugsy's in Ashton-under-Lyne and the Osbourne Club in Miles Platting.
Another key factor in the build-up to Madchester was the sudden availability of the drug ecstasy in the city, beginning in 1987 and growing the following year. According to Dave Haslam: "Ecstasy use changed clubs forever; a night at the Haçienda went from being a great night out, to an intense, life changing experience".
By the late 1980s, the British music was symbolised by a robust sound such as a Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet and the Pop music of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. The Guardian stated that "The '80s looked destined to end in musical ignominy". The Madchester movement burgeoned, its sound was new and refreshing and its popularity soon grew. Music by artists such as The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays began to chart highly in 1989 with New Order releasing the Acid House influenced Technique, which topped the UK album charts.
The immediate influence of Madchester was an inspiration to the wider Baggy movement in the UK, with bands from various parts of the country producing music in the early 1990s heavily influenced by the main Madchester players. These bands included Flowered Up (from London), The Farm and The Real People (from Liverpool), The Bridewell Taxis (from Leeds), The Soup Dragons (from Glasgow), Ocean Colour Scene (from Birmingham), Blur, from Colchester, adopted a Baggy style in their early career, although in an interview with Select Magazine in 1991 they claimed to have "killed" the genre.
Bands formed in Manchester during the Madchester era included The Chemical Brothers, The Verve, Sub Sub (who would later become the Doves). More generally, the Madchester scene brought together Electronic Dance Music and Alternative Rock, in particular the combination of the types of drumming found in Funk and Disco music (and sampled in '80s Hip Hop music) with jingle-jangle guitar. In the 1990s, this became a commonplace formula, found frequently in even the most commercial music.
There have been numerous polls in the year following the Madchester movement to find the best song of the era. In 2005, "Voodoo Ray" by A Guy Called Gerald was voted as the best song from the Madchester scene. The song beat "Step On" by the Happy Mondays and "Waterfall" by The Stone Roses for first place.
In 2010, a new nightclub managed by Peter Hook of New Order, FAC251 opened in Manchester, with musical emphasis on Madchester music. Although Madchester faded by the mid-1990s, various bands have reformed for one-off concert tours. Notable bands which reformed in 2012 include The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays and The Inspiral Carpets.
A Guy Called Gerald