Madonna's first UK performance, The Hacienda, Manchester


In the eighties when Madonna started releasing hits I wondered what her real name was. I thought it hid a plainer name but I found she really was called Madonna. Who’d have thought she’d have become so popular? Here I am in Manchester outside the building where the famous Hacienda Club once stood. Madonna did her first ever UK concert here in January 1984. It was broadcast live on a weekly programme called The Tube. I can't remember seeing it though I watched The Tube as it was slightly edgy and stuff went wrong sometimes. The presenters Jools Holland and Paula Yates were often shoddy and didn’t seem to care about being glossy (part of the attraction.)


Madonna was 23 years old and unknown in the UK when she performed here. She’d had one hit called Holiday but it had hardly scratched the charts. The performance gave no pointers to the global star she was become over the next decade. She was just one act of many on the bill that day (along with the little-known Morrissey.) She didn't even sing - she mimed and danced to two songs Burning Up and Holiday.  She didn’t return to do a concert in the UK for another twenty years - this time at the huge arena for the opening leg of her Re:Invention tour (she was due in 2009 for her Sticky And Sweet tour but cancelled it due to illness.)


The link to the performance is below. She performs with two other dancers on the dance floor rather than on the stage. Even though Holiday is a bouncy number the audience hardly moved and looked bored (note the we're-not-impressed folded arms.) Mainstream dance pop music wasn’t their bag and her name wasn't on the entry ticket.

I had a walk around the building which now houses luxury apartments. A young man with Oriental looks was taking photos about 50m away. We just nodded to one another. I thought just how far Madonna had gone since the performance here (I read she was paid just £50 (now charges £6m for an intimate concert.)) Looking back she was the biggest star who ever performed at The Hacienda. On the day the main performer was Marcel King he died aged 38 of a cerebral haemorrhage. The link to his grave is here:

Madonna herself doesn't remember that day at the Hacienda. Years later when Tony Wilson (Factory Records boss) told her she had played at his club but she gave him an ice-cold stare and said, 'My memory seems to have wiped that.". I did a salute and left.




Wonder if I can touch a bit of history…………………………………………….yes!


Manchester band James played there…


Camera facing the wrong way. It missed seeing the person who stole the sign (note five blobs holes)…



The front and back…