You can’t miss Salford University’s glass fronted, so Sixties, Maxwell Hall on the Crescent. Originally the private residence of the Maxwell family in the 1800s, it was first converted into a public space in the early 1900s before getting a complete transformation in 1960, becoming the centre of all music gigs in the city right up until the late Eighties.
Everyone played here, from Blondie to U2 to Paul McCartney and a fresh Black Sabbath doing a support act. Virtually every known Salford band has also played here, from The Buzzcocks to Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays and The Fall. In 1986 The Smiths played Maxwell Hall in what has been said to be one of the best ten gigs of all time. The Smiths’ drummer, Mike Joyce recalls “It was completely covered with people on the stage…it was so packed people couldn’t even move…I think Morrissey chanted ‘Salford, Salford’ – which is an unusual thing for him to do as he was a Manchester lad…it was like we had come home…Even though it wasn’t our city…”
Now the Hall is about to undergo another makeover which it is hoped will bring back the glory days of the venue…
Here’s a review of New Order taken from the archive of University of Salford student newspaper from 1985. They put on a ‘pleasing performance’, while support band Happy Mondays were ‘instantly forgettable’!
Back in the post punk days, Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner were kids trying to get into Maxwell Hall gigs by getting students to sign them in but no-one would do it as they looked punkish… “It was weird because we watched more bands from outside the window than we did inside.”
Later, Hooky came back as a star with Joy Division in 1978 and New Order in 1985… “I enjoyed it in a very nice and natural way” he adds “I remember we went to Japan straight after, so it looks good in the books…Salford…Tokyo…In this area Maxwell Hall was the only place where you could go to see decent bands…” New Order, of course, went onto sell tons of records and play huge stadiums…