It was a genuinely impressive sight, watching Manchester’s Hacienda Classical work their way onto the stage on the Saturday night of Bristol Sounds. It took a while for the 40-piece orchestra to find their seats and the crowd’s anticipation and excitement only grew as the orchestra slowly took shape in Bristol’s Lloyds Amphitheatre.

The orchestra is a fantastically experimental collaboration between former Hacienda club DJs Mike Pickering and Graeme Park. The project takes the biggest acid house anthems and Madchester rave hits of the 80s and 90s that were once played in Manchester’s legendary Hacienda nightclub, and recreates them with an orchestra and some special guest vocalists. Simple, right?Hacienda Classical, Bristol SoundsHacienda Classical, Bristol Sounds

The orchestra took us on a journey through the club’s 15 years of dominating the Manchester club scene. Straight from their Glastonbury debut the night before, where they had the honour of opening the Pyramid Stage, the orchestra was already well warmed up.

Straight from their Glastonbury debut the night before… the orchestra was already well warmed up

Admittedly, master of ceremonies MC Tunes’ introduction erred on the side of unintelligible (but maybe that’s just because I don’t speak Mancunian), but the crowd got the gist eventually. There was an enthusiasm being belted off the stage from the get go that didn’t allow you to become complacent to the massive and emotional sounds coming from the orchestra-DJ combo, and how great it all sounded. Credit where credit’s due: Bristol Sounds played up to its name.

Hacienda Classical, Bristol SoundsHacienda Classical, Bristol Sounds

Rattling off tracks such as D Mob’s We Call it Acieed, Inner City’s Big Fun and Black Box’s Ride On Time, the orchestra put a smile on every single face in the crowd. It was a smaller crowd than some of the other Bristol Sounds gigs, but this didn’t mean the night lacked in enthusiasm. Hacienda Classical did the songs justice and the crowd retaliated with no holds barred dancing,¬†singing and waving their arms in the air.

Motivated by MC Tunes and his gold-chain-wearing antics, the crowd couldn’t take their eyes off the stage, and it was a rare occasion where a sip of a drink or a spark of a rollie took precedence over the classic hand-in-air stance.

Graeme Park took charge of vocals for New Order’s Blue Monday instead of Peter Hook (who seemed to be missing in action) and he wasn’t half bad. Other crowd pleasers included Derrick May’s Strings of life and Orbital’s Chime, and while some of the crowd didn’t quite recognise all the classically reworked songs (guilty), they ultimately caught on once the songs hit their chorus.

it was a rare occasion where a sip of the drink or a spark of the rollie took precedence over the classic hand-in-air stance

Rowetta walked on stage for the night’s encore of Candi Staton’s You Got the Love. What an ending to an incredible evening; bucket hats pointed up and lighters above heads, it was a great rendition. With the rain holding off, it was impossible not to smile throughout the entire thing, getting a real sense of the euphoria felt in Manchester’s acid house institution in its heyday. All in all, it was 90 minutes of optimistic ecstasy, courtesy of the amazing Hacienda Classical.

Hacienda Classical, Bristol Sounds