Rave On | Peter Walsh’s Images of a Youth Revolution.

By Paul Wright

Growing up in Manchester I became aware of Peter Walsh’s images when he was a photographer for the then essential what’s on guide – City Life Magazine. During his stint at City Life Peter became immersed in Manchester’s club scene and witnessed the UK’s Rave and Acid House explosion. He captured the spirit of the era as he documented the faces, bands and fashions that graced the city.

I caught up with Peter to find out more about about his career ahead of his talk at the V&A as part of events celebrating music and youth culture in the UK.

Temperence Club night at The Hacienda, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh

Peter “I began working as a photographer for a documentary Co-op in Manchester in the mid eighties. I learned how to process films, make contact sheets and black and white printing. The photographers in the Co-op worked individually but would meet once a month to compare and critique each others work and printing skills. The training I received in all aspects of documentary photography during this time would prove invaluable to me as the rave scene hit Manchester just a few years later.”

Temperence Club night  at The Hacienda, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh

“Around the same time I began shooting for City Life, Manchester’s equivalent of Time out in London, photographing the burgeoning club scene. After photographing the Happy Mondays gig on Granada TV’s ‘The Other Side of Midnight’ I was asked to work for NME covering the North of England. I also began working regularly for The Face, ID, Mixmag and Muzik magazine.”

“It was a busy time that saw me working constantly through the night to process films from live gigs, selecting the images from contact sheets and printing and sending the photos off to London Euston to meet The NME’s weekly deadline. After a few hours sleep I was usually back in the studio, shooting another band for a feature.”

Happy Mondays on The Other Side of Midnight, Granada Studios, Manchester, 1989.
Photo © Peter J Walsh

As a photographer Peter would ago out into the city and document what was happening around Manchester. Nights at The Hacienda including ‘Hot’ and ‘The Temperance Club’, a student night on Thursdays which fused indie, disco and house music. As acid house exploded he knew that Manchester and The Hacienda were at the epicentre of a cultural movement. Aside from documenting club culture in the city he also took photos of the many bands that helped define the Madchester scene. 

The Hacienda, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh
The queue at The Hacienda, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh

The rave generation, Madchester, whatever you want to call it, it was a revolutionary time in musical and British cultural history. On the back of an economically challenging decade and before the onset of mobile phones and the internet, it united a generation. Ecstasy and music brought young people together, friendships were made, ideas were created. All walks of life, from single mums, students, council workers and football hooligans, in that time, in that short lived era, they all came together and embraced the music.


Joy rave at Ashworth Valley, Rochdale,  1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh
Hot at The Hacienda, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh
The Hacienda dance floor. Photo © Peter J Walsh
A Guy Called Gerald and Graham Massey (808 State) on The Other Side Of Midnight, Victoria Baths, 1988. Photo © Peter J Walsh
Dance floor at The Boardwalk Manchester, 1991.
Dance floor at The Boardwalk, Manchester, 1991.
Baggy Fashions, Oldham Street, Manchester. Photo © Peter J Walsh
Tony Wilson with architect an Hacienda interior designer Ben Kelly, 1988.  Photo © Peter J Walsh
Happy Mondays Bez and Paul Davis (PD) with Tony Wilson at The Hacienda.  Photo © Peter J Walsh

The Hacienda dance floor, 1988. Photo © Peter J Walsh

Bobby Gillespie on stage with Primal Scream at The Hacienda. Photo © Peter J Walsh

You can buy prints of the above and many more iconic images directly from Peter here

Peter’s Website: http://peterjwalsh.com

All above images used with the kind permission of Peter J Walsh. 

Article by Paul Wright for British Culture Archive

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