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Joy Division artwork
Photograph: Shutterstock

This Manchester exhibition digs deep into the roots of Factory Records

The Museum of Science and Industry is launching a new show on the history of the label that gave us Joy Division and New Order

Rob Martin
Written by
Rob Martin

Tony Wilson, king of the Manc music scene, famously said of his city: ‘This is Manchester – we do things differently here.’ Listen to any of the music his record label, Factory, put out in the later decades of the twentieth century, and you’d struggle to disagree.

But while we all got a little bit obsessed with ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ in the first year of uni – and all know the basic outline of the Joy Division story – the evolution of Factory Records itself is told less often.

That’s where a new exhibition at Manchester’s excellent Museum of Science and Industry comes in. ‘Use Hearing Protection: The Early Years of Factory Records’ aims to document the imprint’s lesser-known early period from 1978 to 1982 – through artefacts, photographs and interactive exhibits.

The Factory team catalogued everything they did, in whatever form, sequentially – which is why the Hacienda club was FAC 51. This exhibition displays rarely seen items one to 50, including early designs by the legendary Peter Saville, along with assorted Joy Division, New Order and Durutti Column paraphernalia.

Bring along your own Bluetooth headphones, and you’ll be able to listen iconic tracks from across the label’s back catalogue. And there’ll also be an on-site recreation of The Factory club night at the Russell Club. Sounds like the ideal way to let loose after a year of lockdowns. 

‘Use Hearing Protection: The Early Years of Factory Records’ at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester. Saturday June 19 2021–Monday January 3 2022. Tickets £8.

Want to make a trip of it? Here’s our pick of the 22 absolute best things to do in Manchester right now.

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