Feature: The Tony Wilson Experience

AS WE approach the first anniversary of Tony Wilson’s death, I thought this might be an appropriate time to publish a longer version of a piece I wrote about the Tony Wilson Experience, a ’24-hour conversation’ organised in Wilson’s memory by his friends.

It took place in Manchester from Saturday to Sunday, from noon on June 21 (the longest day) to noon on June 22, in front of a specially invited audience of young Manchester creatives.

Stupidly, I volunteered to cover the whole thing on my own.

* * *

11.45am: We’re in a white tent that looks like a small big top. The circus is in town.

What will be variously described as ‘a yurt’, ‘Tony’s tepee’, and more properly, ‘Manchester International Festival’s Stephenson Bell pavilion’, has landed next door to Urbis for the Tony Wilson Experience, a non-stop 24-hour marathon of intelligent conversation in honour of the great Salfordian entrepreneur who died just over a year ago.

“The Tony Wilson Experience is for the next generation of creative talent,” say Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese and Peter Saville, the city’s creative director and Wilson’s colleague and friend for many years in the event programme. “We hope it will inspire, stimulate and encourage them and help them to unlock their own creativity an future potential.

“It is our way of paying tribute to Anthony H Wilson.

“A remarkable man”.

A voice bubble saying ‘Reification’ hovers above a couple of Habitat sofas on a small stage. Hacienda-style yellow and black vinyl stripes cover the floor and string quartet Litmus’s gentle reworking of Love Will Tear Us Apart plays over the PA system. I wonder how my backside is going to cope with sitting on these unforgiving wooden seats.

The longest day is about right ..

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

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