Howard Donald, The Squatters & Co @ Venus Nightclub Manchester, June 2012
When we heard that former boyband heart-throb turned superstar DJ, Howard Donald, would be headlining one of Manchester’s best night spots, an unusual series of thoughts ran through our heads. Yes, Howard is an incredible DJ talent and would bring his Ibiza residencies and years of experience to Venus but merely the fact that he was a part of one of the biggest pop bands in history added a little twist to the mix. For the first time in a while, we genuinely didn’t know what to expect from a Manchester club night but Venus never seems to disappoint, we knew the music would be insane and the atmosphere is always electric but would the club be swamped with “teeny-boppers”, screaming for Howard or would the music speak for itself and set the stage for a memorable night in the city?
We took with us a good friend of Dance Music Manchester’s, who happened to be not only a huge fan of Take That / Howard’s smile but also an incredible source of knowledge when it comes to house / dance music. We think it was a good call as we wanted an honest, open opinion of the gig, from both sides of the equation. When we arrived, the back room was already heaving, with Venus favourites Martyn Russo and Paul Nag taking charge B2B. Having a change of scenary for the night, from his usual spot in the main room and at an earlier time was a cool move for Russo, showing his diversity and knowledge of the crowd and alongside Mr Nagington, the tunes were rocking all over the place. This needs to be a more frequent occurrence as the crowd, full of young ladies in pretty dresses and handbags, loved it. Russo switched his usual #filth (yes we hashtag in articles now, get over it) that we know and love for a more vocal, summery upbeat and happy array of tuneage and the duo seemed to, as we say a lot recently, smash it. I have to admit, our hips were definitely shaking for a good couple of hours before we headed into the front room, a very vibrant, happy and fun start to our night, thanks to Paul / Martyn!
When we first head into the main room, Alex Powell, 1/2 of The Squatters, was tearing it up with a very, “Bitch-esque”, sound, teasing the club with sly-hints of his next tunes. Another great performer from the weekend, dancing in the booth and pulling some brilliant faces for the cameras, a really cool, friendly performance, interacting well with the crowd and reading it like a book. You’re always welcome in Manchester Mr. Powell!
We just so happened to be at the front of the club, for a change, when the headliner was escorted in by security staff, managers and more, purely to stop him being mobbed by the idolising fans surging forward. Now, we guessed right about a slight change in the dynamics of the crowd, there were quite a few fanatics that were at the club purely to see 1/5 of Take That and they did seem to take over the front of the floor. Did this stop us from partying? Hell no. In fact a mini dance off started right in the middle of the club in true DMM style, with a fair few random raver’s joining in with the party. One thing we enjoy at Venus is just that. People tend to be your friend, whether you know them or not, united by the love of good music and banter.
When Howard hit the decks, he did just that. With a bang. A surprisingly dirty, deep but melodic set, a billion miles away from his Take That days, proving his credibility in the scene. Unsurprisingly, some of the “fanatics” at the front, were more interested in touching their hero than actually listening to his set but that was just a select few. From the booth to the middle bar, Venus partied, with DMM spending a little too much time on the podium dancing!
Unfortunately (and unusually), we had to head home at about 430am but that was no reflection on the night. Everyone, from the fanatics to the regulars, seemed jubilant on this Jubilee Sunday, with the club and the DJs being the source of this Jubilation. As always, thanks to Venus Nightclub, the DJs and all those involved in another great night.
For those wanting to check out the Venus atmosphere and scene this weekend, this Saturday plays host to the awesome Jon Fitz, supported by residents Frater & Stent. Tickets from £5 for earlybirds, on the Venus website!
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