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Nick Cave and The Birthday Party shred through 'Release The Bats' at The Hacienda, 1982


Nick Cave and his fiery band The Birthday Party arrived on British shores in 1980 in a blaze of punk-drenched glory. They instantly connected with the feverish youth movement in Manchester and their performance at the city’s legendary superclub The Hacienda sees those moments in full colour.

The footage below sees the band in hot form as Cave prowls the stage and his band prove a scything blade capable of cutting any crowd in half. The Birthday Party were a force to be reckoned with.

The crowd welcome the wild-haired Cave as he takes his rightful place under the shabby lighting of Tony Wilson’s superclub The Hacienda. The club, unlike most venues at the time, was an advocator of videotaping every act that crossed its stage. It meant that part-owners New Order were often caught in its lights.

In 1982, following John Peel’s hearty endorsement and the band’s powerful self-titled debut and Prayers On Fire, The Birthday Party were the talk of the town. The intensity of punk had begun to be twisted in new directions and the foundations of steely post-punk was being smelted in the city of Manchester.

While Cave and the band had made the big move from Melbourne to the capital London, in Manchester the act had a particularly fierce following. The group did not disappoint when they arrived at the Hacienda and though Cave may well be the star of the band, the group provide a severity that announced the band are violent yet essential.

In the video below we see Cave on fire but possibly a little upstaged by his band. With Tracy Pew slamming basslines against his crotch, Roland Howard’s guitar acting like a crossbow and Mick Harvey dishing out death stares for anyone who peers his way, it makes for a blissful moment of dark, sweet and smoky rock and roll.

The set sees the band perform a range of hits that would eventually define the band as the integral fulcrum of post-punk, but our favourite performance is of their iconic live smash ‘Release The Bats’, a song that typified the growing gothic rock movement the band spearheaded.

So sit back and watch the moment Nick Cave and his band The Birthday Party took to the Hacienda stage to perform a scintillating set. Here we reflect on the moment the band released the bats on Manchester.