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Welcome to the official Distractions website. We will be aiming to record the history of one of the greatest, but least heralded, of all Manchester beat groups.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Live in New York

The Distractions, backstage at Hurrah's, New York, 1980. Adrian Wright, Pip Nicholls, Mike Finney, Arthur Kadmon, Alec Sidebottom.

On 4th and 5th September 1980 The Distractions played at Hurrah's on 36 West 62nd Street on the Upper West Side of Manhatten. Hurrah's is described as one of the epicentres of the movement that saw punk evolve into new wave. Many British bands cut their US teeth at Hurrah's - Simple Minds in '79, XTC, The Specials and The Cure in 1980, and Joy Division were meant to play there on their ill-fated tour which never materialised due to Ian Curtis's suicide. Each of these bands have since cemented their place firmly in musical history.
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By the time of this US visit, Steve Perrin had left the group due to disillusionment with touring and the music business in general. As Mike Finney explains before one song, "we used to have a chap called Steve who left and we got him", pointing at the new guitarist, Arthur Kadmon, previously of Manicured Noise and a founder member of Ludus. The well documented problems the band were having with Island Records were mentioned during the gig as well: "This one's on an LP you can't buy because Island haven't released it, but never mind, it's jolly good".
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Several unrelased tracks were aired at the Thursday night gig - Something New, Aspirin And Aftershave ("about suicide", Finney informs the audience!), In The Night-Time, Nothing Lasts ("a song about Manchester"), and the set finished with a cover of Roxy Music's Re-make/Re-model.
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The Thursday night set list:
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1. It Doesn't Bother Me
2. Something For The Weekend
3. Something New
4. Aspirin And Aftershave
5. (Stuck In A) Fantasy
6. Still It Doesn't Ring
7. Boys Cry
8. What's The Use
9. Good Girls Don't Get To Paris
10. In The Night-Time
11. Nothing
12. Louise
13. Nothing Lasts
14. Time Goes By So Slow
15. Waiting For Lorraine
16. Sick And Tired
17. Valerie
18. Maybe It's Love
19. Re-make/Re-model
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A nice little review appeared in the New York Times on 7th September.
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Pop Rock: The Distractions
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Manchester, England, has been producing some challenging new rock bands lately. Joy Division was the most serious and gloomy; The Distractions, who were at Hurrah last Thursday and Friday nights, are closer to the mainstream of English pop-rock, but they are distinctive stylists and, underneath their often humorous surface, serious. Manchester must be a serious place.
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Mike Finney, the lead singer, looks more like a banker than a rock singer, and the bands two guitarists, bassist and drummer look similarly mis-matched. The Distractions manage to paint some interesting pictures of their hometown, describe situations that range from romantic to painfully funny to disturbing, and interact on stage in an intense but convivial manner while conveying the visual impression that they just met in a park or a pub. But their sound is tight and brittle. They write within conventional pop-song structures without cloying sweetness, and without the fashionable angst that seems to be the emotional staple of so many new bands.
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Mr. Finney may not look like a singer, but he actually sings; he employs a variety of vocal timbres and phrases confidently. The Distractions deliver the goods and could do well in America, though how well they'll do, given the conservative, recessionary aspects of the American music business, is impossible to predict.
- Robert Palmer
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An intruiging flyer for Hurrah's on the New York City Stories blog shows a "Factory Video Night" on 18th August 1980 featuring videos of Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, Bob (Vinny?) Reilly and Section 25. Just a couple of weeks after The Distractions played Hurrah's their former label mates and pals New Order appeared, only a few months after Curtis's death.

New Order, Hurrah's, 29th September 1980. (c) Getty Images.

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