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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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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Tonight belonged to The Distractions

Last year's excellent Friends of Mine - Punk in Manchester 1976-1978 by Martin Ryan covers the period just before The Distractions' debut album. However, it still features the band several times as they supported some notable local bands including Buzzcocks and - as in this extract - The Fall. Buy Martin's highly recommended book direct from the publisher here.

Saturday 21st October 1978

Another date with The Fall, who tonight headed a bill playing a benefit for The Leveller magazine at Manchester Polytechnic. It was also an opportunity to reacquaint  with Jeff Noon who had recently returned from time in London displaying a more luxuriant hairstyle than his former punk look. Jeff had always been a devotee of The Fall and, for his part, Mark E Smith had praised Jeff's fanzine Noisy People suggesting "he should have done another".

Despite their one single release to date, The Fall had developed a level of assuredness where they were not above indulging an audience, they played a set that evolved between their inception and late '78 and would furnish their debut album that appeared early the following year.

But tonight belonged to Stockport's Distractions. Described by Steve Forster of the New Manchester Review as "one of Manchester's best kept secrets" and praised by Mark Smith following a support slot to The Fall at Droylsden's Concorde Suite back in June where Smith suggested the band's set was "primarily covers but delivered with considerable power and prowess".

Here The Distractions played an original set with a strong commercial flavour that may have suggested a recognisable familiarity to Mark Smith's ears. But the factor that set The Distractions' well-crafted pop sound apart was the formidable vocal of singer Mike Finney. Described at the time by Mick Middles in a Sounds review as "a superb rock 'n' roll singer" the sound of Finney's finely-tuned voice resonated around the venue.

Kevin Rowland and Mick Hucknall had both played in punk groups prior to forming bands whose calling card would be soul music. The Distractions should have been ahead of the game having no need to reinvent themselves but sadly the rise to pop stardom never materialised despite the best efforts of the music press.

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