Friday, July 28, 2023

Andy Burnham on Northern Spin


I had that Andy Burnham on my podcast the other week.

The Greater Manchester Mayor spent a good hour talking politics, sport and culture in a wide ranging interview on the Northern Spin podcast that I do with a small c conservative called Chris Maguire.

But I fluffed my lines.

I was meant to use the opportunity to get a few lines for the Music Therapy show. A few musical tips and to ambush Burnham with a story I’d heard about a nickname he acquired at the South By South West (SXSW) music and technology festival in Austin, Texas a few years ago.

A very reliable informant told me that word had rippled around the festival, amongst women of a certain age and disposition, that the Manchester stand was the place to hang out. 

Not to pick up a brochure on how the city has become a tech hub, but because of the presence of ‘Hottie Mayor” with the big eyelashes and a charming smile.

Getting a selfie with “HM” became the thing.

I’m sharing this with you now, but though it was in my mind when we were doing the interview in the podcast studio, I couldn’t quite find a way to get it into a question.

We did talk about SXSW though, where he was earlier this year too, partly to launch Manchester’s very own music convention later this year - Beyond The Music, the brainchild of Rose Marley and Oliver Wilson, son of the late great Tony Wilson, who’s passing at the age of 57 in August 2007 we still mourn. 

Here’s what he said:  “Does it get any better than introducing New Order from the stage in Austin? 

“I think it is possible because it's actually well documented that South by Southwest took inspiration from In The City, which was a Tony Wilson music conference that ran in the early 2000s.

“Beyond the Music is going to be a parliament for music. It's going to be a sort of co-operatively owned event, and it's going to be about getting all voices in the industry coming forward. So it will bring something different.”

The Mayor has been a regular and consistent supporter of local music since he was elected. He picks an Artist of the Month and encourages people to get along and support live music.

He also goes to gigs for fun, not just for the photocall. It’s his thing.  

In a magazine aimed at lads like us, Paninaro, up pops Burnham again.

The Scottish blokes who put it together were equally as charmed, though they didn’t call him ‘HM’.

A totally phoney politician would come up with stories for this audience about dancing on the stage of a certain Manchester nightclub in the 80s and 90s. 

Burnham tells the story about being turned away from the door as a fresh faced townie from Warrington.

He plugs a few bands for Paninaro - Slow Readers Club are the latest.

“In a different era they would have been everybody’s band. Quality wise, they are right up there.

“The Mayor’s Artist of the Month is there because of my upbringing and the joy music has given me. But you have to be critical of the place you are from as well. There is a tendency to trade on past glories…you’ve got to take inspiration from that and fire up what’s next.” 


A few days after we recorded our podcast, the Mayor was on stage at the Kendal Calling festival introducing big favourites of this show, Blossoms, giving a big shout-out to Stockport in the process.

I can’t think of many politicians who could get away with something like that without getting completely slaughtered.

As music fans, I think we’re very lucky to have support like this.

To hear his views on cricket, Catholicism, northern values and Gary Neville check out the Northern Spin podcast on YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts.

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