Bass, Sweat, and Years: A Decade and a Half Of HIT & RUN in Pictures

Ahead of Depot Mayfield on Friday 17th December, we look back at one of Manchester's longest-running parties, from Riz Ahmed and stage-diving Skream, to late-legends Salford Jon and Marcus Intalex.

By Martin Guttridge Hewitt | December 28th '21

Manchester legends Dub Phizix, Skittles, and the late-Salford Jon control the booth at Fac 251

Let’s face it. Manchester lays claim to its fair share of nightlife legacies. In fact, more than most other cities we can think of, UK or overseas. And this weekend sees one of the most treasured parties in the region mark a decade and a half of debauchery.

Headed up by enigmatic and inimitable promoter and DJ Rich Reason, HIT & RUN should need no introductions. On Friday 17th December, the event rolls into Depot Mayfield, with a huge bill including SHERELLE — perhaps one of the most dextrous and in-demand players right now.

Other highlights are bound to include Break b2b The Sauce with Fox, Breakage with Footsie and P-Money, Chimpo and Truthos Mufasa, Critical Soundsystem, Digital Mystikz honchos Mala and Coki, Strategy, and Biome, to name just a few.

In order to pay proper tribute, we’ve handed the reins over to the bossman himself, with one not-so-simple request. Pick 15 photos from the history of HIT & RUN, and tell us why they define the throw-down. Without further ado, then..

Riz Ahmed holds the mic for Rich Reason to play ‘bongoes’ at Po Na Na (C) Hannah Howlett

“Riz [Ahmed] started the original HIT & RUN in Oxford in 2001 with two friends (so, in some ways this is also a 20 year anniversary), and made me one of the first two residents.

“We then ran it together for a few years until I left and moved to Manchester in 2004. A few years later I was invited to start a night on Mondays at Po Na Na, where I was already resident….. so HIT & RUN Manchester was born. Just one floor and we hired in extra speakers each week to make sure it had the requisite bass-weight. A (pre-blockbuster) Riz came up and performed, as well as showed his range of skills.”

Former Oxford Road loft gem The Attic welcomes a full-throttle crowd for Cookie Monsta (C) Katie Cooper

“There aren’t too many photos from this era, which is a shame as it was the year I felt we really established ourselves and each Monday would be busier than the last. We had some classic nights – a stand out was Alix Perez and Boxcutter, for the 1st Birthday.

“It was a specially good once we started using the Thirsty Scholar as a second room, and the decking outside became a real feature. The social and community aspect of the night really took off. People would pay in and then stand outside all night smoking and nattering; and often pop into Monday Murkage down the round on the same night, too.”

Dubstep pioneer Skream takes a stage dive at Mint Lounge (C) James Mernagh

“We had plenty of corkers that first run of shows at Mint Lounge in 2008/09, including Manchester debuts from the likes of Ben UFO, Untold and Cosmin TRG.

“But the Skream night will linger long in my memory. His seminal La Roux Remix had just dropped and it got reloaded about seven times. Benga turned up just for the craic, Virus Syndicate joined Chunky on the mic and it was a total zoo. There are clearer pictures from that night, but this one of Skream stage-diving captures the Bacchanalian and blurry nature of it all.”

A rabid dance floor at Area 51 gets the 16 Bit treatment (C) Katie Cooper

“It’s a shame I don’t have (or couldn’t find) more photos from this time, as it was one of the best. The top room at Area 51, now Rebellion, with extra subs we brought at the back, had exceptional acoustics. This night was a roadblock, with the 16-bit lads peaking at this period.

“You could tell it was their first wave of fame from the condition in which they left their hotel room. They destroyed everything apart from the television, including a chair lodged into the window. My custom at that particular establishment is still not accepted to this day.”

DMZ originator Mala with Manchester’s own Chunky hosting at Fac 251

“Always an event when the Deep Medi boss is in town; always an honour when he plays for us. He’s one of those elite artists like Calibre who chooses the promoter, rather than they are booked by the promoter.

“Such are the privileges of rare, generational, foundational talent. I believe this was his first time playing for us, for one of those insane nights at Fac 251. Camo & Krooked came on after for their first Manchester set, too. Still a bit mad that this all used to happen on a Monday night.”

Manchester legends Dub Phizix, Skittles, and the late-Salford Jon control the booth at Fac 251

“Probably the most iconic photo to have ever materialised from one of our nights. Dub Phizix at the top of game, anticipating an inevitable attempted reload by either Skittles or our dear departed friend Salford Jon.

“Salford Jon was one of the most unique and hilarious people I’ve ever met. He was a regular at the Monday HIT & RUN’s for years, this figure in the corner shadow-boxing to DnB all night. He epitomised much of what is brilliant about Greater Manchester, and is a loss still keenly felt by me and our corner of the Manchester music community.”

James Blake, Kromestar, Chunky, Mungo’s HiFi, and Rich Reason at The Ritz (C) Gary Brown

This was one of the last appearances of a series by James Blake as his star flew ever higher into the ascendancy since his Manchester debut for us in October 2009. It was also one of the last nights that the Ritz was open before its refurbishment, and rebirth four or five months later as HMV Ritz. But at the time we thought it wouldn’t reopen.

“We’d hired the Mungo’s HiFi rig, and we told the lads to crank it — they said at the time it was the loudest they’d ever pushed it (as bits of plaster fell off the ceiling). We moved there briefly when it reopened, but we found out we’d made a rod for our own back as that night they’d had so many complaints they had to reopen with serious limitations on sound.

“One of Manchester’s pre-eminent sound engineers still hasn’t fully forgiven me for sneaking behind him to keep nudging the sound levels up. Great sound has always been an integral part of the night, so it was inevitable we’d move back to Factory, where we coupled their Function 1 with some supplemental subs on each floor; trying to put 1500 in a venue each Monday was somewhat challenging too.”

Icicle and Tonn Piper take the roof off Mint Lounge (C) Gary Brown

“This night is memorable largely because of the broader situation in the country. The weekend before riots had kicked off in London due to the killing of Mark Duggan by The Met Police. Unrest was rippling out from the epicentre of the capital, and had already kicked off Birmingham but hadn’t quite reached Manchester.

“There was an electricity in the air, though, as if anything could happen. It was a sold out night, and the atmosphere was crackling; the next day the riots did arrive in Manchester proper, and I remember touring round town with Wilf Prophecy in my Renault Clio, seeing if we could get any stranded people to safety, and watching general chaos unfold before our disbelieving eyes.”

Hit & Run heads to Croatia for Outlook, hosting a boat party with Skittles, Konny, Fox, Leadbelly, Rich Reason, Tonn Piper, Mushy, T-Man, Sparkz (C) Gary Brown

“HIT & RUN was asked to be the promotional partner for Outlook festival in 2008, and I am one of the few people who still has a connection to the festival all these years on.

“The HIT & RUN stage and boat parties ended up morphing into LEVELZ ones, but this was the last year of the boat party being HIT & RUN in name. It was as lively (and far more tasteful) than the Hawaiian shirts quite a few of us were sporting, and featured a cast of characters that continue to still give Outlook a distinctly Mancunian flavour.”

Drum & Bass pioneer Marcus Intalex with Fox at Antwerp Mansion (C) Jody Hartley

“It was a running joke Marcus Intalex would be the secret guest each year at the HIT & RUN birthday. You can tell from Fox’s face, his set was sublime as per usual. Marcus used to take the unremitting piss out of me “Reason, you Scenester!” he’d shout in my general direction whenever we’d bump into each other; but I’d take him as a man whose actions counted more than his words.

“He used to regularly play HIT & RUN for a fraction of his usual fee — many of his sets stand out as amongst the very best we’ve ever witnessed. It meant a great deal to me that he’d always willingly play the night, and it was his musical legacy (along with Mr Scruff’s) that made me want to move to Manchester in the first place.

“It’s difficult to summarise all that he meant to several of Manchester’s electronic music scenes, and the lessons he left to so many of us on how to conduct oneself in this often fickle and transitory game. He taught me that if you always put the music first you won’t be rich but you’ll still be able to do what you love for decades rather than years. An icon and a hero; and a wit to boot.”

Youngsta, Icicle, and Biome go back-to-back at Hidden with Skittles on the mic, HIT & RUN’s 10th Birthday (C) J Bannister

“It was great to have this set as a centrepiece of the 10th Birthday celebrations. Many years before I’d encouraged Biome to bring a CD of his productions to a HIT & RUN where Youngsta and Icicle were playing, and I impressed on them the need to listen to said CD as he was (and remains) a production phenomenon.

“They listened to the CD on the way home from Manchester and his tunes started to become firm favourites in their sets, and as this photo proves, he became a peer and a friend of theirs. This set, running from 140BPM through to 170, was incredible too. One of my goals with the night it to provide a platform for the best new talent, and I’m proud this is a shining example of that.”

The Dolphin arrives at Hit & Run’s 2016 Halloween party, Mint Lounge (C) J Bannister

“Our Halloween nights always stand out as some of the best. We have done the majority of them at Mint Lounge, whichever night of the week Halloween happens to fall on.

“There’s something about dressing up that unleashes the primal in a crowd, and taps into a Carnivalesque spirit in a way that doesn’t happen when you’re not dressed up as a Dolphin, a Nun or a Musketeer. I’ve seen fear in the eyes of artists not from Manchester playing at these shows, as they teeter (in the best possible way) at the precipice of sanity.”

The mighty Channel One Soundsystem celebrates 40 years at Hulme’s Niamos Centre (C) Rich Reason

“I have only ever done one night at this iconic Manchester venue, but it definitely lives long in the memory. I have an incredible amount of respect for the longevity and influence of Channel One, who have left an indelible mark on UK music and culture. So it was great to have Channel One for their 40th anniversary show in the incredible surrounds of Niamos in Hulme.

“They played all night, and the type of dubby heavy steppers they play often feel as euphoric as any trance record. I always really enjoy the company of Mikey and Ras when we book them up her — often conversations of a political and conspiratorial bent — and am honoured that they continue to be willing to play at HIT & RUN. This was also the first night I brought a disposable camera, too; having enjoyed being trained up by my other half and taking photos at most of my nights now.”

Lenzman, LSB, Tyler, DRS and Fox at Hidden (C) Gary Brown

“Hidden has become a fortress for us since we moved there in 2016; love to the team behind it, and it has evolved to being one of the best clubs in the world. With all the talk of NFTs, I’ve realised I’m always trying to create Non-Fungible Moments — if you miss it, you’re unlikely to ever have a chance to witness it again.

“This was one of those…. Lenzman b2b LSB, for the first time ever, for a special three-hour set, hosted by three Mancunian and UK vocal titans — DRS, Fox, and Tyler Daley of Children OF Zeus. It was truly spell-binding. One day hopefully they will all agree to me releasing the recording.”

Fox and Fixate keep the energy high at The Warehouse Project (C) Gary Brown

“Despite being Resident at The Warehouse Project’s bass music nights since it began in 2006 (coincidentally the same month HIT & RUN Manchester started), our show in February 2020 was the first HIT & RUN there. We were lucky to get Noisia for their final Manchester date before disbanding. I remember giving great thought to the programming running up to Noisia’s sets, so the music really shifted up the gears of intensity, crescendoing to the climax of the headliners.

“It was great to have so many artists who had been regular fixtures at the night like Icicle, Spectrasoul, Fixate and Monty, having given them their Manchester debuts many years before.

“It was also really important to me to have 100 per cent Manchester MCs on the mic all evening, epitomised by the presence of the talented triumvirate of Trigga, Tonn Piper, and DRS who have done so much to fly the flag for the city in this genre and beyond all over the globe. I remember being worried it wouldn’t “feel” like a HIT & RUN, but regulars new-and-old came out in force and it just felt the same but painted on the grandest ever scale. One of my proudest moments for sure.”

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HIT & RUN’s 15th Birthday rolls into Concourse at Depot Mayfield on Friday 17th December with SHERELLE, Break b2b The Sauce X Fox, Breakage X Footsie X P-Money, Critical Soundsytem (Enei b2b Kasra b2b Particle) X T-Man, Dmz (Mala b2b Coki) X Strategy, Hypho b2b Biome b2b Cartridge, Chimpo X Truthos Mufasa, Chimpo X Truthos Mufasa, Sicaria Sound X Sparkz, and Skeptical b2b Dub Phizix X Strategy. A limited number of advance tickets are still available