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Footage of Durutti Column performing in Kaivopuisto Park in their early Factory Records days and a few other rare appearances.
Vini Reilly of Durutti Column was the first signing by Factory Records’ Tony Wilson to the now cult UK label, and he would forever stand as its one true outlier. The virtuoso guitar player offered a far more intimate sound, releasing instrumental records (with few hesitative vocal exceptions) that contained melancholy, meditative guitar sketches that completely offset the branded abrasive and dancier sounds surrounding him on the Factory Records roster.
Durutti Column was also known to be Wilson’s favorite act; he stated once in an interview that his car was filled with Durutti CDs and that he didn’t much listen to his label’s breadwinning acts like New Order and The Happy Mondays. For Wilson, who was the subject of the biopic 24 Hour Party People, Factory was all about Durutti Column. Reilly’s unique classical approach to so-called new wave earned famous fans, most notably Brian Eno, who once stated that Durutti’s 1981 release LC (AKA Lotta Continua or “Continuous Struggle”) was his favorite album.
The “outlier” role would also play out in his approach to performing. Reilly was notoriously stage-shy and seldom played live. Maybe it was because of the minimalist music, or that the melancholy instrumentals didn’t quite translate to the live setting or cater enough to the expectation of concertgoers who were more interested in the uptempo pop standards of the day. And seeing a sparse lineup — usually only Vini with his effect-treated guitar and minimal percussion provided by Bruce Mitchell — didn’t seem all that entertaining compared to the rest of his Factory family. That scarcity makes the below unearthed live performances all the more special, as they showcase Vini’s masterful abilities.
The earliest filmed Durutti Column performance was in Helsinki in 1981. The set appears to be at some kind of summer festival with thousands of stoic Finnish spectators in attendance. Most of them don’t seem to know what to make of what they’re seeing, appearing ambivalent, confused or mesmerized. Forty years later, this is prime Reilly playing Durutti classics like “Sketch for Summer,” “Missing Boy,” and “Sketch for Dawn.”
Here is an expanded line-up of Durutti at the Royal Northern College in Manchester in 1991, featuring the addition of Keir Stewart on bass and keyboard. Reilly also makes use of his Rhodes keyboard side stage with updated takes on DC classics like “Jacqueline,” “Opera” and “Day is Over.”
And finally, here’s Domo Arigato, a rip of the original VHS release by Factory (FACD144) featuring Durutti filmed live in Tokyo on April 25, 1985 at Gotanda Kan’i Hoken Hall. This may be the best vintage footage of DC in the 80s, and it also features a more rounded lineup. Bruce Mitchell returns on drums with the addition of John Metcalfe on violin and Tim Kellet playing trumpet. Reilly is more keyboard-focused here as well, taking turns using his Rhodes and DX7 while Mitchell hops off the kit for a few tracks (with the help of a drum machine) to play marimba. Domo is one of the few concert films Factory released, most likely thanks to Tony Wilson, and it features DC at their 80s best.