Tuesday 05 Dec 2023
[@]Discover Manchester’s bustling Live Music scene
Published: Guide No.17 - April '22
From Oasis to Joy Division, The Smiths to The Stone Roses, the list of bands the city has spawned is endless and their impact on the world is immeasurable.
So if you’ve come to Manchester for its music scene, it’s impossible to be disappointed.
You could be part of the audience that attends the huge Parklife festival, held in Heaton Park, where wellington boots are essential, or Summer in the City at the Castlefield Bowl.
Yet, while The Stone Roses may be able to sell out Heaton Park for three nights, and Oasis may be able to take over Manchester Arena or the Etihad Stadium, it wasn’t in packed arenas that these bands made their name.
It was in intimate, sweaty clubs, pubs and venues across Manchester, crammed with people and character.
Want to experience some of that ‘indie’ or ‘underground’ scene?
Then try clubs like the infamous Warehouse Project (Oct-Dec), visit the tiny space in The Castle, Oldham St or the even smaller Temple, Great Bridgewater St (a converted public convenience).
You can easily dance the night away at FAC251, Club South, Gorilla, Deaf Institue or try the Gay Village for a ‘camp’ disco.
Manchester also has a very successful classical music scene and is home to world renowned Royal Northern College of Music and the Halle Orchestra.
Read on to discover some of the best live music venues in one of the world’s great cities of music.
If you were hunting for the authentic Mancunian live music experience, then there are many options on the table and you could be easily overwhelmed.
Manchester’s live music venues have jam-packed bills featuring local and international touring talent for your entertainment.
Just off Piccadilly, where you can bump into people from every nationality and a fair few oddball characters, is Oldham St.
The street is a city centre hot-spot and it is still brandished the torch of the undying Mancunian passion for live music.
Walking north along it, for a minute or so, you arrive in the beating heart of Manchester’s music, art and creativity district, the self-styled Northern Quarter.
On your right is The Night & Day Café established in 1991, by a mad Dutchman.
This is a music venue of world renown with a laid back, unpretentious yet quirky ambience.
Having played host to tens of thousands of musicians in all genres from indie to folk, jazz to electronica, the Night & Day stage has had real international stars performing on it such as Arctic Monkeys, MGMT and Mumford & Sons each on their rise to the top of the music hierarchy.
For an authentic look at what’s going on in the Manchester music scene, often very out of step with the rest of the commercial pop world, head to Night & Day Café.
It is right next to what used to be the ‘Factory Records’ owned Dry Bar, part of Mancunian music folklore from the 1990s Madchester era.
It was notorious for many things including banning people such as Shaun Ryder and Liam Gallagher and not least it’s funding…
Oldham Street is also home to The Castle and Gullivers both charmingly unique of character and enthusiastic about their live music. Each is likely to be presenting a night of great new music.
Fancy something more traditional? Then Matt & Phred’s could be right up your alley, located only a stone’s throw away from Night & Day on Tibb St.
It is a dimly lit, style Jazz club with a small black curtained stage and decorated to give the place a certain intimate romanticism.
Mainly a Jazz club, its events calendar can include Blues, gypsy, swing, soul, folk, electro and funk depending on the night.
Some nights Matt & Phred’s can get packed so booking a table in advance could be a wise move. Cocktails and Pizza are the specialities here and food is served until midnight, try the Dave Walsh pizza.
Band on the Wall, Swan St, is a long-established venue regularly playing host to international stars and major tours.
Recently re-opened with two event spaces it continues to be a Manchester tradition.
In more recent years the city has seen several new venues open such as the Albert Hall, The Stoller Hall and YES.
The Stoller Hall was designed to cater for and deliver an excellent audio experience while listening to live orchestras, it’s location opposite the AO Arena and Victoria Station has helped to expand that repertoire to include modern bands too.
The Albert Hall, above Alberts Schloss on Peter St, is a converted Methodist Church and the stage in the round. It is a very exciting and interesting space to experience live music and it is often used for club nights.
YES, Charles St, has four floors to explore and it includes one of the cities few, and far between, roof top bars [I might do a piece on that in the future…]. The bar is usually busy and the food is simple and reliable including pizzas and Vegan Kebabs.
It, like the Albert Hall, has become a main stay concert venue for the live bands on their UK tours.
Check out these and other city venues events diary and discover who you can see tonight.
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