Manchester’s live music scene is simply awesome, and the city has some great venues to boot. For many (including myself) it is considered the best place in the country for music fanatics. So without further ado, let me give you a quick tour of Manchester’s musical haunts.
The largest gigs, which albeit are mostly pop groups, take place at the MEN Arena. This venue has the largest capacity, but due to it’s location and high ticket prices I can’t imagine you’ll be coming here much as a student. However, situated in our very own university are Manchester Academy and Academy 2, two of the best venues in the city. Playing host to gigs nearly every night with reasonably priced tickets available from the Students’ Union, this is always a popular choice with students. The venues’ history never ceased to amaze me, with legends such as David Bowie, Nirvana, The White Stripes, and Amy Winehouse (to name only a few) having graced the stage multiple times. The O2 Apollo is only a short walk around the corner, and has played host to established bands like The National and up and coming acts like Disclosure and Jake Bugg in recent months. The Ritz is your fairly run of the mill venue, and while it slightly further away is still only a stones throw from the Oxford Road. While it isn’t the most exciting venue, its claim to fame is that The Smiths played their first concert there.
Perhaps the most exciting music to be heard in the city will be found in some of Manchester’s smaller venues. The super cool Gorilla (across the road from The Ritz) has a knack for booking up-and-coming bands, and the food from the attached restaurant and bar is to die for. Night & Day and the Soup Kitchen are both situated in the edgy Northern Quarter area. The decor in both venues really adds to the atmosphere, and their smaller size combined with the quality of bands playing there will blow you away. Both venues serve delicious food and craft beers in the day. Sound Control also plays host to the occasional gig, and while its size is tiny, it makes up for it in atmosphere.
Moving back towards the University, The Deaf Institute is a perfect place to catch an intimate gig from one of your favourite bands and unwind with a beer downstairs afterwards. The Fallow Cafe is situated in Fallowfield itself, and is seeing and increasing number of gigs played there. It’s proximity to student accommodation (100m from Owens Park and Oak House) means you will never find a more convenient venue.
Trof, the company behind Gorilla and the Deaf Institute recently opened the Albert Hall, a Weslyan church that had remained closed and hidden for 40 years prior to its renovation. The grand and ornate chapel has been restored into a stunning purpose built music hall, and more well known bands are increasingly choosing to play there, with Bombay Bicycle Club, Goldfrapp and Moderat having played there in the last few months. The vibe created by the stained glass windows, ornate roof and tiered balcony really needs to be experienced to be understood.
Perhaps the most famous venue these days amongst students is the Victoria Warehouse. The once disused now converted warehouse is home to TheWarehouse Project (who’s roster of performing electronic, house and techno artists is unrivalled), and recently to the BBC 6 music festival. Slightly further out of town than other venues (the warehouse is next to Old Trafford), you can be guaranteed a good night of music here.
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