Manchester’s music scene is a large part of what attracts many prospective students to the city. Bands like The Stone Roses, Oasis, James, The Smiths, and more have created an individual identity here unlike any other. Manchester’s underground scene continues to support and grow talents like Document, The Goa Express, Phoebe Green, and Witchfever. Apart from on Christmas day, you’re likely to find at least one musical event occurring everyday in the city all year round.
This musical identity is even better reflected with the University for Manchester’s Students’ Union. Within our campus, we have not one, two, or even three – but four musical venues delighting fans of all genres. Manchester Academy has a long and rich history detailed in their archives, with artists from Radiohead to Prince, to Pete and Bas, and everything in between.
Yet, often enough when I ask other students about the shows they’ve been to at the Academy or who they’re going to see next they’ve not heard of it or been yet. It feels such a shame that students don’t know about some of the very best live music right on their doorstep. So here is everything you need to know about Manchester Academy!
Academy 1 is the largest venue within the student’s union. It’s been an active venue for just over 30 years now and holds just over 2500 hundred people standing or 1100 seated. Both its ticket office and main doors are located just to the left of the main Student Union building, decorated with stained glass. The venue has its own bars, cloakroom, merch stands, and a balcony available for those with accessibility requirements.
In recent years, dozens of notable artists have headlined here, it being one of the largest venues in the city behind Victoria Warehouse, the Apollo, and AO Arena. These include Billie Eilish, Sleaford Mods, Loyle Carner, and Slowthai.
Academy 2 was formerly known as the Main Debating Hall and sits on the first floor of the Students Union building itself. If you’ve stayed late working in The Hive you’ve no doubt heard artists sound checking and prepping ahead of their headline sets here! Its ticket office is located on the ground floor of the students union and 532 is often packed with eager gig goers ready to experience another great live show.
I’ve personally seen Arlo Parks, Oliver Tree, Pup, and more at Academy 2 just within my time studying my undergraduate here at the University of Manchester. There is always growing talent coming through these doors and Academy 2 is often the place to find the very best of it.
Academy 3 is all the way on the top floor of the Student’s Union, it shares 532 and its box office with Academy 2 and Club Academy. Academy 3 also has its own bar and merch area and is often the best place to find emerging talent coming into Manchester to play their first headline shows. The venue is also often used by students for various society activities, meetings, and performances.
Club Academy completes Manchester Academies line up of venues, down in the Students’ Union basement it’s the smallest venue of the four. Formally known as The Cellar, Club Academy often welcomes DJs as well as Hip Hop artists to campus. Club Academy also hosts a variety of non-musical events from Drag Nights to themed shows. You can find more information on the student’s union’s website!
In the next three months alone they’ll be the chance to see The Darkness, Kawala, Cavetown, Shed Seven, Ist Ist, Funeral for a friend, Afflecks Palace, Clairo, Blood Red Shoes, and more play all right on campus. All of these artists promise a great night out, supporting local bands and giving you a more interesting night out than your standard trip to Factory.
I think it’s fairly easy to see why Manchester Academy holds such a special place in my heart, especially as a student at the University. I can’t recommend catching a show here enough, the venue staff and security are so friendly and always willing to help. We’re all so lucky to have access to these venues so close and would love to see our collective student body supporting Manchester Academy well into the future.
The Academy team ensure that they provide a dedicated access area for any gig-goers with accessibility requirements across all four of their venues. This has earned the Academy a Silver Standard from “Attitude Is Everything.
We regularly cover gigs at The Academy so if you’d like a more in-depth article on an individual gig feel free to check out my review of Don Broco’s show in Academy 1 last month!
If you have any questions about the venues or future shows you can find the Academies contact information here!