Live Music in Manchester
The BEST live music venues in Manchester
Manchester has been a hub for new talent and world-class music for as long as we can remember! From the 60s where the Bee Gees and Top of the Pops began in Rusholme, through to the 70s, which saw the rise of punk, with the Sex Pistols playing their first northern gig in Manchester’s Free Trade Hall and the beginnings of Joy Division. Following up with the post-punk era, which saw the Smith’s lyrics entwine our city with ethereal sounds whilst they continue to be one of Manchester’s recognisable bands. On to the late 80s and 90s when we became affectionately known as ‘Madchester’ thanks to the new club scene led by the infamous Haçienda, along with Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses. Continuing into the millennium in which some of the most iconic Manchester bands continue to put our city on the musical map, including Oasis, The Verve, and The Courteeners.
Whilst Manchester has a whole history of being one of “the most musical” cities in the UK, our city continues to develop the music scene with a whole roster of musicians, artists, new sounds and big events within the inner Ring Road of Manchester, and further afield. Here are some of our recommended venues to catch the next rising musicians on the scene!
Band on the Wall
25 Swan Street, Northern Quarter (M4 5JZ)
A landmark in Manchester’s music scene past and present, Band on the Wall is one of our favourite venues for live music. The building dates back to the early 1860s where it started life as the “George and Dragon”. The name Band on the Wall derived in the 1930s when a stage was installed high on the back wall on which musicians played! The venue has and continues to see a whole host of music genres passing through its stage, from its period as a Jazz club In the early 70s to the new sound that was punk in the late 70s, with Buzzcocks, Joy Division and The Fall playing some of their earliest gigs here. Since its rebirth in 2009, Band on the Wall continues to host some of the best up and coming artists across many genres, as it continues to be a cornerstone of Manchester’s thriving music scene.
A Manchester-based musician bringing his Irish folk music roots to the city.
54-56 Whitworth St, Deansgate (M1 5WW)
Under the railway arches of Oxford Road station, you’ll find the industrial bar and venue, Gorilla. Part of the Trof family (those who run the Deaf Institute) this former theatre is not only a live music venue but also boasts a Gin Parlour, restaurant and nightclub! With its 60s inspired décor and 600 capacity venue, this is a live music venue not to be missed! Gorilla has been a building dedicated to the arts and music since it opened in 1986, and it shows no signs of stopping! Some of our very own Manchester bands played here from when they began including James and Doves!
Greater Manchester legends of the music scene, continuing their legacy in punk music in the city!
Night and Day Café
26 Oldham Street, Northern Quarter (M1 1JN)
By day, experience Night & Day’s chip shop roots and sample their impeccable menu for a relaxed lunch in the city. By night, the venue holds host to some of the city’s musical giants as well as artists from across the world. It’s hard to keep count of the big names that have walked through the door in the small exterior of Night and Day Café; from Johnny Marr to the Mumford and Sons. Since 1991 Night and Day Café is one of Manchester’s signature small venues with a big reputation!
Upcoming indie band from Wigan quickly gaining momentum, The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess is also a fan!
38 Charles Street, University Corridor (M1 7DB)
One of the youngest music venues on our list, with not only one but FOUR floors dedicated to music and entertainment (and pizza!). A basement for suitably dingy club nights, the ground floor where you can find every pizza slice you could want, available all day until late – from as little as £2.60. On the 1st floor is the bright pink gig venue. Complete with a roof terrace with potted plants for an urban jungle experience, you are not short for space at YES that opened in 2018. Since then it has become an essential tour stop for emerging artists from across the UK as well as across the waters.
Indie pop riser from Manchester, honing in on blissful melodies, and bittersweet lyrics.
The Deaf Institute
135 Grosvenor Street, University Corridor (M1 7HE)
The roots of this grade II listed building is in the name, previously an institute for deaf and dumb adults when it was built in 1877. Then in 2008, it made a triumphant return as a small music venue with a big reputation. Across 3 floors, including a terrace and a bar & kitchen you are not short of entertainment whatever your taste. With an array of club nights and live music gigs, there’s something for everyone at the Deaf Institute.
A Manchester rock and roll 5-piece, embodying raw guitar music and high energy performances.
27 Peter St, Spinningfields/Deansgate (M2 5QR)
Another favourite live music venue of ours is the Albert Hall on the border of Spinningfields district (not to be mistaken for the Royal Albert Hall in London!). This impressive building started life as a Wesleyan chapel in 1908. A grade II listed building, it makes for an unlikely live music venue hosting big-name acts since 2012, and between 1999 – 2011 it was even a nightclub! The gothic and baroque style interior makes for a dramatic effect and is also excellent for the acoustics in there! The Manic Street Preachers and Sam Smith are just some of the big names to grace the Albert Hall stage. This venue is one worthy of a place on our list!
A classic game of Bingo with a twist! It’s been reinvented with added mayhem, dance anthems, and class prizes!
So what are you waiting for, Manchester is perfect for every music fan, whatever your taste there’s something for everyone. And whilst you’re here, did you know we also offer private walking tours or taxi tours with a knowledgeable guide who will take you to musical hot spots around the city? To find out more about Manchester Music Tours, click here!