First there were The Hollies and the Bees Gees. Then came Buzzcocks and Joy Division followed by New Order, Happy Mondays and The Smiths. After that, The Stone Roses and then Oasis rose to fame, and now household names including The Courteeners, Blossoms and The 1975. Through the reign of Northern Soul, Madchester and Britpop, Manchester has been home to some of the best bands in the world.
Music is in our blood, and whilst we love celebrating our history, we’re always looking to the future and making new sounds. You can find live music just about anywhere in the city, on any night of the week. Mancunians know how to put on and enjoy a good gig, and it’s no surprise that many bands and artists rate us as their favourite city to perform in.
The Big and Extravagant
Stadium performances for global superstars can be enjoyed at Emirates Old Trafford, the Etihad City of Manchester Stadium, and the new CoOp Live Arena. They’ve hosted the likes of Take That, Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna and Beyoncé.
In the centre of the city, the AO Arena has a large capacity for touring rock and pop bands. For those who love their festivals, Parklife is Manchester’s annual music festival, held in Heaton Park in June.
The Small and Intimate
Around the city, you won’t have to walk far to find a venue that puts on regular live music and gigs. Some of our favourites include NewCentury and The Deaf Institute, though there are many, many more to discover. Night and Day is a legendary local performance space and if you love your jazz head across the road to Matt and Phreds!
Many years ago at the George and Dragon pub, bands used to play on a very narrow shelf above the crowd, in the days before health and safety. But from this came a unique nickname – Band on the Wall – and a venue that still hosts live acts today!
The Classic and Historical
One of the most iconic venues in the city is the O2 Apollo Theatre. It often hosts rising stars just before they hit the stadium circuit, or well-established acts who still draw large crowds but prefer smaller, cosier venues. Watch from the circle balcony or the sloping floor. For the most amazing sounds you’ll ever hear under stained glass there’s the stunningly atmospheric Albert Hall, which is putting on more and more live performances recently.
If classical music is more your thing, the Bridgewater Hall is another beautiful venue in Manchester for live music, and is home to both the BBC Philharmonic and the world-famous Hallé orchestras. It was purpose-built to deliver perfect acoustics. Up Oxford Road, the Royal Northern College of Music hosts more intimate public concerts from the best names in classical, chamber and a range of other styles.