1) The Deaf Institute
The grandeur of the neo-Gothic Grade II listed Deaf and Dumb Institute provides an ironic setting for this shrine to the independent music scene. A wonderful aesthetic and ethos runs through the institute, highlighted by it’s collection of unique Timorous Beasties wallpaper, giant disco ball and dome-shaped music hall. Choose to relax up in the bleachers or party on the dance-floor but make sure you get to the Deaf Institute.
2) Ruby Lounge
As the regular home for Manchester’s arm of BBC Introduces, the Ruby Lounge is a fantastic place to see emerging talent as well as playing host to a smorgasbord of more established names where no genre is off limits. The audience are practically standing on the stage, which accompanied with the low ceilings add to the venues intimate feel.
Following an O2 rebrand the interior has managed to retain all of its old charm, whilst the external façade certainly looks better for a lick of paint. The Apollo is an incredibly versatile space, morphing from a cosy all seated theatre for an intimate solo session to a huge open dance space for America’s biggest rock bands or DJ’s.
4) Moho Live
This place makes attending a gig feel just that little bit naughty. Being underground and with ceilings low enough for the performers to swing from, condenses the sound into a tight decibel packed ball before unleashing it on unsuspecting ear-drums. This place is best suited when the volume is turned up high.
5) Night and Day Cafe
Night and Day has quickly developed a reputation as one of Manchester’s premier live music venues. Hosting live performances nearly every night of the week and celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, has meant that a huge number of acts have been through its doors.. With an eclectic line-up there’s usually something to suit every taste.
6) The Bridgewater Hall
It cost £42 million to erect this dazzling architectural masterpiece and nothing was scrimped on the acoustics. It’s home to three world famous orchestras (the Hallé, the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata) but boasts a broad programme covering classical to pop.
7) Islington Mill
Salford’s creative hub has a musical heart that has been beating very loudly of late. ‘The Mill’ is the spiritual home to a plethora of new talent, most of which is showcased in its own performance area. This place is worth a visit even if there isn’t a scheduled gig as there’s a good chance that whilst exploring the galleries, installations, classes and events regularly hosted within its walls, you will be able to hear the rehearsal of the areas next bright young things refining their sound.
8) Band on the Wall
Much more than just a live venue, the legendary Band on The Wall has always served a cultural reference point on Manchester’s musical compass. Following a £4million refurbishment in 2009 Band on the Wall reopened with the same agenda of highlighting world music and nurturing local talent, a remit that means the venue hosts some an incredibly diverse range of artists.
9) Matt and Phreds
Whether you’re familiar with the entire work of Freddie Hubbard, or just happened to overhear a Jamie Cullum cover whilst in a department store, Matt and Phreds caters to all comers. Jazz aficionado’s congregate alongside first timers to listen to smooth sounds from exceptionally talented musicians. The small stage and intimate venue makes for a collaborative process between audience and performer rather than a passive experience – you can almost believe that you’re in the band.
In its former guise as Sankeys Soap, this venue was hailed as Manchester’s premiere ‘Super Club’. A slippery transition away from quantity to quality and a change of emphasis to match the shift in clubbing tastes didn’t always appeal to some long-time regulars, but with a reputation that can attract the best DJ’s around and hordes of party goers, Sankeys is continuing to build on it’s already burgeoning reputation.