It’s all well and good having a stream of bars and clubs to take your pick from in Manchester, but sometimes, all you want is a good gig. Whether it’s the sweaty metal type or a cutesy acoustic set you’re after, chances are that Manchester has it.
As a Manchester student for two years now (and a gig fanatic, I may add), I like to think I’m qualified (ish) to judge a few of its venues.
The biggest (and probably the one you will have heard of) is the M.E.N. Arena. It’s right in the middle of the city, and is an easy walk or tram ride from the centre. This is the place you’re going to get your big names – Kings of Leon, Tinchy Stryder, Justin Bieber (for anyone that may be so inclined to see the Biebs…). Basically, it’s big. Really big. Don’t expect to be within metres of your idols here for less than a hefty fee. The bonus is that it’s right in the centre of town – very handy for a cheeky post-gig tipple.
Next, there’s the 02 Apollo. Again, it’s fairly big but not so big that you’ll lose your mates. A nice little gig venue with some good names and great atmosphere. It’s in a bit of a random place just off Oxford Road (the main uni campus), and may require a taxi if you don’t really know where you’re going. Beware of the drinks prices! Not pretty.
One of the main gig venues in Manchester is Manchester Academy. Always a popular choice for students, this venue’s in a great location on Oxford Road, right on the bus route. Academy 1 holds some big names, like Death Cab For Cutie and Mumford and Sons and Academy 2 and 3 tend to have the smaller (yet not obsolete) bands. Like the Apollo, Academy 1 is a good size, and has a great buzz about the place. If you’re looking for a gloriously sweaty mosh pit, then this is the place to go. Academy 2 is next door, in the student union. It’s a lot smaller but has all of the atmosphere of its big sister. Good for getting up close and personal with the bands, whilst enjoying the whole gig experience. It’s worth noting that the Academy bars are considerably cheaper than other gig venues, so you won’t have to count the pennies quite so much.
From the big to the very small, another great venue for the occasional gig is Trof. Strictly speaking, it’s a bar. It’s very small and very quirky and lies in the heart of Fallowfield, Manchester’s student village. Despite it’s size and casual demeanor, every now and then it hosts some unforgettable gigs. A few months ago, Frank Turner shocked everyone by turning up to do a ‘surprise’ charity gig there, announcing it only on Twitter an hour before. Being stood a few feet away from one of my favourite artists holding an acoustic guitar was something I’ll never forget. Keep your eyes peeled for big artists here, the size of the place makes it such an intimate experience. It’s also great for open mic nights and just a general hang out – definitely worth a visit!
Last but definitely not least is The Warehouse Project. This massive venue is in the city centre, and hosts some of the biggest names in dubstep and drum and bass. It’s boasted big acts such as Nero, Benga and Annie Mac. Constantly adding huge artists to its impressive resume, this venue is increasingly popular with both students and locals, and most big nights will sell out very fast.
Rather than being solely a gig venue, WHP is more gig-meets-massive-night-out. It doesn’t come cheap, but is definitely worth doing at least a couple of times a year. Just make sure you get your tickets early!
Here’s some links for Manchester’s upcoming gigs:
The Warehouse Project
Written by Sarah, Manchester Uni