The Best Live Music Venues In Manchester
Crowned the UK’s ‘best live music city’, Manchester hosts more live music shows per person than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. From intimate venues built for up-and-comers to massive arenas hosting the biggest artists in the world, Manchester music venues have something for everyone. Jazz, indie-rock and even classical, whatever the genre, live music is integral to Manchester’s identity.
With so much choice, it can be hard knowing just where to go in order to experience the greatest sounds of the city. So, here’s our pick of some of the best live music venues Manchester has to offer.
The Coolest Club: The Warehouse Project
Running since 2006, the Warehouse Project is a series of club nights running for only three months of the year, between September and New Years day. Now held in a disused Mayfield railway depot on Baring Street, the Warehouse Project is one of the most popular club events in the city.
One of the most unique aspects of the project is its tendency to line up internationally renowned DJs alongside lower-profile acts, and as such, manages to place itself at the forefront of the city’s dance music scene. In addition to this, however, the Warehouse Project is also amongst Manchester’s favourite live music venues for musicians, having played host to acts like The prodigy, Foals and Basement Jaxx. During the off-season, the Warehouse project presents a variety of live gigs across Manchester to tide fans over until September.
Day to Night: Gorilla
Out of all the live music venues in Manchester, this is surely one of the most multi-faceted. Serving as a bar, restaurant, club space and live music venue, Gorilla offers something for everyone – no matter the time of day.
Located under the railway on Whitworth Street, Gorilla is a cool two story, glass front venue, housing a kitchen and even a gin parlour stocked with some of the best gins from around the world. A fan favourite Manchester music venue, Gorilla has hosted a number of big names since it opened in 2012 including the likes of Everything Everything, James Blake and Frank Turner.
Trendy & Hot Tips: The Deaf Institute
Sitting on Grosvenor Street is one of the most well-regarded live music venues in Manchester – the Deaf Institute. The 300 capacity venue opened in 2008, having found a home in a derelict victorian building that formerly served as an institute for the deaf and dumb (hence its name). Run by the owners of the Northern Quarter’s Trof Bar, the grade II listed building has been injected with new life, quickly becoming something of a hipster paradise and one of the hottest indie music music spots in the city.
Its proximity to the Manchester Metropolitan Uni campus has no doubt contributed to the venue’s popularity with a young and trendy crowd, but its programme of world class talent is by far the biggest selling point. Also known for hosting club nights and private parties, the Deaf Institute may be small, but is definitely making a big impact amongst Manchester’s community.
Best Loved: The O2 Ritz
Another popular Manchester music venue located on Whitworth Street , the O2 Ritz (formerly known as The Ritz) has existed in the same spot since 1927. Originally opening as a dancehall in the 1920s, the venue was frequented by dancers, of both professional and amateur calibre, who wanted a whirl around its famously sprung floor.
In the 70s and 80s, The Ritz focussed more effort on becoming one of Manchester’s most renowned live music venues. Since its opening, the Ritz has played host to some of the biggest music acts in the world including The Stone Roses, The Smiths, R.E.M. , and even The Beatles.
The Biggest Names: Manchester Arena
Sitting north of the city centre is the famous Manchester Arena. With a 21,000 seating capacity and over 1 million visitors per year, not only is the arena the largest venue in the UK, it’s also one of the busiest. The arena was originally constructed as part of the city’s bid for the 2000 Olympics in the style of an American style sports arena, but has since grown into one of the most popular and successful Manchester live music venues.
Over the years, Manchester Arena has hosted an array of internationally renowned artists including The Rolling Stones, Whitney Housten, Beyonce and The Spice Girls. The arena plays a key role in the city’s musical heritage, being the site of iconic shows by local bands like Oasis, Elbow, New Order, Happy Mondays and The Verve.
Live Music Venues in Manchester’s Northern Quarter
A Mixed Bag & Open Mic: The Whiskey Jar
Head over to Tariff street and enjoy a dram of whiskey and some tasty music at The Whiskey Jar. An old textile mill, the space has been refurbished into a fully-functioning venue complete with bar and comfortable seating, whilst still maintaining its original industrial charm. As the name suggests, the speciality of the bar is, in fact, whiskey – boasting a menu of over 400 different types.
That’s not all, however. The Whiskey Jar has also gained a reputation as one of the most entertaining live music venues in Manchester, offering open mic nights that are known for showcasing excellent artists. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are also regular nights for music, with the venue hosting various local bands and musicians as well as DJs on rotation.
Old Meets New: Band on the Wall
For two centuries, Band on the Wall has been a staple of Manchester’s cultural landscape. Sitting on Swan Street since 1862, it’s one of the most historically rich music venues in the Northern Quarter.
The name ‘Band on the Wall’ came about in the 1930s when the venue still operated as a pub called the George and Dragon. This was because, at the time, musicians would play on a stage placed high on the far wall of the pub. After the pub was bought in the 1970s, it was fully renamed ‘Band on the Wall’, growing a reputation for hosting jazz, folk, blues and, in the late 70s, punk and post-punk musicians. The likes of Buzzcocks and Joy Division even played some of their earliest gigs here, and ever since, the venue has gone from strength to strength. After a refurbishment in 2009, Band on the Wall was treated to a new state of the art sound system, enhancing the live music experience and cementing its place as one of the most beloved Manchester music venues.
Jazz: Matt and Phred’s Jazz Club
Matt and Phred’s Jazz club is the only dedicated jazz venue in the north-west of England. Opened in 1998 by two musicians, Matt and Phred, this club is a small and intimate venue tucked away on Tib Street – but with a big reputation as one of the most established live music venues in Manchester. Though no longer run by Matt or Phred, the venue has continued to make a name for itself by showcasing talent from across the jazz world.
Offering live music 6 nights a week, Matt and Phred’s has hosted some big names in the past including Jamie Cullum and Adele, alongside some notable performances by jazz artists like Kit Downes and Marius Neset.
Another Northern Quarter live music venue with a long history, Gulliver’s has a story that dates back to 1865. Located on Oldham Street, Gulliver’s has existed under a number of different names over the years until it was bought in the 1970s and reincarnated into its current form.
Alongside a busy bar, Gulliver’s also boasts not just one, but two live music spaces. The upstairs ballroom is the larger of the two, with a 100 person capacity, whereas the 40 seater downstairs lounge is perfect for intimate gigs. Gulliver’s has a reputation for supporting the grassroots artistic community, with a number of well-known artists getting their first big break within its walls.
Upcoming Hot Tips for Live Music in Manchester
Here are some upcoming gigs being hosted in some of our favourite music venues across Manchester – it’s time to book your visit!
- 26th February: Johnny Mac and the Faithful at The Deaf Institute
- 28th February: The 1975 at the Manchester Arena
- 3rd March: Samantha Fish at Gorilla
- 7th March: Jonas Blue at The O2 Ritz
- 16th March: The Who at the Manchester Arena
- 19th March: KSR at Band on the Wall
- 24th March: Slotface at The Deaf Institute
- 28th March: Blossoms at the Manchester Arena
- 31st March: The Family Rain at Gulliver’s
- 3rd April: Sari Schorr at Band on the Wall
- 5th April: Barenaked Ladies at The O2 Ritz
- 8th April: Bridges at Gulliver’s
- 9th April: Bang Bang Romeo at Gorilla
- 11th April: Kyla Brox at Matt and Phred’s Jazz Club
- 12th April: Life at The Deaf Institute
- 18th April: An Orchestral Rendition of Dr Dre at The O2 Ritz
- 25th April: Harry Styles at the Manchester Arena
- 30th April: Bon Iver at the Manchester Arena