The Smiths, Elbow, Doves, Simply Red, Oasis – the list of world-class acts to arise from Manchester’s musical scene over the years is impressive. In a city with such a celebrated musical heritage, finding places to include in a Manchester music tour is not difficult. Here are a few of the highlights.
Strangeways Prison & Salfords Lads Club
Strangeways Prison (now renamed Manchester Prison) will be familiar to fans of The Smiths after it lent its name to the title of their 1987 album ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’. This was the last album to be released by The Smiths, and is regarded by Morrissey as their finest. You can visit the prison for yourself by heading to Southall Street. Perhaps the best known of the Smith’s albums, the cover for ‘The Queen is Dead’ was shot right outside the Salfords Lads Club. The club now has a dedicated Smiths room full of band memorabilia.
Free Trade Hall
The Free Trade Hall on Peter Street has played host to many top acts over the years, including Pink Floyd, ABBA, Queen, The Police and Led Zeppelin to name a few. However, it is probably best known by music fans for a couple of historic events that took place here in the 1960s and 70s.
The first was Bob Dylan’s gig in 1966 where he was called “Judas” by a fan for his recent switch to electric. The second was the now historic Sex Pistols gig that took place a decade later in 1976 in the Lesser Free Trade Hall (a small room upstairs). The small crowd of about 40 included a number of people who would go on to have a large impact on the Manchester music scene, including none other than Morrissey.
The Haçienda nightclub on Whitworth Street West became a focal point of the ‘Madchester’ music scene in the 1980s and 1990s. Opening in 1982, it became a dance club four years later and was one of the first clubs to play house music, featuring DJs such as Graeme Park and Mike Pickering.
However, all good things come to an end, and in 1997 it lost its license. Now you will find it has been replaced by an apartment block, although the name has been kept.
The Night and Day Café
The Night and Day Café is one of the most popular live music venues in Manchester. A café during the day, it turns into a music venue at night, and is popular due to its small and intimate interior which creates an intense atmosphere.
As well as up-and-coming local acts, it also plays host to well-known national and international acts, and live gigs take place most nights of the week. Find it on Oldham Street opposite Piccadilly Records.
The House Where Ian Curtis Committed Suicide
Slightly more morbid perhaps, but one to check out for fans of Joy Division. The terrace house located at 77 Barton Street in Macclesfield is the house where Curtis took his own life by hanging himself on May 18th 1980. Don’t expect a tour, but it’s a good place to pay homage to a legend of music.
Oasis Housing Estate
Oasis is one of the biggest acts to ever come out of Manchester, and the life of the Gallagher brothers can be charted right from their humble beginnings on Ashburn Avenue in Burnage, a suburb of Manchester. For fans of Oasis, a trip to the housing estate to see where the Gallaghers grew up will make an interesting detour from the other music hotspots in the city.
Explore Manchester’s Musical Heritage
This is just a taster of the places you can consider as part of a Manchester music tour. The city has a thriving music scene, so make sure to check out a few of them the next time you visit.