A Travel Guide | Music in Manchester

I wrote this article for a first draft of my A Level English Language coursework but ended up scrapping it when I came up with a better idea. I thought I would share it on here anyway so it doesn't go to waste.

Manchester is renowned for its Musical history, specifically throughout the 1980s/90s Manchester was named ‘Madchester’ by London Journalists to describe the movement that was happening up north. Bands such as The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, The Charlatans, The Inspiral Carpets and James mixed alternative rock, psychedelic rock and dance music to create a sound which led to commercial success in the indie rock field nationally.

I have selected landmarks in Manchester that are notorious for their live performances and their place in Musical history over the past 50 years.

Free Trade Hall
Perched in the centre of Peter Street, The Free Trade Hall was built at the site of the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 and is now a Radisson hotel. The hall was used for political speeches and also a concert hall where it is said to have held one of the most important concerts of all time. The Sex Pistols in 1976: a gig that inspired a generation to make their own music, and arguably ‘changed the world’.  Around 40 people bought a 60p ticket and attended this gig but now thousands claim they were there.

Morrissey was there, who went on to form the Smiths. The lads who went on to form the Buzzcocks were there, as they organised the gig. Two lads from Lower Broughton who went out the next day and bought a guitar to form a band called Joy Division were there and many others such as The Fall and NME journalist Paul Morley. This is an excellent site to get a real feel of musical culture.

To the right of the Free Trade Hall stands the Gmex, you won’t miss it, it’s a huge railway terminus that was used for rock concerts until the construction of the Manchester Arena. The venue held concerts from international bands such as Snow Patrol, Arctic Monkeys, Biffy Clyro and 30 Seconds To Mars. In December 2012 the GMEX also hosted the final of series 9 of The X Factor.
Salford Lads Club
Salford Lads Club is a boys and girls recreational club located in the Ordsall area of Salford. This building has recently been named the third most iconic building in the country due to it featuring on the sleeve of The Smiths album, The Queen Is Dead. The club is on the corner of St Ignatius Walk and (the real) Coronation Street in Salford and is a place of pilgrimage for many Smiths fans. Many fans pose outside as the band did in 1986.

Now, what is only a block of apartments was once labelled the most famous club in the world. Situated on Whitworth Street, The Haçienda opened in 1982 and despite persistent financial troubles survived until 1997. Owned by Factory Records and New Order, The Haçienda is associated with the rise of acid house and rave music. Although the club was demolished in 2002 this is still a top 5 to visit for its historical legacy.

Why not try these?
If it’s new music you’re after try a few of these smaller venues with the most recent bands, every band wants to play in Manchester.  Night& Day Café (Oldham Street), Sound Control (Wakefield Street), Deaf Institute (Grosvenor Street)


  1. Hey Lucy :) I've recently moved to manchester so this is a really great informative and inspiring piece! nice to know we're living amongst such awesome music history! Thanks, Becca x x