What’s better than live music? Live music amplified by a layer of darkness and mystery. Manchester has a history of unusual and atmospheric gig venues – from the rough-around-the-edges nature of The Roadhouse to the buzz of the Boardwalk. There still are a number of out-of-ordinary places where you can watch a live band or artist, some of which you may never have realised were there:

The Deaf Institute

Here you can discover a brilliant upstairs music hall, set inside a 1878-built former ‘Deaf and Dumb Institute’. The building lay derelict up until only 6 years ago, now refurbished. And whilst there are now bars on the ground floor and the basement, the music hall upstairs really is something to marvel at. There is eccentric, art-deco inspired wallpaper, thick velvet curtains, a dramatic domed ceiling, towering tiered seating… all underneath a massive mirror ball. Gothic chic for sure.

135 Grosvenor St, Manchester M1 7HE

The Eagle Inn

This characterful venue is tucked away in the Salford backstreets (Collier Street to be precise) – but still deceptively close to Deansgate, only about a 10-minute walk from the cathedral.  And it’s certainly worth the journey, as this 1903-dated pub also hides a music hall… which, a little like the Tardis, is certainly bigger on the inside. Towering heights and bold stonework allow for an acoustic excellence and a great gig space. And if you fancy relaxing with a drink, there’s even a characterful veranda – said to be a popular haunt of Manchester band Elbow, who often use Blueprint Studios just down the road.

19 Collier St, Greengate, Salford M3 7DW

The Albert Hall

A hidden Grade II listed Wesleyan Chapel you may never have guessed is part of Peter Street, built in 1908 and designed by the architect William James Morley. Having laid closed for over 40 years, it has since been resurrected as a bold and beautiful gig venue. Its ornate chapel interiors, including vaulted ceilings and terracotta windows, floral plasterwork and glazed tiles, create an atmospheric gig space with standing room on the ground floor and balcony seating above. The likes of Beck, Primal Scream, The Slow Readers Club and Manic Street Preachers have all played here.

27 Peter St, City Centre, Manchester M2 5QR


A dark, dramatic music venue close to Deansgate Station which feels a little like walking into a lion’s den – often heavy and often wild. Open for events and gigs only, Rebellion is a dedicated music venue founded in 2013 and with over 400 capacity. Here you can typically find some of the best local as well as touring heavy metal and rock bands, as well as the likes of Hip Hop, punk and funk. Black, brooding interiors make an ideal setting for a big dancefloor, three bars, a beer pong table – and one of the best soundsystems in the city. Hold onto your ears.

2B Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5WZ

Satan’s Hollow

This underground venue and drinking den claims to Manchester’s only dedicated rock venue – though as well as live music, this is also your place for hard rock and metal after-parties and club nights. Your night hasn’t been hard enough if you haven’t been to Satan’s. Established in 2000 and situated at the edge of The Gay Village, it’s a subterranean space complete with red mist, railings, relics and many more atmospheric interiors which will really make you feel that you are dancing with the devil.

101 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6DD

St Philips Church

Surprisingly regularly used for live music and even Gothic clubnights, this 1822-24 built, Grade II listed church just off Chapel Street in Salford is a beautiful example of the Greek Revival Style. And it’s certainly good for gigs, with excellent acoustics and stained glass adding to the atmosphere. At select times, there is even opportunity to access the creepy crypt below. Keep updated online for scheduled nights and visiting gigs, with events in the past including Simon Buckley’s Not Quite Light Weekend event ‘Night Lights’ – which saw poetry, ghost stories and live music come to St Philips.

2 Wilton Pl, Salford M3 6FR

The Star and Garter

Home to some of the longest-running alternative clubnights in Manchester including ‘The Smiths Disco’, The Star and Garter is built in the style of a no-nonsense boozer situated behind Piccadilly Station, with a room upstairs for clubnights and gigs. It’s especially good for punk, grunge and rock shows, and has plenty of atmosphere to boot – given Grade II listed status in 1988 and attracting audiences from far and wide for decades.

18-20 Fairfield St, Manchester M1 2QF

The Stoller Hall

Tucked away close to the historic heart of Chetham’s School of Music in the centre of Manchester, The Stoller Hall is a relatively recent addition which opened back in 2017 and provides a powerful new performance space with flawless interiors allowing for the ultimate sound experience. Designed by Stephenson STUDIO, it received a national RIBA Award in 2017 and was named in the top 49 of the best new buildings in the country. It’s a popular location for classical music concerts – some which even have their very own Gothic twist, including the ‘Scoring Fear’ event, which is a collaboration between the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies and the BBC Philharmonic showcasing an evening of classical music and Gothic horror film scores. It will be presented by Dr Matt Foley and recorded for BBC Radio 3’s Sound of Cinema.

Hunts Bank, Manchester M3 1DA

The White Hotel

A weird and wonderful warehouse space in the backstreets of Salford – one of the most secretive venues on the list, not too far from Strangeways and a hotbed of atmospheric live acts, DJ sets, experimental music and clubnights well into the early hours. You’ll find cutting-edge culture right here, and named after the novel of the same name by D.M. Thomas, The White Hotel seeps mystery, with an underfloor bar, projector screen in the back room and a gritty gig floor to go wild on.

Dickinson Street, Salford, M3 7LW

The Old Abbey Tap House

An eccentric boozer hidden in Manchester Science Park, buzzing with creativity. It’s literally steaming… as re-opened as STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths) hub within a pub, back in October 2016 and has gone from strength to strength. Its intimate space provides an intensity for weird and wonderful live gigs, with the likes of ILL and Nun Habit having played inside already, as part of a Halloween Weekender. A recent addition has been an outdoor stage and more seating too, along with Farm Lab – a garden area growing exotic mushrooms. Surprises around every corner.

Guildhall Cl, Manchester M15 6SY

Images provided with thanks to the venues

More information

From Parklife to Warehouse Project and Pride to ground-breaking performances in offbeat venues including the White Hotel and Hidden, Manchester is the home of Unmissable Music. 

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