Manchester Music Trail

Greater Manchester’s music scene is many things at once. Firstly, it’s loud and proud; self-assured and monolithic, the side of the city you’ve no doubt come to know. However, it’s also something more obscure and constantly evolving; it’s found in basements, fraying Victorian mansions, and in (barely) converted mechanics’ garages.

In the Victorian city, zones were set aside for culture and you’ll see evidence of those today through streets such as Concert, or Trumpet, Lane. However, in the 20th century, deindustrialisation changed our access to live music. Whilst in the 50s and 60s you could find beat clubs in the labyrinthine streets that would soon be replaced by the Arndale, night times in the city were a quiet affair. Lunchtime discos were commonplace, and big names such as Otis Redding, would perform early enough that you’d still be home in time for tea - a far cry from the Northern Soul all-nighters of Wigan. 

The suburbs and surrounding towns became the home of music. From the mid-60s, the Clifton Grange Hotel in Whalley Range, owned by Phil Lynott’s mother Philomena, became the place to be for musicians and the only hotel that would put up The Sex Pistols. The Reno in the 1970s was a Moss Side cellar-club exclusively for mixed-race folk. In the 1980s, The Kitchen in Hulme was a squat venue in former social housing which took inspiration from West-Indian Blues parties. In the 1990s, the post-industrial landscape attracted artists back in with an abundance of affordable practice rooms in former mills which brought a creative force to the boundaries of Manchester and fortified our status today as a city of artists and musicians. 

*Commissioned and supported by Manchester ABID.

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