Manchester’s music scene: Past and present

Jan 13,2015

From Thatcher-bashing bands to acid house raves, Manchester's history is built on the very music it has produced. From the early rebellion of The Smiths (of course they would be the first to be mentioned), to the debauched days of Madchester, there's nothing its walls haven't seen. And it's not just history that makes the northern city so interesting. Today it is home to some of the best gigging venues in the world, and hosts some seriously big-name music festivals, such as Park Life. With such a fascinating back story and notable contribution to music, we couldn't resist getting to know the soulful city a little more.

The originals

In the steely shadow of Margaret Thatcher did angst-ridden bands grow. As Ian Curtis declared that 'Love will tear us apart', Morrissey invented bizarre images of violence and death. Yes, Manchester in the eighties saw the rise of rebellious post-punk, pop and rock. And what's more, these bands weren't just from Manchester, they were singing about it too, creating an iconic personality for the city - one that lives on today. There's no doubt that the eighties were an explosive time for Manchester, but the likes of The Smiths was only the start of it. After the suicide of Ian Curtis, the remaining members of Joy Division formed the band New Order, and these guys meant business. They had soon part-developed the infamous Hacienda - a club that was to change the landscape of Manchester's music scene forever.


As the eighties rolled into the nineties, indie rock music rolled into electronic beats. Fac 51 Hacienda was a hedonistic hub of drug-fuelled raving; a pre-cursor to the clubbing-mad 90s. Largely financed by Factory Records and New Order, it only took a few years for it to be labelled the most famous club in the world. At first, the music venue hosted gigs from the likes of Madonna, The Smiths (naturally), Echo and the Bunnymen and the Happy Mondays. However, it soon progressed into newer, more experimental pastures, and is now deemed largely responsible for the rise of acid house and rave music. This was a time of revolution for Manchester and its hard-core music lovers. The Hacienda was not only a place of pulsating beats, but of fashion experimentation and trend setting too. The nature of a night out at this club was one of rebellion and illegality. Soon the term 'Madchester' was coined, and it couldn't have been more appropriate.

A certain set of brothers

Of course, as we inch our way into the nineties, a certain brotherly duo springs to mind. Yes, Liam and Noel Gallagher rode the Britpop wave with Oasis for most of the decade, transforming Mancunian music yet again. The brothers were heavily influenced by bands such as The Beatles, T.Rex, Sex Pistols, The Stone Roses and The Bee Gees. They produced hit after hit, dragging us away from the electro pop of the eighties, and into the guitar-strumming sound we would come to know firmly as the nineties.

Today, people flock from far and wide to this northern gem to get in on the gigging action. If you're planning your own trip, it might be an idea to look into hotels in Manchester city centre. With so many great venues and nights on offer, you'll need more than a day to get a true taste of it all. For the band-lovers among us, there's the 02 Apollo, which is perfect for epic gigs. Or maybe you like the sound of the legendary Hacienda. If so, you might be more at home at The Warehouse Project, where renowned DJs fill grungy rooms with electronic mixes.

Throughout the years Manchester has created musical anarchy and revolution. It has produced legends, ravers, fashions and ideas. Yes, the Hacienda's doors are shut. And yes, the Gallagher's are probably more likely to be found watching tele with Kate Moss than causing havoc on the streets. But one thing's for sure, Manchester still has a rip-roaring offering when it comes to music. So… who's out tonight?


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