Culture, Music

The LEGACY Issue: Five alternative music venues that have left their mark

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Featured image: Talk Show @ YES by Gracie Hall

You know the larger venues, but Manchester’s live music scene is built around these city institutions which have so much more to offer. So before you go looking for your next mega-gig, broaden your horizons and consider some of these fantastic places.

The Deaf Institute

As well as being a staple for student club nights, The Deaf Institute is an intimate live music venue that’s been part of the humble roots of many big bands today. Opened as the Adult Deaf and Dumb Institute almost 150 years ago, and reimagined in 2008 as a three storey café, bar and live music venue, its Ballroom is — alongside the Albert Hall — Manchester’s most evocative gig destination. Household names such as The 1975, Charli XCX, Wolf Alice and Pale Waves have all played beneath its glitterball, helping to seal the Deaf Institute’s new legacy.

135 Grosvenor Street, M1 7HE

The Peer Hat

Hidden away down a Northern Quarter back alley, The Peer Hat is Manchester’s ultimate grassroots venue. At street level, the venue is a classic dive bar but its basement hosts gigs, spoken word poetry nights such as the Silly Exhibition, improvised plays and the always bizarre electronic open mic nights. Finding out what’s on is always a challenge, but it’s the type of place that’s perfect for just turning up and letting the universe decide.

14-16 Faraday Street, M1 1BE

Band On The Wall

The Band On The Wall is one of Manchester’s most important venues, catering for music fans and clubbers with tastes ranging from folk to R’n’B; from reggae to rock. Dating back to 1803, it earned its name through a wall-mounted stage which literally put the band on the wall. Since then, plenty of huge names have passed through its doors, such as Afrobeat legend Tony Allen, Buzzcocks and The Fall, and it is supposedly where Joy Division signed their contract with Factory Records in blood. (Please note, blood isn’t more legally binding than ink).

25 Swan Street, M4 5JZ


Since opening in 2018, YES has quickly become part of Manchester’s furniture. With four bars and two live music venues, the Basement and the Pink Room, the ex-auction house on Charles Street has become a hub for an eclectic swathe of sounds. As well as touring acts, it champions local and hotly-tipped bands with its Hot Take and Mood Swings nights; Hold Tight is the city’s monthly alt-dance magnet, while the Deptford Northern Soul Club does exactly what it says on the tin.

38 Charles Street, M1 7DB


Last but not least is SOUP. Formerly known as Soup Kitchen, this venue has been covering all bases as a café, club and live music venue since 2010. With tickets from just £5, SOUP is a Northern Quarter staple, playing host to artists such as Push Baby and Mareux – even Dua Lipa has performed in front of its bare brick walls.

31-33 Spear Street, M1 1DF

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Ciara Reynolds

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