Manchester Unplugged: Top Music Venues

By: Katie Manning

March 25, 2013

Manchester is widely regarded as one of the world’s most important music cities. Over the years, it’s given us The Smiths, The Buzzcocks, The Chemical Brothers, Joy Division, Oasis”¦the list goes on. And while the city’s musical reputation is still commonly associated with 70s punk, 80s post-punk and 90s Britpop, there’s also a brand new generation of artists boldly picking up the Mancunian torch and proving just what England’s Northern capital can do. Groups like Delphic, Dutch Uncles, and The Courteeners are bringing back everything from brash electronic to epic stadium rock, and paving the way for new musicians of all stripes along the way.

For those looking to catch the best of Manchester’s up-and-coming artists, see if you can pop in to one of these cutting-edge venues next time you’re in town.

The Night & Day Café

Manchester Unplugged | Night & Day Cafe

The Night & Day Café © Night & Day Café

This laidback café/bar/live music hybrid is a favourite Manchester haunt for those looking to catch on-the-rise groups from the city and surrounding areas, as well as from farther afield. With shows scheduled nearly every day, expect to see local favourites like jangle pop-meisters This Many Boyfriends, alongside international acts.

Deaf Institute

Deaf Institute | Manchester

The Deaf Institute © blikeng

Another winning combination of café, bar, and venue, the five-year-old Deaf Institute has the additional bonus of occupying an old, you guessed it, deaf institute. The historic building features an outdoor terrace and its upstairs performance space feels like half disco, half attic (in the best possible way). Go for gigs from under-the-radar locals like electronic producer Indigo.

The Ritz

The Ritz | Manchester

The Vaccines onstage at the Ritz © Man Alive!

Though it’s a certifiable destination for global, high-profile acts (The Weeknd; Yo La Tengo), The Ritz also shows off Manchester’s hometown heroes, like the recent sold-out gigs by Johnny Marr. This venue is also made destination-worthy by its unique springy floor, which adds an extra bounce to your “dance” steps.

The Roadhouse

The Roadhouse | Manchester

The Roadhouse © Man Alive!

Host to such diverse events as boogie nights, launch parties, and live performances, The Roadhouse feels the Northern love with shows by the likes of Drunken Munks (a Mancunian hip-hop three-piece), Blackburn indie-poppers English Outback and Logan’s Runners, who blend Mumford-style folk with Biffy Clyro-influenced rock.

Ruby Lounge

Ruby Lounge | Manchester

The bar at Ruby Lounge © Ruby Lounge

Not quite inside the lively Northern Quarter, Ruby Lounge is an out-of-the-way venue that’s also host to some of Manchester’s best live shows. In addition to themed dance nights, it has given the stage over in the past to local up-and-comers like Ren Harvieu – a chanteuse who soulfully blends pop with classic ballads, as well as a selection of harder-rocking acts.


Katie Manning

Katie is an author for the Virgin Atlantic blog. Despite her urban London residency, Katie can often be found exploring far-flung corners of the globe in search of exciting new experiences and stories. A self-confessed night-owl, she makes it her mission to search out the best cocktail bars and live music venues on each and every expedition. Follow Katie @kt_saramanning