A place where the Hacienda once stood, where Factory records will always live on. A place where people still have ‘that’ Oasis haircut and wear Parka’s in a proud and unashamed way. Where Northern Soul still gets people on their feet from 17-70 year old and you can go on ‘music’ bus tours to relive the day gone by of The Stone Roses, Joy Division, Oasis & The Smiths to name a few.
Music is used here to celebrate, to create union, to lift others up, to entertain and to inspire. The recent gig in honour of those who were affected in the recent Terror attack showed us that music can re-unite, it can empower and breed love. From the street parties, to the parades, to the buskers on Market Street - it would be a strange thing to be able to walk through Manchester and not hear a flow of musical genres. Also take into consideration that Manchester has the most gig venues per 10,000 people than any other city and it is of no surprise that every artist you could ever want to see will tour here.
What inspires me most about the music scene here is that it is enjoyed by all. No matter what age. I often scour the local vinyl shops to see what bargains can be found to find 80 year old rockers chatting to staff about the first time they saw The Rolling Stones or 50 year old women in Dr Martens telling stories of how they met David Bowie after a gig in Berlin. Mixing with the floods of students or young music lovers - the Vinyl shops were there before the hipsters , not because of them.
In one block we have Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange and Vinyl Resting Place - 3 extensive offerings all within a few feet of each other- and they are all welcome. There are enough music lovers here to keep these places going.
Vinyl Resting Place is tucked away on the 3rd floor of my first Manchester love - Afflecks Palace. A haven of everything alternative. You can be forgiven for not knowing the coolest underground band here. The owner is chilled and has that unmistakable passion for Manchester music. It is a place to spend a good amount of time leafing through the boxes of vinyl and getting lost in your own world. You can get a lot of fashion inspo from those vinyl covers and anything 70’s and a little rock n roll always catches my eye. If I can’t be a Led Zeppelin groupie and wear huge mongolian fur coats or be in Fleetwood Mac, well I can come here and dream.
Welcome to the official Rock n Roll capital of Britain
Walking down Oxford Road amongst all of the grey you would be forgiven for missing the small front of Big Hands. However once you notice the red neon sign hung onto the all black exterior you will have discovered a Manchester institution.
Once you venture inside you are finding much more than a dimly lit drinking hole, you have stumbled upon a legendary bar - a familiar place to some of your musical idols.
In pride of place next to the Manchester Academy, this is the place to hit before and after a gig, and because of this its crowds will contain not only the gig crowds, but also the crews and artists themselves. The reason for this is because of its unassuming incredibly nonchalant vibe. There are no pretentious attitudes here. It is relaxed, informal and no matter how dirty your converse the staff will not bat an eyelid
The decor is a rather inviting mix large leather seats and velvet sofa’s, dated 70’s furniture and fairy-light lit liquors. The red peeling walls are mostly covered with gig posters for everyone from Alkaline Trio to Kings of Leon. You will find the big names here but also your favourite niche band.
I have even been to a gig at Manchester Apollo when a friend of mine was playing and his band all requested I take them to Big Hands for a drink post-set. It has become a safe place for some musicians. The likes of Lily Allen and Kings of Leon have also relaxed with drinks here.
There are often DJ’s and live bands on and the staff have a ‘do what you like as long as no one else minds’ kind of attitude. Perfect for a relaxing drink after work, a gig related evening or a night out to a cool new DJ. This is my kind of nightlife - you can go for one drink in your converse and jeans and still be there at 2am having met some interesting people and danced the night through to some new music.
Manchester’s most iconic building has to be the Town Hall. Built in 1868, it is a Grade A listed building and here my life at Manchester began.
On my first evening in Manchester 13 years ago, the Town Hall was the first building that I stood outside and realised that this was my new home. It was an overwhelming feeling for an 18 year old girl who had never even visited a city alone yet standing infront of this grand building, I felt a sense of independence and freedom.
Feel a sense of independence and freedom
The Neo-Gothic architecture of this building is actually breathtaking, and I have been lucky to explore the inner floors on various occasions . A market, afternoon tea, a Halloween tour, a wedding and even a fashion show have all been events I have attended inside these walls.
“Play with light and shadows.”
The tiled floors with scattering bees , a symbol of Manchesters busy worker bee mentality give the corridors a real sense of city pride, whilst the large arches and huge winding staircases with tall arched windows play with the light and shadows and give the whole building an even grander atmosphere.
The clean lines and light inspired this Prince of Wales checked suit. It is the headquarters of the Manchester City Council, yet the events I have attended here show that it is not without its humour and creative side, so I added a relaxed touch with trainers and a fur scarf.
"If the Northern Quarter is Manchester’s personality, this is its heart."
We would visit the Town Hall on New Year's Eve and watch the fireworks, or enjoy the markets outside the Hall around Christmas time. When people meet to show solidarity for a cause, candles are lit here. Flowers are laid. If the Northern Quarter is Manchester’s personality, then this is its heart.