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Where to Go on a Manchester Music Tour

Image © Jake via Flickr

Take a music pilgrimage to the Northern hub of Manchester

Whether you were a fan of Joy Division in the 70s, The Smiths in the 80s or Oasis in the 90s, it’s undeniable that Manchester boasts an eclectic music history. Many iconic locations in this city have been demolished or simply closed down, but you can still visit spots to pay homage to punk, rave and Britpop through the years.

Image credit: Andrew Stopford via Flickr


Free Trade Hall (now the Radisson Blu Edwardian)

Coming from out of town? Well a great place to stay would be at the central Radisson Blu Edwardian which was originally the city’s Free Trade Hall. If you’ve watched the film 24 Hour Party People then you might recognise it as the venue for the iconic Sex Pistols gig in 1976. The iconic punk band’s first Manchester gig was attended by about 40 people, despite the fact that a ticket cost only 50p! This crowd turned out to be small but mighty, and went on to form bands called The Smiths, Buzzcocks, Joy Division and The Fall. The band returned to the hall a few weeks later and played to hundreds who’d obviously caught on.

Image credit: Rich via Flickr


Salford Lads Club

Ah, The Smiths. The legendary coming of age band, perfectly discovered in your sombre teenager years and developed over years of heartbreak and malaise. God bless the years where you could enjoy The Smiths without acknowledging the problematic nature of Morrissey’s public opinions. A trip to Salford Lad’s Club is a pilgrimage for indie teenagers of Greater Manchester and beyond, a place to pose for a picture just like the one on the cover of The Queen is Dead. This listed building has been in use for over 110 years and is still a place to go for boxing, snooker and gym – although it’s worth noting that girls are welcome now!

Image credit: EthelRedThePetrolHead via Flickr

The Epping Walk Bridge

Another iconic photo spot is the Epping Walk Bridge in Hulme, where Joy Division were shot for NME in 1979. Almost put off by the bleak Manchester winter, the band and photographer Kevin Cummins set off in the snow to take some press shots. The photographer was sent out with two rolls of film, all he could afford, and the band stopped on the bridge completely unplanned. This accidental shot became an iconic piece of Manchester music history and is recognisable 50 years later. Pay homage to the late Ian Curtis at Epping Walk Bridge, perhaps stopping to read Touching from a Distance whilst there.

Image credit: Olivia Kinsella via Flickr


The Haçienda

Kept alive by memory, The Haçienda was once one of the most exciting nightclubs in the UK. The ‘Madchester’ years saw a rise in house music, acid rave and ecstasy tablets, all of which found a home here at The Haçienda. Owned by Factory Record’s Tony Wilson and New Order’s Rob Gretton, the place fell into various states of disrepair and closed in the summer of 1997. Serving as a music venue, nightclub and cocktail bar, the club saw regular performances from The Smiths and a one-off show by Madonna. The site was sadly demolished in 2002 and now exists as a luxury block of flats. Find original Haçienda artefacts and memorabilia at the local Science and Industry Museum, along with Haçienda themed glasswear designed by Factory Record's designer Peter Saville, inspired by the iconic striped pattern on Ben Kelly's original dancefloor.

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