Given that Mancunians are rarely shy of celebrating their city’s musical past and present, the news that Manchester’s been named the UK’s live music capital will surprise few round these parts.
If anything, the PRS For Music accolade has been a long time coming. While venues in London (a pretty meek fifth on the list) have been shutting their doors in their droves in recent years (the Astoria, Flowerpot and Metro to name but three), the number of stages in Manchester has simultaneously gone through the roof.
The Astoria: one of many London venues that have closed in recent years
You’ll know about the MEN Arena, Apollo and Academies (all four of them), while old established favourites such as the Night & Day and Roadhouse are still going strong.
However, a handful of key additions in recent years have made all the difference. For example, the Ruby Lounge has been packing them in with secret gigs and homecoming shows from the likes of The Courteeners in recent years.
A couple of miles further south, the Deaf Institute has also become one of the city’s most important – and visually impressive – venues with its traditional décor and unmissable club nights.
The scene’s also thriving outside the city centre limits at venues such as Chorlton Irish Club (home of legendary local night Blowout) and St Phillip’s Church in Salford, a suitably spooky stage for the likes of Hurts, Cat’s Eyes and Esben and the Witch.
Even FAC51 can occasionally come up with the goods when Peter Hook pulls his head out of his own nostalgic arse long enough – while the Warehouse Project puts on (the admittedly pretty corporate) faux-raves that Hooky wishes he could still muster.
With such a strong network of venues and clubnights, it’s hardly surprising that the new band scene is in rude health. As NME’s own Matt Wilkinson highlighted a couple of months back, the city’s new young talent – from Dutch Uncles to Egyptian Hip Hop – are thriving in a city where there’s never a shortage of places to play or things to be inspired by.
Not happy with running on the same venue treadmill as every other guitar-toting dickhead? Find a quirky stage, start a clubnight and build a buzz like Wu Lyf.
Dissatisfied with the endless nostalgia pumping out of clubs like 5th Avenue and 42nd Street? Start your own night upstairs in a pub, in the back of a café – even in your mate’s kitchen.
It’s a DIY spirit that’s infected everyone in Manchester’s music scene since – yes, there’s no getting away from it – Madchester. If you’re young, creative and ambitious, there’s really no better place to be in the UK at the moment.