Manchester International Festival – events music lovers won’t want to miss

Get into it

Manchester International Festival – the always-interesting biennial arts festival focusing on new work – is now underway in Manchester, with more than the odd treat for passing music fans.

The two-week spectacular opened last night (June 29) with What Is The City But The People?, in which the people of Manchester walked a giant runway in Piccadilly Gardens to a soundtrack by acid house-era hero Graham Massey of 808 State.

Central to the musical aspects of the festival are two events celebrating local heroes New Order – more of which below. Here are a selection of the musical highlights.

1. Mary-Anne Hobbs’ Dark Matter


Taking place at Gorilla and O2 Ritz on various dates throughout the festival, these evenings curated by Radio 1 tastemaker and all round dude Mary-Anne Hobbs showcase the best in local and leftfield music, having kicked off yesterday with a takeover event from Manchester grime crew LEVELZ. Upcoming events include celebrated electronic artist Holly Herndon, producer The Haxan Cloak and Hackney’s poet/musician Kojey Radical. The shows promise to be immersive experiences with lighting designed by Stuart Bailes.

Gorilla/O2 Ritz, June 29 – July 15

2. True Faith

Hosted in the city that birthed them, this major visual art exhibition will showcase pieces of artworks from all over the globe that have been influenced by Joy Division and New Order, including paintings, photography, visual clips and more.
Manchester Art Gallery, June 29 – July 15

3. Party Skills for the End of the World

Not a musical event per se, but this should be something special. An immersive theatre piece from the Shunt collective taking place in a special site in Salford, it puts the audience in the eye of an apocalypse, and invites them to party.

June 27 – July 16

4. Hookworms and Carla dal Forno

The psych rock quintet play the specially erected Pavilion Theatre at MIF’s hub, Festival Square.


Pavilion Theatre, July 2

5. Ceremony

An art piece by Phil Collins (not that Phil Collins), Ceremony will see a Soviet statue of philosopher, writer and thinker Friedrich Engels brought to the city he once called home, with a soundtrack by Mica Levi and Demdike Stare and a new anthem by Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals fame.

NCP Bridgewater Hall Carpark, July 16

6. New Order + Liam Gillick: So it goes..

The iconic Manchester group here collaborate with visual artist Liam Gillick and composer-arranger Joe Duddell to reinterpret their incomparable back catalogue in the evocative surroundings of the Old Granada Studios, from where Coronation Street and University Challenge once came. The band will be joined by a 12-strong synthesiser ensemble from the Royal Northern College of Music, and Gillick’s stage set will respond dynamically to the music.

Old Granada Studios, selected dates June 29 – 15 July

7. Fatherland

A play about contemporary fatherhood, featuring words, movement and music from Karl Hyde of Underworld.

Royal Exchange, July 1-22