I’m extremely fortunate to live within about half an hour of Manchester, and have my in-laws on hand for babysitting duties when required.
My wife and I don’t get in too often and it’s become a running joke that when we do it’s almost always to the Depot Mayfield. This is the site of some big-name draws for the Warehouse Project and we’ve had some great nights there- particularly memorable ones being John Hopkins/Bicep, the Hacienda 40th birthday do and recently the utterly inclusive celebration that is HomoBloc.
I was tasked to sort a Friday night out- anything but the Depot! I decided for some extra fun to keep it a surprise, and fortunately Manchester delivered in spades.
We kicked off with some after-work drinks at Society near the Bridgewater Hall. A multitude of Vocation beers on tap, some excellent Indian street food from the Chaat Cart and a couple of hours to just catch up was the perfect warm up.
The first surprise, and a bit of a risk, was at Rebellion at the bottom of Deansgate. I had picked up tickets for a band called ‘The Bends’- a Radiohead tribute specializing in that era. I’ve seen some great tribute bands- you can’t argue with the songs and for me what you lose from seeing the original band you gain from returning to the original intimacy and the excitement of the performers. Also, the tickets were cheap as chips and if the band was rubbish at least it was somewhere new to check out.
The venue was amazing. The perfect old-school, no-frills, matt-black painted room. It felt like the stage took up half of it and the bar was knocking out reasonable drinks at reasonable prices- all a world away from stadium gigs these days. The band also went on to knock it out of the park with the kind of glee that was probably the least authentic aspect!
All that excitement and it was still only 10pm and we were just warming up. A short walk away was the venue Gorilla and another surprise. This crowd was due to be significantly more sparkly and so a costume change was in order before plunging into the world of Fleetmac Wood (no typo!) This is a husband/wife DJ-duo who spend their whole set playing Fleetwood Mac re-mixes, edits and deep-cuts. I figured 5 hours of this could go either way but some skilled DJing (they’ve been honing this for 10 yrs), a brilliant crowd and some cheap ciders combined for a fabulous event. Highly recommended, if you get the chance then get involved.
There you go then- Manchester delivers. I really reckon it’s a brilliant ‘Goldilocks’ city- neither too big so as to be overwhelming nor too small so as to have nothing interesting going on. Combined with an always up for it and appreciative audience and a £30 Uber home you can’t go wrong.
Thank you Manchester, we will be back!
Action Points- Check out Skiddle for some interesting events near you, get some Fleetmac Wood in your life (https://on.soundcloud.com/XBcKB) and dust off ‘Okay Computer’.