Live Music Meccas: Liverpool and Manchester

Liverpool and Manchester are two cities with an impressive history and so much to offer their visitors. Just 30 miles apart, they have dominated the football world for decades, and the same is true with the music industry – with some fierce competition from the capital no less.

But it’s hard to argue with the quality of the artists who have hailed from England’s North West: The Beatles, The Smiths, Joy Division, New Order, Echo & The Bunnymen, Oasis, The Stone Roses

And more recently, bands like The Coral, The Zutons, The Wombats, Blossoms, The 1975 and Circa Waves have sold albums around the world.

If you’re not from this neck of the woods and are looking to catch the next big thing in a Liverpool or Manchester venue, here are some definitely worth paying a visit…

Arts Club, Liverpool

Tucked away (aside from the big neon sign) on the backstreets of Liverpool’s Bold Street area, but still walking distance from Liverpool Central station. Arts Club is a pretty simple venue with a ground floor stage and bar and a smaller room upstairs called ‘The Loft’. It offers a jam-packed calendar of gigs and club nights with very reasonable door prices.

Best gig here: Wolf Alice


The Deaf Institute, Manchester

Housed in a century and a half old building just off Manchester’s Oxford Road, The Deaf Institute is a quirky 3-floor independent venue with live music and club night rooms, bars and a restaurant. Also, the only 200-odd capacity venue I’ve ever been to that has seating.

Best gig here: Swim Deep


Magnet, Liverpool

Cool retro bar on the outskirts of the city centre with a music venue/comedy club in the basement. Voted best bar in Liverpool.

Best gig here: Drenge


Albert Hall, Manchester

Rejuvenated gothic church in Manchester city centre complete with stained glass windows.

Best gig here: Slaves


O2 Academy, Liverpool

O2 Academy Music Group venue which has cemented Liverpool’s place in the UK touring circuit.

Best gig here: Spector


The Ritz, Manchester

Medium sized venue right next to Manchester Oxford Road station. It was known as the HMV Ritz before being taken over by the O2 Academy Music Group. An important part of Manchester’s indie music scene.

Best gig here: Swim Deep


The Kazimier, Liverpool

Closed Liverpool venue that Circa Waves called their favourite venue in the world after touring the world. RIP.

Best gig here: Peace


Manchester Academy, Manchester

A number of different size venues on Manchester’s Oxford Road. It has attracted a lot of big names over the years.

Best gig here: Jaws


Studio 2, Liverpool

Historic recording studio that is still in use but doubles as an intimate live music venue. Don’t be surprised to bump into bands in the bar.

Best gig here: Drowners


O2 Apollo, Manchester

3,500 capacity venue on the outskirts of the city centre but within walking distance of the main train station, Manchester Piccadilly. Tends to attract big names.

Best gig here: Two Door Cinema Club