The Best Small Venues for Live Music in Manchester

Soup Kitchen
Soup Kitchen | © Side Stage Collective / Flickr
Emma Lavelle

Manchester is well known for its music scene and is an obvious stopping place for most bands on tour. Large venues such as Manchester Arena, the O2 Apollo and the Albert Hall regularly host sell-out gigs and concerts by anyone from pop sensations to indie heroes – but where should you head to catch smaller bands or local music? The city is full of small venues hosting independent festivals, acoustic performances and raucous gigs. These are the places you should have on your radar if you want to watch a band in small intimate surroundings before they make it big.

1. Gorilla

Bar, Restaurant, Pub Grub, British

Located under the railway tracks around the corner from Oxford Road train station, Gorilla is part of the Trof empire that dominates the city’s music scene (the Albert Hall being the largest venue in the repertoire). The cavernous room echoes the shape of the arch located above, providing a medium-sized space that caters to music acts that have outgrown smaller venues but aren’t quite ready for arenas. The venue has played host to a wide variety of bands and performers from a vast spectrum of musical genres including dance, indie and garage.

2. Deaf Institute

Nightclub, Bar, Wine, Cocktails, Beer, Pub Grub, Fast Food

Another venue owned by Trof, the Deaf Institute may be located within the student corridor of Oxford Road but it’s impressive calibre of gigs ensure that it attracts a wider audience. The venue space is on the first floor of the Grade II listed building; a small room with a domed ceiling and large bar. There’s plenty of standing room but the tiered seats at the back of the room or the small balcony to the left of the stage give you impressive views of the stage while saving you from bashing elbows with over-enthusiast music fans.

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