It’s big and it’s corporate, but this former cinema is where many of the world’s biggest touring bands and comedians make their Manchester stop
Manchester’s second largest venue after the Phones4U Arena, the Manchester Apollo is nonetheless pretty vast, and regularly sees some of the biggest names in music and comedy take to the stage in the Grade II listed building. The tiered seating, balcony and ornate red ceiling all help afford the venue a throwback charm, even though its modern components – an O2 customer VIP lounge and generally gaudy branding – are less appealing.
Depending on the type of act playing, the Apollo offers a range of different experiences, sometimes switching through several different setups in a single week. Whereas the upstairs balcony is always seated (and comfy, too), the bottom space is usually all standing for rock and dance gigs, with comedians and folksier artists not changing a thing in terms of setup. Sound is usually pretty fantastic, helped by the natural acoustics of the classically engineered theatre, which began life before World War II as a cinema.
It’s worth noting that the Apollo is a good 20 or 30 minute walk outside of the city centre, so allow plenty of time if you’re heading over on foot; the area approaching Ardwick Green, where the theatre is located might feel comparatively barren, but is generally safe. If you don’t fancy the walk or a cab, the Stagecoach 192 to Stockport whizzes past up to 18 times an hour during peak periods, and until the early morning.
Like most large, corporate venues, the Apollo hardly excels itself in terms of food or drink options. The lager is of the weak, plastic pint pot variety, and a plate of smelly nachos or a bag of chocolates come with huge mark-ups.