Band on the Wall - © Ben Rowe/Time Out
Band on the Wall, one of Manchester's best-loved music venues, has fought a long battle to get to where it is today. Although its musical pedigree dates back to the 1930s (its name derives from landlord Ernie Tyson's decision to mount a stage for musicians on the then-pub's wall), it really came into its own in 1975 when it was relaunched as a jazz venue. Later that decade it became the place where the Manchester punk scene first flamed into life (the likes of Joy Division, the Fall and the Buzzcocks all played here).
But by the millennium, Band on the Wall was struggling. The former Victorian pub it inhabited was crumbling and, in 2005, the dilapidated venue was forced to close. Owners Inner City Music focused on fundraising, but the sum they needed to put right the building's wrongs - £4 million - seemed so staggering that some began to wonder whether the closure might be permanent.
When it finally reopened in late 2009, after securing funds from the City Council, Arts Council and Heritage Lottery Fund, it was like welcoming back an old friend. The venue swiftly returned to business as usual and now hosts the sorts of live gigs, DJ sets and club nights that would otherwise go under-represented in the city.
Here, you can expect to see everything from jazz and world music to new folk, spoken word and experimental electronica. Eclectic, right-on (it's run on a not-for-profit basis and does as much for education groups as it does for musical hipsters), Band on the Wall is unlike any other music venue in Manchester. Its 19th-century features have been lovingly restored, while all the accoutrements of a 21st-century music hall - recording studio, superior acoustics, even its own interactive rooftop artwork - are happily in evidence. It may have been four years in the making (or 200 years, if you're being pedantic) but Band on the Wall is back, and this time it looks like it's back for good.