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30 fantastic photos of The Roadhouse by Al Baker

One of Manchester's best-loved basement clubs is set to close, so we asked the man who was there to document it over the years, Al Baker, to dig deep into his archive for this very special gallery

Roots Manuva at Friends & Family
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Roots Manuva at Friends & Family

Woody, Kwasi and Martin Brew at Friends & Family
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Woody, Kwasi and Martin Brew at Friends & Family

DJ Yoda at Friends & Family
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DJ Yoda at Friends & Family

Dom Sotigu at Friends & Family
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Dom Sotigu at Friends & Family

Monk One & Kwasi at Friends & Family
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Monk One & Kwasi at Friends & Family

Shortee Blitz at Friends & Family
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Shortee Blitz at Friends & Family

Taking a breather
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Taking a breather

Ty and Bizzniss at Friends & Family
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Ty and Bizzniss at Friends & Family

Mark Rae at Friends & Family
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Mark Rae at Friends & Family

Edan and Insight at Friends & Family
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Edan and Insight at Friends & Family

Rodney P at Friends & Family
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Rodney P at Friends & Family

Yoda and Darren Laws at Friends & Family
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Yoda and Darren Laws at Friends & Family

Rodney P and Fallacy at Friends & Family
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Rodney P and Fallacy at Friends & Family

Harry Love at Friends & Family
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Harry Love at Friends & Family

J-Rocc and Kwasi Asante
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J-Rocc and Kwasi Asante

Quantic Soul Orchestra
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Quantic Soul Orchestra

Alice Russell
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Alice Russell

Vibes
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Vibes

Chris Jam
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Chris Jam

Ty
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Ty

Mikey Don at Put Your Music Where Your Mouth Is!
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Mikey Don at Put Your Music Where Your Mouth Is!

Darka at Eat My Beat
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Darka at Eat My Beat

Elijah & Skilliam at Eat My Beat
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Elijah & Skilliam at Eat My Beat

Artwork at Hoya:Hoya
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Artwork at Hoya:Hoya

Star One and Chimpo at Put Your Music Where Your Mouth Is!
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Star One and Chimpo at Put Your Music Where Your Mouth Is!

The Unabombers at Electric Chair
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The Unabombers at Electric Chair

Buzzin' at Hoya:Hoya
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Buzzin' at Hoya:Hoya

Jon K & Fox at Hoya:Hoya
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Jon K & Fox at Hoya:Hoya

Bog off
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Bog off

Brothers with different mothers
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Brothers with different mothers

Al Baker on The Roadhouse years

'It was my favourite place in Manchester, an old fashioned café with a basement club beneath called Papas Club, which suddenly shut down. The owner Thomas Augusti Papathomas sold up and retired.

'Not long after the Roadhouse opened its doors as a live music venue. Those doors have stayed open now for more than twenty years but, sadly, they too are set to close at the end of May.

'The sheer amount of up-and-coming artists that have graced that small cellar stage is astounding. Also, a whole host of different club nights made the foundations quake and those black walls sweat. Personal favourites were Electric Chair and Friends & Family where I shot black and white film in the heat. More recently the brilliant Hoya:Hoya made the basement its spiritual home.

'I’ve truly lost count of the number of times I have descended those cellar steps for a great night out. One of my favourite gigs ever was Roots Manuva in 2001 before he exploded. The biggest queue I ever saw was for Fabio when Soul:ution resided there a while. We had our Ex:ample Magazine parties there, and the most rammed-out I remember was a Stones Throw Records party with Madlib, J-Rocc and Monk One. It was so hot in there my camera took nearly an hour to adjust to the temperature of the room. The very hottest night in that venue though has to be with the Nextmen.

'I know that I’m not alone among Manchester music lovers in missing the place already. But, like the last can of warm Red Stripe, all good things must come to an end. There are alternative basement venues now in and around the Northern Quarter. And the party doesn’t have to end until June 1. Until then expect a flurry of events, sweaty handshakes and very soggy eyes, as Manchester bids a fond farewell.'

Check The Roadhouse Facebook page and Twitter for the latest info on events from the venue.

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