A sprawling, multi-venue complex attached to to Manchester University, where you’ll find big name bands on tour, sweaty revellers and a bit of commercial guff
Manchester’s gig potential has expanded of late, thanks to venues such as the Albert Hall and independent ventures such as Soup Kitchen. Manchester Academy, once the beating heart of the city’s live music scene, remains the last bastion of sweaty mosh pits, plastic pint glasses and paper tickets you can take home as a keepsake.
And even if trendier acts are choosing slightly more adventurous spots nowadays, there’s still a wide range of pop, rock and metal happening in any given month, with the odd tribute band, such as Toast – A Tribute to Oasis and UK Foo Fighters filling out the calendar. Part of Manchester University’s vast campus, you can buy your tickets from the student union box office or online, and the whole complex covers an impressive four stages.
Academy 1 is a vast, blank hall that does the job in terms of large, live acts. Within the union itself, the remainders have a little more charm. Academy 2 has the offbeat feel of a school exam hall, since that’s pretty much exactly what it is, whereas the smaller Academy 3 has a dingier feel. Club Academy delivers a more clubby vibe and a fairly pleasant lounge area to make up for its terrible sight lines, not to mention the faint odour of chips lingering from its daytime role as a canteen.
They’re all perfectly serviceable venues for loud, live music, but it does feel like the Academy has been somewhat left behind in time, especially considering its location on the fringes of the city centre. Granted, it may be on one of the busiest bus routes known to man, but if you’ve a final train to catch, it’s something of a pain. The area is littered with bars for pre- and post-gig drinks. Recommended is Big Hands, down from Academy 1, an appropriate choice given the wealth of classic music memorabilia on display, and a favourite of several Manchester musical heroes too.
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