Time Out says
A majestic, historic venue that attracts the biggest names in pop and indie
The latest addition to Manchester's thriving music scene is also one of the most exciting and spectacular. For years, the ground floor of this magnificent hall was a cheesy nightclub called Branningans. When that closed, it seemed that the whole building would remain boarded up until someone decided to replace it. Little did people know that a Grade II listed Wesleyan chapel, a place where Sir Winston Churchill had once delivered a public address, lay hidden above.
In 2013, Manchester International Festival worked with the new owners Trof, the people behind other great Manchester venues such as Gorilla and the Deaf Institute, restoring and reviving this truly spectacular space for performances by, among others, Goldfrapp, Mogwai and Maxine Peake in The Masque of Anarchy. Thank the musical gods they did.
The main space is astonishing. You emerge through a dark wood panelled corridor into the main hall and (if it’s your first time) you’ll more than likely gasp at the sight before you. What was once a speaking platform is now the stage, the remains of what was once a magnificent organ providing a grand backdrop to performers. Immaculate stained glass windows surround the audience and adorn the ceiling as well, throwing light of different hues in all directions. On two floors, a stalls and a circle area, the audience are as entranced by the building as they are by the artist. It's a very, very special space.
A year on from MIF13 and the plans to open the former Brannigans ground floor as a full restaurant, bar and café move on apace and the line-up of artists performing rivals that of far more established venues in the city. Before the end of the year, Sam Smith, Lamb, Metronomy and Lykke Li and others will grace this magnificent hall, where the sound quality matches the impressive visuals.