Room with a view: Live music at the Deaf Institute

Matthew Britton

Once derelict, Manchester’s Deaf Institute is now arguably the best small live music venue in the city

Not so long ago, the Grade II-listed Deaf and Dumb Institute was an abandoned shell, loved only by pigeons and history buffs. All that changed when the folk behind the Trof chain of bars got their hands on the place. They swiftly turned neo-Gothic decay into decadent wonder thanks to a winning combination of food, booze and live music.

In the blink of a fashionable eye, the Deaf Institute went from crumbling building-on-the-block to one of Manchester’s best-loved live music venues. Now, while perhaps not the live music force it may have been a couple of years back (when promoters Now Wave seemed desperate to put on a groundbreaking act there every other night), the Deaf Institute has gone from a bright young upstart to one of the most stable venues in the city.

Once a bright, young upstart; now a stable music venue

Though most nights are taken up by student-centric club nights (aimed more at the art-school crowd than anything else, mercifully), the enchanting surrounds of the upstairs music hall, complete with giant glitterball, means that the Deaf Institute is still possibly the best small (ish) venue in the city. Of course, the move away from constantly putting on live shows is likely based on economics – club night-goers spend more and turn up in numbers far more plentiful than, say, the fans of a Fleet Foxes side-project – but few other spaces have the capacity to make show as special as here.

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