Music in Manchester and the North

Johnny James, Managing Editor

T. S. Eliot once contended that “April is the cruelest month”. I’m not convinced, Tom. Enter January – the month when everyone’s skint, it’s freezing, and a ruddy plumpness is all that remains of Christmas. And that is precisely why we need some amazing gigs to look forward to. Of course, a lot hangs in the balance for live music as we head towards the new year, but we’re veering towards the side of optimism as we round up our highlights for January and February.

Symphonic punk outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor make achingly beautiful records that flit between elegy and aggression with a widescreen grandeur. Spring 2021 saw them release one of the best albums of their 27-year career, and they’re bringing it to Manchester Academy in January.

Bristol EBM band SCALPING – purveyors of a pummelling blend of techno, punk, post-rock and metal – have quickly established themselves among the country’s most electrifying live bands, igniting venues and festivals across UK and Europe with a precise, unrelenting energy. Catch them at Salford den of debauchery The White Hotel, supported by Manchester’s own Mandy, Indiana.

Abstract Orchestra are a Leeds-based hip-hop big band featuring musicians that have recorded and toured with the top acts in the world. At The Blues Kitchen, watch them perform some of J Dilla’s best loved cuts from his sprawling back catalogue. Think jazz orchestration meets hip-hop beats, guest rappers and vocalists.

Reaching further into the year, seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Billie Eilish is heading to Manchester Arena with Happier Than Ever, The World Tour, while Berlin-based chanteuse Anika – a founding member of cult electro-psych outfit Exploded View – will be performing tunes from her avant-pop album Change at YES.

Read about all of the above, below, and remember that you can listen to all of the artists we cover in our Spotify playlist:

Here are our picks

More in Music

Rock and Goal
Activity Until 27 February 2022, from £9.99

Rock and Goal Tour

Join Joe Feeley a Mancunian through and through, who guides you into Manchester’s two pillars of cultural excellence with his Rock and Goal tour.

Interruptions: Sounds – Online with Holden Gallery, Manchester
Exhibitions Until 5 August 2022, FREE

Interruptions: Sounds – Online with The Holden Gallery, Manchester

‘Interruptions: Sounds’ is an online collection of new audio works by seven artists, spanning spoken word, ambient sound and musical tracks.

Activity Until 1 March 2022, FREE

Cultural Winter For All at MediaCity and Salford Quays

MediaCity has a packed programme of festive exhibitions, light illuminations and shows, making it a cultural winter for all.

Activity Until 15 February 2022, from £5

World of Music Choir

Band on the Wall’s World of Music choir makes singing accessible for everyone regardless of musical ability and experience, learning songs in harmony by ear.

Music Until 8 July 2022, from £0.00

RNCM Lunchtime and Spotlight Concerts

It’s not just Symphony Orchestras or big name artists that perform as the RNCM, their lunchtime and spotlight concerts showcase the best student performers in more intimate settings.

Music 29–30 January 2022, from £0.00

RNCM Brass Band Festival at RNCM

The RNCM Brass Band Festival is back with a two-day showcase of some of the UK’s leading brass bands, plus top international soloists.

Music 4 February 2022 7:30 pm, from £15.00

RNCM Symphony Orchestra with Anu Tali (conductor) at RNCM

The RNCM Symphony Orchestra is joined by organist Anna Lapwood and conductor Anu Tali for an evening of specially selected symphonic works.

Music 6 February 2022 7:00 pm, from £22.00

Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers: Tribe at RNCM

RNCM welcomes back the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers for a show of skill, stamina and red-hot rhythms to stir your soul.

Music 13 February 2022 7:30 pm, from £18.00

The Manchester Video Game Orchestra at RNCM

Hear the music from your favourite video games like you’ve never heard it before with this concert from The Manchester Video Game Orchestra.

Culture Guides


Featuring Derek Jarman, the French New Wave and a Hollywood romance for the ages, we look at the film events coming up in early 2022.

Jocelyn McGregor, Mantle


It’s shaping up to be a wonderful year for exhibitions in Manchester and the North, and January brings with it some very exciting shows.

Family things to do


As we welcome in 2022, we look ahead to exciting family activities and fun days out taking place across Manchester and the North in the new year. 


As we dive headlong into our reading and writing events for 2022, there’s plenty lined up – some online, some in person and some incorporating a bit of both.

Theatre in Manchester


Awe-inspiring dance-circus, slapstick-style Sherlock and a brand new venue opening for Shakespeare lovers in Merseyside. We’ve got everything crossed for theatre in 2022.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

The Real Greek Manchester

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

Start the year with something special and by checking out some of the most exciting restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North.

Tours and Activities

The new year is a perfect time to get creative. It’s all about fresh starts, a shift in ideas and creating space in your life for growth.

Things to do right now

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Music Until 8 July 2022, from £0.00

RNCM Lunchtime and Spotlight Concerts

Activity Until 15 February 2022, from £5

World of Music Choir

Rock and Goal
Activity Until 27 February 2022, from £9.99

Rock and Goal Tour

Activity Until 31 August 2022, from £0.00

Tours in Chester