Music in Manchester and the North

Johnny James, Managing Editor

From basement crawlers to stadium stars, there are some electric live acts heading our way this summer. Here are our top picks.

XTC were one of the sharpest British bands to emerge from the new wave explosion of the late ’70s, their bright, occasionally melancholy art pop gleefully trampling on conventions set the day before. And yet being an XTC fan was and is something of a lonely business; they flew under radar throughout their career and rarely performed live, their last show being a staggering 41 years ago. Hence original drummer Terry Chambers forming EXTC and releasing some truly wonderful songs from their four-decade confinement.

Hey Colossus have long specialised in producing an unholy racket. At times skirting the edges of metal, at others digging into Krautrock, their deep, heavy psychedelia often makes for a transcendent experience on record, and by all accounts their live shows take things to a whole new level. The White Hotel, Mecca for the city’s creatives, revellers and shadow dwellers, is a beautifully fitting venue for a band who’ve always operated by their own co-ordinates.

The Magnetic Fields have long held cult status within the indie world, their short, sharp songwriting wit undimmed three decades into their career. This summer, Stephin Merritt and co are heading over the pond to perform intimate, orchestral arrangements of songs spanning their discography, from 1999’s classic 69 Love Songs to 2020’s Quickies. They’re only doing one North of England show, and it’s pretty rare, generally, to catch them over here, so if you’re a fan, don’t skip their Leeds gig in September.

Kendrick Lamar is victory lapping the world in the wake of his excellent fifth record Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers as well as a masterful headline performance at Glastonbury. If you watched that Worthy Farm set – either in the flesh or on telly – you’ll know what an incredible live rapper he is, and how much thought is put into his productions. There are somehow still tickets left for his show at Manchester’s AO Arena. Snap them up while you still can.

What else? Symphonic punk outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the best flora-themed hypno-folk-metal collaboration you’ll have heard in recent months (Richard Dawson and Circle), and a rundown of the best summer festivals in the North.

Here are our picks

  • 1. The Strokes at Lytham Festival

    The Strokes
    Jason McDonald.

    The Strokes at The Proms Arena, Blackpool, 8 July 2022, from £61.85 - Book now

    The Strokes, darlings of the early noughties indie rock scene, are heading to Lytham Festival this summer – their only North of England date this year.

  • 2. Richard Dawson & Circle at Gorilla

    Antti Uusimäki

    Richard Dawson & Circle at Gorilla, Manchester, 8 July 2022, from £21.00 - Book now

    Geordie troubadour Richard Dawson performs with Finnish Heavy Metal band Circle in support of their collaborative album — the greatest flora-themed hypno-folk-metal record you’ll have heard in recent months.

  • 3. Hey Colossus at The White Hotel

    Hey Colossus

    Hey Colossus at The White Hotel, Salford, 16 July 2022, from £9.50 - Book now

    Hey Colossus have long specialised in producing an unholy racket. At times skirting the edges of metal, at others digging into Krautrock, their deep, heavy psychedelia often makes for a near transcendent experience on record, and by all accounts their live shows take things to a whole new level.

  • 4. Bluedot 2022 at Jodrell Bank

    Bluedot Festival 2022 at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, Macclesfield, 22–24 July 2022, from £59.75 - Book now

    After two years without Bluedot, the 2022 instalment is going to be special one. Björk, Mogwai and Groove Armada top the bill, but there are some great acts lower down on the genre-hopping lineup, too. Check out our highlights.

  • 5. EXTC at Band on the Wall

    EXTC by Dommett Young
    Image by Dommett Young.

    EXTC at Band on the Wall, Manchester, 29 July 2022 - Book now

    XTC were one of the sharpest British bands to emerge from the new wave explosion of the late ’70s, but they a sadly short-lived live act. Hence original drummer Terry Chambers forming EXTC and releasing some truly wonderful songs from their four-decade confinement.

  • 6. The Magnetic Fields at O2 Academy Leeds

    via Leeds Inspired

    The Magnetic Fields at O2 Academy Leeds, Manchester, 1 September 2022, from £30.00 - Book now

    The Magnetic Fields have long held cult status within the indie world, their short, sharp songwriting wit undimmed three decades into their career. This summer, Stephin Merritt and co are heading to the UK to perform intimate, orchestral arrangements of songs spanning their discography, from 1999’s classic 69 Love Songs to 2020’s Quickies.

  • 7. Manchester Psych Fest 2022

    Manchester Psych Fest

    Manchester Psych Fest at The Ritz, Manchester, 3 September 2022, from £45 - Book now

    Manchester Psych Fest, the UK’s leading psychedelic music and arts festival, returns this September, and with the second wave of artists now announced, the 9th edition of Psych Fest is set to be the best yet as it takes over Manchester for one day only.

  • 8. Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Manchester Academy

    Godspeed You! Black Emperor
    Yannick Grandmont

    Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Manchester Academy, Manchester, 23 September 2022, from £30.25 - Book now

    In 2021, symphonic punk outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor released one of the best albums of their 27 year career. They’re bringing it to Manchester Academy in September.

  • 9. Manchester Folk Festival 2022

    The Drystones

    Manchester Folk Festival at HOME Manchester, Manchester, 13–15 October 2022, from £13.20 - Book now

    Manchester Folk Festival is back with a huge line-up and a new venue on the books. We take a look at the artists playing at this year’s city-wide festival, from Grace Petrie to Lady Maisery.

  • 10. Kendrick Lamar at AO Arena

    Renell Medrano

    Kendrick Lamar at Manchester Arena, Manchester, 16 November 2022, from £64.50 - Book now

    Following a brilliant fifth album and a masterful headline performance at Glastonbury, Kendrick Lamar is victory lapping the world, calling in at Manchester’s AO Arena on 16 November.

  • 11. BADBADNOTGOOD at Albert Hall

    Jamal Burger

    BADBADNOTGOOD at Albert Hall at Albert Hall, City Centre, 10 December 2022, from £17.50 - Book now

    In support of their expansive 2021 album Talk Memory, BADBADNOTGOOD play their biggest show in Manchester to date, at Albert Hall.

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Exhibitions Until 5 August 2022, FREE

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Music Until 8 July 2022, from £0.00

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Culture Guides

Cinema

Explore Hollywood history, queer rarities and squirm-inducing horror across the big screens of Manchester and the North this month.

Patron Mono by Carolina Caycedo, image depicts a figure standing in a room with a three channel video emitting a yellow light

Exhibitions

From immersive playgrounds and mythological journeys to tackling injustice, this month is filled with fresh art to see all around the North.

Geronimo Festival 2022

Families

Festivals, shows, museums, and much, much more – there’s plenty of summer fun to be had for families in Manchester and the North, whatever the weather. Here are our top picks.

Poet Caroline Bird

Literature

There’s plenty of sunshine-drenched reading to immerse yourself in from established names and emerging talent, poets and prose writers alike, both in real life as well as online.

Theatre in Manchester

Theatre

Eclectic theatre festivals, silly slapstick and dreamy outdoor shows, there’s lots of brilliant performances happening inside and outside over the summer.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

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

Baekdu Korean BBQ Restaurant

Food and Drink

Plan for July’s food and drink outings at some of the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North.

Tours and Activities

Get out in the sun this month with tours and activities that will have you engaging positively with the climate, taking the plunge in Salford Quays and getting creative.

Things to do right now

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Music Until 8 July 2022, from £0.00

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