Manchester’s Fortunes Rise and Fall with Its Sports Clubs

Albert Hall in Manchester, where Bob Dylan played the electric guitar to the boos of the audience.
Albert Hall in Manchester, where Bob Dylan played the electric guitar to the boos of the audience.

I had dinner with Jonathan Gough last night, at a Brazilian restaurant in the city called Fazenda, where waiters continuously brought giant skewers of beef and other meats that they carved slices off for us.

Jonathan, one of the managers of Marketing Manchester, said that it’s amazing how much the city’s tourism is affected by its Premier league football clubs.  If Man U is has a player from a certain country, say, like Sweden, there will be hundreds of thousands of overnight bookings from fans who want to watch him play.  Even if the team isn’t winning the top of the league, the number of people who come on a business holiday/incentive trip to Manchester for a weekend match is dramatic.

The city’s skyline is awash with cranes.  I counted seven from the tram stop at Deansgate. So many hotels, apartments, and other huge buildings are going up.  Apparently, many Spaniards love coming and living in Manchester, there is a real connection between the two cities.  There are even music clubs in Barcelona that play Manchester music–The Smiths, Oasis, Joy Division, Human League etc.

Music clubs are everywhere and one of the hot local musician/DJs is Mr Scruff, who also owns a teashop here.  A venue that’s famous for local music is called The Band on the Wall, and was named because to fit the crowd, in the 1940s they created a stage that’s actually in the wall, above the dancers.

We had dinner tonight at Evelyn’s in the Northern Quarter, and I visited two music clubs after our dinner. First up was Matt and Phreds, where a super tight jazz band was playing their own straight up jazz tunes and some standards. The drummer was incredibly talented, I spent the whole time watching how he deftly handled the drums.

Then I found the second club on my list, Night and Day Cafe.  A motley assortment of horns was on stage, clarinet, two saxes, a tuba and they played their own versions of songs, perhaps you might call it Klezmer with horns. Then a duo came on, a woman on fiddle and a man on guitar, and they rocked it. It got even better when they were joined by a cellist.

Mr Scruff is famous for his five-hour DJ sessions at Band in the Wall, and I’m sorry to say that the next show is next month. But I hope to catch a reggae singer there on Friday night before I fly back home.

Manchester’s music scene has a rich history and there is no sign that it’s slowing down.