From legendary venues that have witnessed the birth of iconic bands to cosy hidden gems that showcase emerging talents, Manchester’s live music scene beckons both locals and tourists alike.
If you’re an avid tune seeker, this article is your backstage pass to the city’s top bars that offer not just a refreshing pint but also an unforgettable experience, with open mic nights, bands, DJs and more, where rhythm and melody blend seamlessly with the clinks of glasses and the energy of enthusiastic crowds.
So, let the music play as begin as we embark on a journey through Manchester’s finest music establishments, where the stage is set, the amps are turned up to 11, and the spotlight shines brightest on the soul-stirring sounds of live music.
If you’re looking for some live music in Manchester on an impromptu night out, this is the list for you.
Best live music bars in Manchester
Sonta is a beautiful spot to relax and listen to some classy music in the heart of the city.
Incredibly, it’s free entry on Monday, Thursday and Sunday. On Fridays and Saturdays, it’s just £5 for a great night of tunes. (Entry is free before 8pm Friday).
Every table booking is in with a chance to win a £50 gift card.
More than just a bar, Sonata welcomes you with warm hospitality and live music every night. Relax and enjoy the entertainment as their friendly team serve you at your table.
Sonata is the ideal setting for a spontaneous drink or a special night to remember.
3, St Ann’s Alley, Manchester M2 6AJ
Matt & Phreds
Matt & Phred’s is a Live Music venue located in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
Book a table for a gig by calling 0161 273 5495, or you can just turn up on the night if you’re happy standing and fancy some spontaneous great live music.
If you book a stage side table on a Friday or Saturday night be prepared to have people dancing around you.
For a quieter night try a Wednesday or Thursday night for a more intimate, laid-back gig.
64 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LW
The Corn Exchange
The Corn Exchange stands as a breathtaking historic building in the heart of Manchester, and on Thursday evenings, it comes alive with the soulful sounds of live music.
Welcome to Thursday Night Live, a musical experience in the stunning Edwardian atrium of this iconic venue.
From 6 pm to 9 pm, the air is filled with the melodic tunes of live acoustic performances. Professional musicians take the stage, serenading the audience with well-known classics and homegrown tunes, too.
Whether you’re dining with family, catching up with friends, or simply enjoying your own company, the ambience created by live music enhances the experience to another level.
The Corn Exchange boasts an incredible array of restaurants, each representing a culinary journey around the world. From tantalizing Asian delicacies to savoury European delights, there’s something to cater to every taste bud.
So, while you’re savouring delectable dishes, the melodic strains of live music provide the perfect backdrop to a memorable evening.
Exchange Sq, Manchester M4 3TR
An undiscovered treasure, The Fitzgerald exudes a captivating ambience, boasting exquisite furnishings and a nostalgic aura.
It embodies a touch of Great Gatsby allure within the Northern Quarter, earning the esteemed title of Design My Night Winner for Best Cocktail Bar.
In true prohibition-era fashion, The Fitzgerald embraces an air of enigma, concealed by a discreet entrance on a secluded lane, and adorned with dimly lit interiors that evoke a sense of mystery.
It flawlessly captures the essence of a classic speakeasy, adorned with vintage décor and 1920s glassware, renowned for its delectable cocktails and an energetic playlist.
On Wednesday evenings, the venue springs to life with the enchanting melodies of local jazz and blues musicians during our open mic night, extending well into the early hours.
And on Fridays and Saturdays, live music graces the space, ensuring endless entertainment for all who visit.
11 Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DB
Located bang in the middle of the northern Quarter, The Freemount is a cracking, buzzy place with live music most nights of the week.
Live music every Thursday night singing the classics, and you can even request your favourite songs. DJ’s come on later to keep the party going late into the night.
73-75 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1EB
Over four floors, YES is jam-packed with great drinks, events and much more.
Spread across four floors, the spot features a dark basement that doubles up as a club.
On the ground floor, a large social dining area is decorated with brightly coloured booths and aims to keep prices affordable, with deals on the resident pop-up kitchen until the evening.
The warehouse-style space also features a bright pink gig room, which will feature a regular roster of live bands and hot DJs.
Head all the way up to the top to find the roof terrace, a cool area characterised by outdoor seating, turquoise beams and plenty of plants.
38 Charles St, Manchester M1 7DB
Albert Schloss is an incredible venue for live music, with a jam-packed schedule of acts Monday to Friday.
From ‘Back to Mein’ on Mondays, Baby Grand Slam Wednesdays, Friday Frolich and Sunday Service, there’s something on most nights for you to enjoy.
You can check out their listings by clicking here.
27 Peter St, Manchester M2 5QR
Stage & Radio
Steeped in history, this two-floor nightlife destination is a Northern Quarter asset, with a jazz-influenced bar and subterranean club space packing a serious sound system.
Stage & Radio is hugely historically significant as it claims to be one of the oldest establishments in the heart of the city’s vibrant nightlife scene.
Its illustrious roots trace back to 1946 when it first opened its doors under the name Club 43, attracting influential figures from the world of jazz, including the pioneering musician Ronnie Scott.
Throughout the years, this iconic venue has played host to renowned artists such as Muse and Coldplay during their meteoric rise to fame.
Interestingly, it was at one of their performances that a talent scout from Universal Records discovered Coldplay, propelling them towards international stardom.
Notably, Stage & Radio also had a phase where it captivated salsa enthusiasts, becoming a popular destination for passionate dancers.
Since its transformation in approximately 2016, the establishment has continued to evolve and is a great place for some live music.
43 Port St, Manchester M1 2EQ
Lost Cat is a beautiful venue on Oldham Street, with a happy hour from 5 pm to 9 pm every day, where you can score buy one get one free on Cocktails.
They host live music on Thursdays, and every Friday and Saturday night, with great DJs to get you up and dancing.
Lost Cat also has a bottomless Brunch on Saturday and Sunday, and from 8pm on Sunday, they have a comedy night too.
64 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE
For some great music, the Oast House has you covered.
The Oast House host their very own mini music festival in the heart of Spinningfields, on 24th June, 29th of July and 27th of August not to mention live music most evenings.
Entry is free, so just rock up to enjoy live music from a great list of talented artists. DJ’s will also perform, with the drinks flowing and delicious street food if you need a snack.
Enjoy genres including; Rock, Pop, Soul, R&B, Funk, Disco, Blues
The Avenue, Courtyard, Manchester M3 3AY
SOUP is a gig & club space in the heart of Manchester’s northern quarter programming forward-thinking music and arts events, pulling deeply from the local area as well as artists from further afield.
To ensure every night is eclectic and financially accessible, SOUP caps ticket prices for most internal events at £10, but also offers cheaper tickets from £5.
You can check out their events by clicking here.
31-33 Spear St, Manchester M1 1DF
Band on the Wall
Band on the Wall has been at the very heart of Manchester culture for many years.
A showcase venue for some of the best music in the world, they have an internationally-acclaimed programme of live music events, both in-house and externally at venues across the UK.
While gaining a reputation for bringing the finest jazz, folk, blues and international music to Manchester, Band on the Wall also found itself at the centre of Manchester’s famed post-punk scene in the late 1970s when Buzzcocks, the Fall and Joy Division played some of their earliest gigs at the venue.
One thing’s for sure, it’s an amazing place to watch live music.
25 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JZ
Opened in May 2021, and serving up hearty Texan BBQ and blues music, The Blues Kitchen brings a touch of Southern soul to Manchester.
Soak up a live soundtrack of timeless blues, soul grooves and rock ‘n’ roll from the world-famous resident musicians, and feast on the southern-style barbecue, badass burgers and buffalo wings.
With brunch, lunch and supper, you can enjoy bourbon and local craft beers, or hang out and dance into the small hours indulging in delicious cocktails.
Find out more here.
13 Quay St, Manchester M3 3HN
An oasis of incredible food, drink, music and immersive entertainment, hidden in plain sight at Manchester’s Depot Mayfield.
From comedy, live music, DJs and more, this is a place you can’t afford to miss for a great night of entertainment.
Check out what’s on here.
11 Baring St, Manchester M1 2PZ
Set in the historic heart of Ancoats, Jimmy’s beautiful red-brick building on the corner of Blossom Street on Cutting Room Square is the go-to place for a Rock ‘n’ Roll party atmosphere in Manchester, and the tunes are great.
Set over two floors with fully stocked bars and plenty of seats for bums.
Jimmy’s is available for private events and parties across all floors.
You can check out their website here.
27 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6AJ