It’s definitely not Sheffield which is absolutely shite for attracting touring bands. Find myself constantly having to travel to Leeds or Manchester since we only get decent gigs once in a blue moon. It’s weird cos it’s not like people don’t turn up when bands do play here - saw Parquet Courts at the Leadmill a few months ago and it was packed.
Leeds is great - best city outside London, although I do miss The Cockpit. I also really like The Trades Club in Hebden Bridge - a 35min train journey from Leeds.
I’m going to say Manchester, it’s not the best for either small local musician scenes, or big touring bands, or interesting one-offs, or well focused and curated programmes of stuff, or the best crowds, or the best venues. But it’s very good for each of those categories, and most of it takes place across a relatively small area. Also this is probably skewed because I’ve always lived here so I’ve always had an ear to what’s going on, but I can’t think of anywhere better for sheer variety of options.
Oh, and convenient distance to go to Liverpool or Leeds or even smaller places like Hebden Bridge or Preston, and be back sleeping in your own bed (if you’ve got a car you can add Sheffield, York, Birmingham to that list) is obviously a massive boon.
London is great in terms of venues and bands but the crowds all too often are just so fucking frustrating, so many people just talking through gigs with their mates, why the fuck do they bother? and these are often sold out gigs as well, sometimes not even massively popular bands but it’s sold out and you are standing there talking to your mobile marketing manager about some fucking ad campaign. I never can remember that happening in Glasgow and you have the barrowlands with the bouncy floor.
Absolutely. I went all the way up to Leeds from Bristol last weekend, just to see something at the Brudenell. OK, it was an eight hour two-room fest, but still. And I love the new Community Room too.
I mean, obviously the answer is London because when overseas bands just play one date, that’s where it takes place. I wish I could say it was Bristol, but our main “touring bands” space is the O2 Academy, surely the worst venue known to man. I have never been anywhere worse on my many travels, from tiny boltholes to arenas.
We had it pretty good a few years back before everywhere started shutting
Came here to post this! We used to get a ton of good stuff at The Harley and now there’s next to nothing. 3 gigs this year for me which is my lowest ever count. HMHB, Alvvays & Parquet Courts all at the Leadmill.
Been to one gig in the Brudenell. It was fine. Not quite sure why people from Leeds insist it’s the best venue in the world ever and all that but it was decent. Cheap booze was the highlight for me.
To that I would add… good sightlines, sound quality, pies, and run by people who genuinely care about the gig experience being a good one rather than just money. Although of course, if you care about making things good then hopefully you make money anyway.
It’s not just people in Leeds though is it? There are lots of bands that talk about it in the same way too. Bands love it, the punters (generally) love it, so they must be doing something right.
It’s more than a gig venue too. It’s an actual social club.
It’s in a pretty rough part of Leeds and locals and students treat each other with respect. They’ve made a massive effort to keep the regulars happy (that use it as a boozer, a place for a game of pool and to watch the football) but also give people loads of choice over drinks.
Hand pull is £3 a pint. You can get 4 cans of San Miguel for less than a tenner and the craft beer is a good £1 or £2 cheaper than anywhere else in town.
It all just gives a good vibe all round that seems to translate to the bands loving the place which makes them play better and a distinct lack of knobheads.
I live in Leeds but am from Manchester so giving such gushing praise is actually quite difficult since it’s full of Leeds fans
And the other great thing is the owner, Nathan, is very passionate about live music. He puts something on every night of the week - regardless of whether six or 600 turn up,
Reckon it’s Manchester - Leeds is good but a lot of international bands do Manchester as their only northern date so I’ve had to travel there for half the gigs I’ve been to in the past few months.
When I started the thread I guessed that Glasgow and Leeds would feature highly.
I’ve lived in both - Glasgow in the early-mid '90’s when I went to university. And I left Leeds a few years ago after living there for 7 or 8 years.
I’d say Glasgow in the mid-'90’s was OK, the Barras was outstanding obviously but the undercard was a bit lacking. Most things passing through King Tuts, and beyond that there wasn’t a lot (Cathouse and Nice and Sleazy from memory), but looking at current listings it looks to be much much better.
I really enjoyed Leeds and would also sing the praises of the Brudenell. I think the best thing is the booking policy, not sure there’s any venue in the UK with gets as many up and coming bands of a certain size passing through it and in the time I lived in Leeds it went from strength to strength. If I was being churlish I would say that the Leeds music was a bit too focussed on there - in the time I was there the Cockpit and Common Place closed which pushed more music out to Headingley. Shortly before I left the Belgrave Music Hall opened, but I really didn’t like there. I also missed the end of lots of gigs at the Brudenell in the rush to get the last train home from the station (I also missed the occasional train).
Completely agree about Sheff and Edinburgh punching well below their weight in terms of gigs. I’ve also spent a bit of time in Oxford and Cambridge and they also seem to be lacking, particularly for places with big young populations. And I guess Bradford suffers from being so close to Leeds but for somewhere with a similar population it’s dead.
Anyone got any thoughts about the best place in the world to be a gig goer? I lived in Melbourne after Glasgow and that seemed to be thriving, no idea how it is nowadays. I’ve also enjoyed Berlin when I’ve been there.
There’s just a complete lack of mid-sized venues in Edinburgh nowadays. For varying reasons (most of which are touched with a council that’s not exactly supportive of live music or venues), we’ve lost Electric Circus, Venue, Studio 24…and nothing’s really sprang up in their place. Only Summerhall (which is a decent space) has stepped in to plug that gap. Liquid Rooms appear to have just given up entirely on gigs recently.
Can’t complain too much with regards to small venues, we’re quite lucky to have held on to Sneaky Pete’s, Henry’s Cellar Bar, Leith Depot (although it’s future was looking a bit shaky for a while due to private development), but there’s not really anything there to bridge the gap between those and your Usher Hall/Queens Halls.
Leith Theatre reopened last year and that fits the bill but is bafflingly underused for gigs.
Of course, it doesn’t help that no buggers turn up to gigs in Edinburgh now too.
Quite surprised that Brighton hasn’t been mentioned yet. Always seems to be quite a bit on on the rare occasion I’ve passed through there. At least as much as in Leeds, anyway.