Anybody who is even remotely interested in music will have reason to visit the Manchester Academy. Some of the best acts from all over the world play here.
Set in the Manchester University Students’ Union, and the adjacent building, Manchester Academy has four gig areas. Academy 1 is the large, separate purpose-built, some would say shed-like, area, which annually plays host to the Freshers’ Fair mayhem, but all-year-round offers some of the best bands and performers known to man (and some duff ones too). Academy 2 on the second floor of the Student Union is a sizeable space, if not slightly reminiscent of a church hall. Academy 3 is smaller still and is situated on the third floor, while Club Academy, in the basement, is a small yet perfectly formed area for more dance floor orientated action.
Inside, each area is uniformly dark, with no real decorative leanings, apart from luminous lighting, a stage area and service points for booze.
The crowd that are in attendance depends on what band or act is on. Being a student union expect a large proportion of students, but the diversity of events means that it can draw in anyone. Even Mancs, who can’t stand the sight of students, will have to endure overhearing chit-chat about legends, student loans and how ghetto Fallowfield is to see their favourite band. Priceless. The gigs generally attract like-minded music souls, so expect a friendly vibe and lively atmosphere.
The bouncers and door staff are always thorough with bag checks, but will have a bit of good natured banter with most people on the way in or out. The bar staff are friendly and quick to serve. The only downside is that queues can be obscene, especially during the intervals.
A wide spectrum of musical tastes is catered for here – hip-hop, indie, metal, reggae, dance, amongst others - and ticket prices are reasonable. Expect to pay a few extra quid for a gig in Academy One (current ticket prices range from £12 to £32 depending on the event). In the other spaces prices are between £5 and £15 on average.
To give you an idea of the selection on offer: Ladytron, The Whip, De La Soul, Obie Trice and Amy Winehouse have all played here. They also have regular unsigned nights showcasing Manchester’s up and coming talent. Check out the listings and you’re sure to find at least a couple gigs worth clearing your schedule for.
Nothing spectacular pours from the pumps across these venues. Not that you’d expect a rare Flemish beer to be present, it might be nice, but highly unlikely. You can get Carlsberg or Fosters for £2.65 a pint, Kronenbourg at £3.10 and John Smiths for £2.55 a pint. The student favourite, Strongbow is £2.65 and don’t be surprised to see the little pot-noodle eating academics turning it into a Snakebite. No, surprisingly, they didn’t become extinct in the 80s. Probably your best option is to go for tins of Red Stripe at £3.20. The most popular spirits are Jack, it’ll put hairs on your chest, Daniels (£2.20, double measure for an extra £1) and Smirnoff red (£1.95).
The Last Word
Over its various different spaces, The Academy caters for everything from big name bands to up and coming talent. If you’re into music you’ll see your favourite artists here.