Historic gigs that happened in Manchester

Bowie, Dylan, Hendrix and The Beatles have all played in Manchester. We've put together a list of some of our favourite historic gigs to happen in the city. Have we missed any out?

The Beatles - ABC Cinema , (now The Apollo) 1963

The Beatles performed two shows at the ABC Cinema in Ardwick, now the O2 Apollo. Pathe News filmed the famous four’s first show, performing She Loves You and Twist and Shout. This became an eight-minute feature film, with clips from backstage and crowd scenes. 


The Sex Pistols – Lesser Free Trade Hall, Peter Street 1976

Voted one of the most important gigs of all time, The Sex Pistols’ show at the Lesser Free Trade Hall arguably kicked off the music movement in Manchester. Morrissey of The Smiths, Mark E Smith of The Fall, members of The Buzzcocks and future members of Joy Division and New Order were all in attendance that night.  

Iggy Pop – The Apollo, Stockport Road 1977

Iggy Pop performed twice at The Apollo in 1977, in March and September. In March, Iggy was joined by none other than David Bowie on the keyboard. The show was recorded and released in 2006 as a live album, ‘Lust For Live’. Not bad.

The Clash – Elizabeth Ballroom, Belle Vue 1977

In November 1977, The Clash joined the list of legendary bands and artists to play at Belle Vue. The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart, Bob Marley, Elton John and Deep Purple had all played at the venue, the site has since been redeveloped.

Jimi Hendrix – Palace Theatre, Oxford Street 1967

The Jimi Hendrix Experience was joined by Pink Floyd in November 1967. Jimi and Co reportedly stayed at the Excelsior Hotel in Wythenshaw after the show.


(Credit: Manchester Digital Music Archive)

Madonna – The Hacienda, Whitworth Street West 1984

Madonna’s first ever appearance in the UK was at the now legendary Hacienda. The ‘Queen of Pop’ shared the bill with a then little known Morrissey, and the show was broadcast live in an episode of The Tube. 

The Smiths (first ever gig supporting Blue Rondo a la Turk) – The Ritz, Whitworth Street West 1982

The Smiths, then made up of Morrissey, Mike Joyce, Johnny Marr and Dale Hibbert, who was later replaced by Andy Rourke, supported Blue Rondo a la Turk at The Ritz in October 1982. In an interview, Marr later said of the gig, “When we did the first Smiths gig here my main memories of it were terror and vast emptiness as there was only about 11 people there.”

Pink Floyd – Manchester University MDH (now Academy 2) 1969

In November 1969, Pink Floyd played at the Manchester University Main Debating Hall, which is now Academy 2. The band were supported by Stone The Crows and Nova Express Lightshow. The Manchester Independent, the Manchester University student newspaper at the time, wrote: “It is difficult to imagine the Pink Floyd who played the Free Trade Hall last term fitting their sound  into MDH.” 


(Credit: the-salreroom.co.uk)

New Order (first ever gig as New Order) – Manchester Beach Club at Oozits, Shudehill 1980

Oozits, previously known as the Picador, played host to New Order in July 1980, the first show after the death of the Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis. The venue was situated on Newgate Street, where the Shudehill Bus Station now stands. 


(Credit: Manchester Digital Music Archive)

David Bowie – The Hardrock (now a B&Q store), Stretford 1972

The Hardrock in Stretford played host to David Bowie in September 1972. The gig on Greatstone Road cost £1 for a ticket. 


Bob Dylan (“Judas!” gig) – Lesser Free Trade Hall, Peter Street 1966

On 17 May 1966, one of the most famous heckles in music history occurred at a gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall. Dylan was branded as “Judas” by a member of the audience, after the American singer/songwriter was seen as betraying his roots after going electric.