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UPCOMING: MIF 2019 announces first wave of artists


Now in it’s eighth year, Manchester International Festival is proudly, a festival that unites creatives from different backgrounds and demographics. By weaving them together in a celebration of cultural unity that takes place all across Greater Manchester, it’s a biannual event that immerses all of the city together and next takes place from the 4th to the 21st July 2019.

Don’t peg this as any specific type of creative festival – MIF covers the whole spectrum – having premiered many a distinguished act from the fields of architecture to visual arts and everything in between. Think Björk, The xx, Maxine Peake, Zaha Hadid Architects, all have performed, produced and presented work at previous versions of the festival. What’s more, Manchester is rife with a collection of unique sites that make for prime locations to host international talent. To name a few that are sure to capture your attention: Kanye West performed his first ever Manchester show at the O2 Apollo for MIF back in 2007; Kenneth Branagh and Maxine Peake were cast in a portrayal of MACBETH at St Peter’s Church in Ancoats in 2013 and last year saw New Order reunite at the old Granada Studios complete with a 12-piece synthesiser orchestra of students from RNCM.


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Well in advance of the next instalment, the lineup is now already starting to emerge. Just this week, MIF announced that the opening festival slot will be hosted by none other than Yoko Ono. As one of the most respected artists in the world, Ono invites us to join her for her first display in Manchester at Manchester Cathedral, to ring those age old bells and call for the world to welcome peace with open arms, as thousands of voices from the Cathedral and abroad will sing out. Stating “PEACE IS POWER”, the display titled ‘BELLS OF PEACE’ will mark the opening of Manchester International Festival 2019, with one of the most reputable acts of recent generations.

Following on from this, the man of the moment Idris Elba presents ‘TREE’, in partnership with Young Vic Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah as they search for the soul and spirit of contemporary South Africa. An exploration within dance and film, with Elba’s debut album ‘Mi Mandela’ as the soundtrack, the performance is set to show a journey through the ever changing country by way of one young man as the feature star. From the open on the 4th through to the 10th July, the duo will be taking over Upper Campfield Market Hall for this one-off, world-premiere meeting of two creative minds.

The final announcement comes in the form of another man of the hour – Skepta shares with us his own idea of what the future may hold for humanity. ‘DYSTOPIA987’ is to take place in a secret Manchester location that is as of yet undisclosed. With very little being shared in advance about the performance, other than an eerily cryptic name and the promise of a display that is dark and riveting, we’re already eagerly awaiting to see what the featuring musicians, performers and promised use of technology will evoke. MIF 2019 already cultivates the idea of a merger between performance techniques both old and new, by way of technology and the performers themselves. Expect the unexpected and if it hasn’t happened yet it soon will.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀


UPCOMING: FREE VIBES x MCR Live | 20.10.18


Now a classic amongst those in the know, Free Vibes is a monthly slot at Band On The Wall that pulls together a host of talented new acts and sets them up on one of the city’s most renowned stages. Muses of the Manchester music scene often reign in and present collaborated versions of the gig  including Sabotage and Amazing Radio so of course – it’s our turn.

With such a wide selection of talent across the country it was nigh on impossible to narrow down the amount of acts we had available to us – the choice was no where near easy! But our curated lineup sees a selection of artists that we’re sure will whet the appetites of many an attendee.

In the headline slot on Saturday 20th October are London based dream pop-sters Honey Moon. Making shapes with Manchester independent record label Heist Or Hit, the quartet are gracing us with their first Manchester gig and what better a place than the iconic Band On The Wall stage. Sultry dream pop oozes from each track they’ve thus far presented, including their recently released EP ‘Four More From…’ which has been met with adoring praise from fans of the up-and-coming “boys from the big smoke”.

Also on the bill are Manchester five-piece: URF, with their technicolour of female-fronted neo-psychedelic shoegaze. Just two days after, the diversity of this group holds it’s own as they support the one and only Brian Jonestown Massacre on the Sheffield leg of their current tour. Theirs is a sound unlike no other with theatrical vocals and powerful drums juxtaposed against a wave of spiralling guitar and keys, held together by a sturdy bass-line.

Earlier on in the evening are another fiercely female represented act in the form of Écru. Ambient, downtempo, and atmospheric, their sound presents a welcome calm to our Free Vibes evening, presented by the mesmerising vocals of Manchester singer Jade Mannion – a heavyweight amongst the ethereal, acoustic scene.

Last but certainly not least are the North West’s most promising new act, Saint Ivy, who recently made for a phenomenal headline set at Night & Day Cafe with their achingly-indie soundtrack that is sure to capture the attention of the floor each and every time they are presented. Eclectic enough? Sign up for your FREE tickets and we’ll see you at the door!


Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

off the record

UPCOMING: Off The Record Festival & Conference | 15-16.11.18


Having been graced with two sold-out years, Manchester’s Northern Quarter multi-venue live music event and conference Off The Record is set for another show-stopping year. The logic goes that trusted curators nominate the artists they are tipping for the year ahead to perform the stellar event before a surprise reveal just days before – however, this year it’s going a little differently! We’re extremely happy to announce that this year we’re, once again, a part of the curation team for this years event alongside a distinguished array of influencers including our very own Everything Everything, Rob Da Bank and faves The Orielles.

With the spotlight being on over 40+ budding artists selected by the panel, gig-goers have the chance to see blossoming bands and talented artists across a range of genres perform in eight legendary music venues all within a 5-minute stretch of Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

With so many incredible new artists coming out of Manchester, let alone the UK, our focus was to shine a light on a couple of artists that you might not have seen before – artists that have no ties to the city. However, choosing a new, current act with a sense of vigour and sound that’s eclectically timeless was of course no easy task, taking into account the depth of the current music scene (in fact, we only managed to whittle down out selections to a ‘Top 8!’ – sorry, guys!).

HOWEVER, on the bands we put forward, two selections have come out – and we couldn’t be more excited to shine a well-deserved spotlight on these groundbreaking artists (…and get to know a few others in the meantime!) INTRODUCING:


Himalayas are the 4-peice indie-rock outfit you won’t be able to get out of your head. Hailing all the way from Cardiff, the young-band have already amassed a bit of a cult following with over 7million Spotify plays and having played almost everywhere this year; from SXSW to Reading & Leeds, supporting Kaiser Chiefs across the country and with plenty of This Feeling gigs crammed in between. Although we’ve penned these guys since 2016, the band have since gained notoriety for a set that is highly energetic, full of melody & cheekiness with ripping hooks – listen to this band once, and you wouldn’t be surprised that they’re all fans of Queens Of The Stone Age, Arctic Monkey’s, Jack White Straight up Rock’n’Roll. Liked The Blinders last year? You’ll LOVE these.


Likened to The Cure & Cocteau Twins, all the way down in Brighton lie the swooning pot-punk/ dream-pop sounds of Thyla. Blending two quite opposing genres is no mean-feat and we can assure you that whether you go in to watch Thyla after listening to their music, or you rock up without the prior-knowledge, your head will be turned. It’s hard for us to compare this band to others, which in our books is one of the biggest compliments – if pushed, Millie Duthie’s at-points ethereal-and-others-feroiciously-jauting vocals evoke early Wolf Alice or a much-grungier Black Honey. Either way, they’re boss.  After supporting INHEAVEN on their most-recent tour, with a somewhat erratic stage presence and roller-coaster tracks, Thyla have earned a lot of new fans and we know that you will be next on the list.

But, these are only our picks! Check out the full list for this year’s Off The Record below, and pre-order your tickets through this link.  With two hard-hitting bands on our bill… I guess we’ll see you in the pit!

Who are you most looking forward to seeing?


UPCOMING: Glitterbox – 25.08.18


Flamboyant, extravagant and one hundred percent down-for-a-good-time, Glitterbox is making an appearance at Albert Hall this Saturday. The wonderfully hedonistic party will bring with it a gang of world-renowned DJs as it steps up to the proud position of Manchester Pride’s official after party.

The likes of Roger Sanchez, Simon Dunmore and Hifi Sean will be joined by dancefloor diva and superstar singer Julie McKnight, most famously known for her hands-in-the-air, loved up vocals on Kings of Tomorrow’s 2001 deep house underground crossover hit Finally. 

The Albert Hall has seen numerous special guest singers grace the stage at disco events in recent years, most notably with the La Discotheque series, which featured Jocelyn Brown, Candi Staton & Evelyn ‘Champagne’ king. Glitterbox, no stranger to putting on a large-scale get-down in their spectacular and notorious residency at Hï Ibiza, will have no problem stepping up to put their mark on the venue, centre stage.

But the glory’s not all for McKnight, let’s take a closer look at those DJs. Roger Sanchez is a man who needs no introduction, bursting onto the scene in 1990 with his club hit Luv Dancin’ under the moniker Underground Solution, Sanchez has remained active for almost three decades since then. In between remixing Michael Jackson, Daft Punk and Madonna, Sanchez won the top rank in the 2015 Official Global DJ Rankings in the category of Top Global House. All the while he’s been consistently making dancefloors around the world sweat, groove and rejoice into the wee small hours. 

Simon Dunmore, a Glitterbox favourite and managing director of Defected Records, has also been spreading the word of house and disco to the hungry masses for over 25 years. Simon, along with Defected co-founder Janet Bell, was responsible for importing and releasing the top ten garage house anthem Can’t Get Enough by Soulsearchers from Miami – not bad for a label’s first release.

Bringing Crystal Waters into 2017 with her hit Testify, dance music veteran, producer and DJ, Hifi Sean will also take the controls this weekend at Albert Hall. Rewind 25 years or so, and Sean Dickson was making baggy dance-rock as the lead singer for John Peel favourites The Soup Dragons. Since then, he’s carved out a career as a respected DJ who has recently made his return to clubland.

Arguably the main act of Glitterbox this weekend is going to be the people coming together to celebrate Manchester Pride. Now able to call itself one of the UK’s leading LGBT+ charities, Manchester Pride and Glitterbox will join forces in the ultimate party that stands up to discrimination on and beyond the dancefloor. As Shalamar put it so plainly back in ’82, it’s going to be a ‘night to remember’.


CATCH UP: Blackthorn Festival 2018


On foot, there’s a quaint, dusty woodland path through Etherow Country Park that takes you to Blackthorn Festival. A clearing makes way for a hill in the forest, surrounded by tents and three raised stages that make up the festival that’s become part of the local culture, unifying the music scene in one annual August weekend. Having grown from strength to strength since it’s conception in 2013, this year saw the likes of Pete Doherty, We Are Scientists and Peter Hook & The Light take to the main stage.

Legends in their field, the general feeling was astonishment that such music notoriety as the artful dodger himself – Pete Doherty – had agreed to play at a festival with such a relatively unknown following. Perhaps it was the sense of community and the gathering of minds, maybe it was the open arms for independent artists or possibly it’s an accolade to his former lyrics beckoning to keep the Arts afloat.

“The only way out of the dustbowl or the farm for thee
Join a band or join the army”


Amongst the eclectic lineup were newcomers, quickly becoming maestros of the Manchester scene in their own right. The likes of Afghan Sand Gang, Creature Comfort, Hey Bulldog, RPMs and Deja Vega set sights ablaze by enticing fans new and old with their Northern guises. During the exhilarance of the event, we caught up with rising stars The Blinders shortly after they crept off from their main stage slot one afternoon.

The trio are longstanding advocates of the festival, which included headlining one of the smaller stages last year, which they enjoyed but felt a sense of pride to be on 2018’s main stage. “These kinds of festivals are so much better than the commercial ones” mentions lead singer Thomas Haywood whilst drummer Matty Neale acclaims the local festival and how it brings bands together who are at a similar point in their career: “you need them, they’re for the fans – this type of festival.” The Blinders debut album comes on to the scene on the 21st of September and if our previous experiences are anything to go by, it’ll be an unmissable moment for the Manchester residents.

Hot on the tail of any other rising acts are the four-strong, all-female, punk-grunge act Witch Fever. Lauded as being one of the best sets of the weekend, the girl gang quickly amassed a following from attendees at the festival. You could sense the admiration in the air as they played, so of course, we’d have been foolish not to to edge close to the backstage area for a few words with the band.


Witch Fever will soon release a lacquered blood-red vinyl of new single ‘Toothless’, which couldn’t be more in-keeping with the look of the Manchester-based quartet. Although the weekend has been their first festival experience, it appears to be an experience which has been met by a mutual appreciation: “from what we’ve seen we love it. Everyone is so friendly. It’s chill and a really nice environment.” There’s actually even a story to how Witch Fever came to be on the Blackthorn lineup, as explained by lead singer Amy-Hope Walpole. “The lineup was released and our (female) manager reached out to Blackthorn like ‘hey there are no women on your lineup’ then, credit to them, they put us on.”

This recent realisation from across the live music and festival scene beckons a calling for stronger female representation in music and the media. One particular event that’s impacted this particular for Witch Fever was when they were sexualised and leered at by a crowd and even another band at a recent Bristol gig. Speaking of this event Witch Fever mention that there has been an apology from Bristol’s Stag & Hound venue and a feeble response from the offending band member. “If you’re a woman to whom this happens all the time it’s horrible. To him as a man, it’s nothing. People don’t seem to realise when particular behaviour is sexist”. Thankfully this has only made the group stronger and pushes them to fight for the right to have women play a leading role in music. As it should be. Blackthorn Festival 2018 sets pulses raising and introduced fans to new discoveries with their musician-led, community-spirited event which only has room to grow.

Ahead of Blackthorn Festival 2018, we did a round up of what to look out for. Check out how the real-deal compared to our predictions!

Blackthorn festival

PREVIEW: Blackthorn Festival 2018
Photography – Trust A Fox, Words – Hannah Tinker

Celebrating a fifth birthday with Pete Doherty in attendance is a sentence you’d be forgiven for never thinking you’d hear. The Libertines front-man is set to be the main-stage headliner on Saturday 21st July as part of the Stockport-based 3-day event, Blackthorn Festival. Now celebrating half a decade since the event first started, this year sees possibly their grandest line-up yet with Joy Division and New Order legend Peter Hook fronting his accomplished self-made band – Peter Hook & The Light – in the headline slot on Sunday 22nd July. Blackthorn has hosted an array of acts, with previous names on the bill including the likes of Reverend And The Makers, The Enemy and Maximo Park, amongst many others. Each year Blackthorn seems to mature and flourish further, surpassing the intake of vivacious revellers from the year before and filling Whitebottom Farm out to the brink. It’s clear the masterminds behind Blackthorn are taking no prisoners in delivering this year’s festival line-up.


In amongst the achingly superior headline acts are sets that are equally likely to wet the appetite. Amongst our top picks are the likes of grunge enthused, Stockport-local (and MCR Live resident) Findlay who will be warming up for NYC indie rockers We Are Scientists on the Saturday evening’s main stage. Ahead of this, the feisty, underground and quickly-rising newcomers The Blinders are set to pulse their growing fan-base with a slot on Saturday afternoon. The Doncastrian trio have recently shot to local fame, and a fast-growing reputation outside this, thanks to their modest penchant for raw, pacing and wholly unapologetically political verses.

On this year’s Blackthorn bill, celebrating the wealth of exciting talent of the North seems to be a trend with Saturday also holding host to Manchester’s favourite DIY riot grrrl act – Witch Fever – who will be showcasing their acclaim to the sub-genre by way of eclectic vocals and post-punk, grunge riffs. And a throwback to the past, Saturday’s Paddock stage headliner sees underground Mancunian legends Twisted Wheel take to wrap everything together. Having formed in 2007, the punk-revivalists have garnered approval from the likes of everyone from Liam Gallagher to Paul Weller and in their lengthy career have even supported The Courteeners, Kasabian and Happy Mondays. With a wide, diverse and loyal fan-base, Twisted Wheel reformed last year complete with a new lineup and new album and after missing their set in Manchester earlier this year, we can’t wait to catch them live again.


Twisted Wheel will be playing at Blackthorn 2018

Kicking everything off, however, Friday 20th July sees an opener freshly encompassing the best of Manchester’s elite new coming acts. Tribute acts galore headline the evening including Inspiral Carpets very own Tom Hingely fronting the eulogy to his former band as The Kar-Pets host the main stage late into the first night. Ahead of this, Happy Mondaze honour Salford’s own alt-rock band with a comparably vivid set reminiscent of the Haçienda days. However, before this nod to the nostalgic, comes a host of Manchester’s radical new-wave talent for which the city is known for. Leading this are three-piece desert-rock outfit Afghan Sand Gang who boast atmospheric, synth-led tracks with a DIY edge that have enticed the likes of Cabbage band member Lee Broadbent: “They are infectious to the point it’s indescribable…” What more could you ask for?

Deja Vega lead the alternative Meadow stage on Friday. Hailed as elitists engaged in the music scene, the trio present modern Brit-psychedelia with an almost Gothic-like edge which stands for something new, diverse and wonderfully original. Fellow Mancunian brothers in arms (with a like-minded sound), Hey Bulldog, bring an intense sound that thrusts the trio ahead as one of the best acts to leak out of the cities flourishing psych-rock scene – keep your eyes and ears on them.

But it doesn’t stop here. Those who make it through to Sunday are rewarded with the likes of the aforementioned cultural legend Peter Hook, as well as 90’s maestros The Bluetones. Reaching acclaimed commercial success in their hay-day, the band reformed in 2015 and have been touring the UK (almost) ever since, beckoning an indie-rock throwback whilst still managing to garnish their masterful musical skill-set.

pete doherty blackthorn

Pete Doherty – will be playing at Blackthorn 2018

We’ve named just a few standout acts here, and not nearly all the talent that Blackthorn offers in 2018. So, with all of that, there’s only one thing for it… what are you waiting for?

Thanks to Trust A Fox for the photos from the Festival from 2017, and the snaps of those playing in 2018.


EVENT: Manchester Keeps on Dancing Pre-view party @ Hatch MCR

MCR Live and Red Bull are teaming up to make your bank holiday weekend with a Manchester Keeps on Dancing Pre-party.

Next month sees the release of Manchester Keeps on Dancing at HomeMCR, a new documentary that’s already being hailed as an understated masterpiece based on previews.

As many Mancunian music geeks including myself may know, documentaries based on Manchester music tend to go one of two ways. Long winded, rambling rants from old fogies about how amazing “The old days” were and how we missed out on the Hacienda. (Yeah, we know dad, I saw Sean Ryder on the I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and I’m pretty sure Bez asked me for a rollie outside of Sankeys once in first year.)

Adversely they can also go in the direction of hailing Manchester long history of indie-rock bands. And, let’s face it, I’m a fan but who wants to hear any more opinions out of the Gallagher’s or Morrissey? Not only this but coverage of the Manny scene until recent times also tend to ignore the significant contributions of electronic music producers and DJ’s to Manchester music culture.

Manchester Keeps on Dancing stands tall above those stereotypes, choosing to avoid the “good ol’ days” approach and rather document the long, arduous and incredible journey of Manchester music scene from it’s humble roots to its blistering highs and back to the re-emerging strengths of today. Featuring Manchester house heavyweights such as HomoElectric, The Warehouse Project and more.

Something to Celebrate in Manchester? Free Party Time!

To celebrate the release of this unique and insightful film, MCR Live has teamed up with Red Bull bring you a party fitting of the films prowess this bank holiday Saturday where we’re gonna be throwing a little shindig down at Hatch, Manchester’s newest haunt. Hatch is a multipurpose shopping and dining space comprised of converted storage containers, inside containing shops where you can buy houseplants, drink local coffee and – most importantly – bars and food carts!

Red Bull will be bringing along their iconic DJ truck and supplying a cheeky cocktail for guests on entrance, so come on down and dance the day away with us. Everyone who attends will also get a free wristband for the Manchester Keeps on Dancing premiere afterparty at Gorilla on the 26th! A free party, free booze and ANOTHER free party, what more can you ask for?

Our DJ’s for the day include WHP resident Krysko, and a very special guest in James Holroyd from BUGGED OUT events! If you can’t come your missing out big time, If that’s the case, do not fret, as we’ll be live streaming all the madness on the MCR Live Page. Heres a fitting Krysko tune around Warehouse Project Subculture to get you pumped for the weekend. See you there.

No need for tickets though – sticking to our rep for banging free parties – we’re putting on this party totally free, just turn up at Hatch Manchester between 2 and 6 pm on Bank Holiday Saturday, May 5th. The premiere of the doc will be screened as part of the Doc’N’Roll Film Festival on Saturday, May 5th, with additional screenings over the course of the next week at HOMEMCR. You can grab tickets here and find more information here!

Bonfire Night 2018 - Manchester bonfire Night - Best Places - Toffee apple - 5th November - MCR Live Blog

Manchester’s Top 5 Bonfire Night Events

We all know the opening line to the poem “Remember, remember” about the 1605 failed Gunpowder Plot. To celebrate the King’s survival of this assassination attempt, people lit bonfires all around London, and the tradition stuck! This yearly celebration has come to be known as Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes Night) and is now celebrated nationwide with fabulous bonfire and fireworks displays. As the nights get longer and colder, what better way to enjoy an evening than by grabbing your friends and watching the night sky light up with sparks, whilst warming yourself by a spectacular fire? Maybe even jumping on a fair ride… or three!

This year’s Bonfire Night falls on Sunday 5th November, so, where’s best to go for a great evening of fun, fire and treats? We’ve done a little digging and put together a list of our top five events going on in the Greater Manchester area. Enjoy!

Bonfire Night 2018 - Manchester bonfire Night - Best Places - Toffee apple - 5th November - MCR Live Blog

Buile Hill Park

Not only does Buile Hill Park hold a spectacular golf course, greenhouse and museum, they’re holding their very own Bonfire Night this Sunday. Located on Eccles Old Road, Salford, M6 8GL this event opens at 6pm and is completely FREE!

Expect plenty of food and a funfair whilst waiting for the bonfire to be lit at 7pm with the main fireworks starting at 7:30pm. At 5:30pm there will also be a special firework display for young children, “Little Sparks in the Park” before the main event opens.

Fallowfield Bonfire Night 

Similar to Bruile Hill Park, Platt Fields Park will also be hosting their own Bonfire Night this Sunday. In a perfect place for the student community located on Whitmore Road (M14 6LA), the bonfire will be lit at 7:30 followed by a magnificent firework display. Again, this is completely free and the funfair will run till 9:30pm.   

Heaton Park Bonfire and Fireworks Display

Opening at 5pm, this is one of the biggest (free) bonfires in Manchester and is enjoyed by thousands so we advise to arrive early to avoid the queues.

With the bonfire lit at 7:30 and the funfair running till 9:30 the atmosphere at Heaton Park this Sunday is going to be absolutely incredible and we can’t wait. Entry to this event is also free with (limited) parking spaces for just £5 so public transport is advised for this one. 

Light in the Night Bonfire Blast at The Rec

Light in the Night Bonfire Blast is being held at Heaton Norris Park, Love Lane, SK4 1JA this Sunday, opening at 5:30pm. Organised by the local churches and charities, the night will include live music, food and a funfair. The bonfire lights up at 6:30pm and fireworks at 7:30pm.

Tickets are priced at £5 adult, £10 family, £1 children under 10, £3 OAP and Concession. You can buy tickets on the gate or book online here and there will be free parking at Heaton Lane Car Park, SK1 1RY.


For more information email: [email protected]

Wythenshawe Park Fireworks

Opening at 5pm, including a funfair with rides, the fireworks kick off at 7:30pm in one of Manchester’s oldest and largest parks, followed by the lighting of the bonfire. Located at Wythenshawe Park on Altrincham Road, this event invites everyone in absolutely free to enjoy the fireworks with friends and family.

Toffee Apple Recipe - Bonfire Night 2018 - Manchester Bonfire Night Events - MCR Live Blog

Get yourself in the mood with these easy to make toffee apples.

All you need is:
– 8 Granny Smith Apples
– 400g golden caster sugar
– 1tsp vinegar
– 4tbsp golden syrup

For the full method, head here.

Top tip: Dust cinnamon over the toffee coated apples just as they’re setting to add a delicious kick of seasonal spice!


Remember, remember the fifth of November,

Gunpowder treason and plot.

We see no reason

Why gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot!

11.8 K