The Cavern + Wigan Casino + The Boardwalk + The Hacienda + The Cockpit: Five Great Northern Music Venues From History
The north of England has long been a music hotspot. It’s a part of the UK that has produced some of the most influential musicians the world has ever seen, and with that some pretty exciting cultural movements too.
Whether you’re a lover of The Beatles, a fanatic of Oasis, or enjoy the gentler tones of Morrissey or Mick Hucknall, the north of England has had its wicked way with your ears. But of course, with so many musicians coming out of the region, then it goes without saying that there are many venues too which have been just as influential.
Some are still in existence today, while others have sadly fallen to the likes of apartments, office blocks and supermarkets. Their legacy lives on though and below you’ll find five of the most iconic northern music venues in history…
The Cavern Club does still exist today, albeit in a slightly different position. Opening in 1975, it wasn’t long before it became a real hotspot and the birthplace of Merseybeat. It hosted The Beatles many, many times with their shows at the club iconic. It paved the way for them becoming the superstars they were in the 1960s, and of course from then on.
It closed due to the construction of the Merseyrail underground in 1973, before reopening further down Mathew Street where it still sits to this day.
It wasn’t just The Beatles that appeared at The Cavern, however. The likes of Queen, Elton John, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and The Who all performed there before they earned international acclaim.
Think of a casino and you’ll largely be thinking of roulette games, slots, and perhaps even the casino online venues these days, with many now preferring mobile casinos to real-life ones.
However, Wigan Casino was a little bit different. There were no signs of casino table games here. In fact, it was never even a casino, but rather a ballroom formerly known as the Empress.
Wigan Casino was the home of Northern soul music and was one of the coolest places to be throughout the 1970s, with the subculture seeing thousands of people flock to the Lancashire town to groove along to hits like Tainted Love, Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) and Time Will Pass You By.
The music itself was predominantly American soul music, but it found an unlikely home in Wigan, with the venue becoming internationally renowned, once being described as Billboard magazine as “The Best Disco in the World”.
The Boardwalk was a small nightclub in Manchester and while it wasn’t as significant as The Hacienda, it was a hugely influential club particularly for the Britpop era.
Opening in 1986, it saw James perform at the opening night, while bands such as The Charlatans, Happy Monday, Hole and Sonic Youth play there, while it is most famous for providing Oasis with a rehearsal space just after their formation. The walls would be the first to hear the likes of Live Forever and Cigarettes & Alcohol, cementing its place in history and as an iconic northern music venue.
A stone’s throw from The Boardwalk, was The Hacienda, a music venue that almost transformed a city into one of the coolest places to be. Opened by Factory Records owner and journalist Tony Wilson, alongside his band at the time, New Order, it was the birthplace of the acid house scene in the UK, as well as being the catalyst for the whole Madchester era.
The venue played host to dozens of iconic shows, from Madonna’s first ever concert in the UK to the likes of New Order, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, The Smiths, Eurythmics, The Prodigy, Blur, Gil Scott-Heron, Pet Shop Boys and many, many more.
The Cockpit closed in 2014 but for the 20 years in which it was open, it was an indie rock haven, paving the way for hundreds of bands to go on to bigger and better things. The small venue only held 500 but it welcomed both international bands and those from up and down the country during the bustling indie scene of the mid 2000s. The likes of Amy Winehouse, Kaiser Chiefs, Boy George, Placebo, Elastica and many more bands played the venue, while it also offered young, local bands the chance to test their mettle in a club-like venue.