Our pick of the top 10 best bands in Manchester

There’s no doubting Manchester’s pedigree as a centre for world music. The number of music artists and bands that have hailed from the city is truly phenomenal and their influence on other musicians is still being felt today and probably always will be. We thought it would be fun to look at what we consider to be the 10 best bands to come from the area and we’d be interested in your thoughts and feedback as well.

The list below is not in any particular order. We’ve compiled it based on our own personal views and tastes. Your list may be very different and that’s why we invite you to pitch in with your views.

The Hollies

First, let’s start with a band from the sixties. As we all know, the sixties were when British music really took off on the world’s stage and the British invasion of the US charts has been well documented with bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who making a huge impact. Another band that really made its mark in the sixties was Manchester’s very own The Hollies.

The Hollies were hugely popular in the sixties and their catchy hits such as ‘He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother’ and ‘The Air that I breathe’ have rightly become classics.  More influential than many people give them credit for, The Hollies inspired many glam bands of the seventies and the band is still held in great affection by many in Manchester and across the world.

The Buzzcocks

Punk music hit the UK at the tail-end of the seventies like a whirlwind and one of the leading stalwarts of this highly influential genre was Manchester’s The Buzzcocks. Everybody obviously remembers The Sex Pistols and their impact, but it was really The Buzzcocks that brought Punk to the north. The much covered ‘Ever fallen in love?’ by The Buzzcocks is an all-time classic of the era and, in a way, they made Punk more accessible to a wider audience. Hugely influential, bands such as Franz Ferdinand and the Klaxons cite The Buzzcocks has being hugely influential and of course, mainstream TV shows such as ‘Never mind The Buzzcocks’ keeps the band alive in our musical conscience.

The Fall

Probably the most off-beat and downright unconventional of our selections is The Fall. Not a multi-million record selling band it is granted, but they have a huge and very loyal cult following that simply means you can’t ignore them in any list of Manchester’s top 10 bands. Led by the charismatic, uncompromising and, it has to be said, notoriously prolific Mark E, Smith, The Fall have amassed over 30 albums and always continue to surprise. Over the years, the band’s line-up has changed many times, which gives you some indication about how difficult sharing a stage with Mark E. Smith might be. It’s hard to place The Fall in any type of particular genre. They are one-offs and their style changes with Mark E. Smith’s mood. That’s what makes them so interesting….

Morrissey/The Smiths

Who can ever forget Morrissey’s first appearance on Top of the Pops wielding a bunch of gladioli and belting out the highly ironic ‘This Charming Man?’

The Smiths soon cemented themselves in the hearts of every angst-ridden teenager in the 1980s and, although they were only around for 5 years, their musical catalogue has become legendary and their influence highly significant. Commanding a huge cult following across the world, The Smiths is probably one of Manchester’s most iconic bands and Morrissey, one of its most enigmatic front men. Of course, The Smiths wouldn’t be The Smiths without the massive contribution of Johnny Marr and is unmistakable guitar riffs. Even though Morrissey and Marr don’t talk any more, their legacy will live on…

Joy Division/New Order

No list of Manchester’s top bands would be complete without Joy Division and New Order. Too gloomy for some, musical geniuses to others, Joy Division’s front man Ian Curtis will forever be remembered for his dark, brooding lyrics and iconic rendition of ‘Love will tear us apart.’ His tragic suicide in 1980, on the eve of the band’s first US tour, made Ian Curtis one of Manchester’s musical legends. It took a while for the rest of the band to recover from the loss but eventually, they reformed and became New Order, the electronic dance rock pioneers and creators of the biggest selling 12 inch single of all time – Blue Monday. Top bands such as U2, REM and The Killers have all cited influence from Joy Division and the unmistakable sound of New Order continues to inspire much of the dance music we hear today.

The Stone Roses

It’s hard to believe that The Stone Roses only produced two studio albums such is their influence. Forerunners of the Britpop scene, The Stone Roses are a heady mix of post-punk psychedelia with more than a hint of anti-establishment. Front man Ian Brown was and continues to be, the embodiment of the swaggering, unflinching Mancunian that Liam Gallagher went on to emulate and make his own. In 2011, to the surprise of everyone, The Stone Roses reformed and sold out concerts at Heaton Park in just over an hour, selling over 225,000 tickets. This goes a long way to demonstrating their enduring appeal and they continue to be icons of the Manchester music scene.


The biggest band of the nineties and don’t let any Blur fan tell you otherwise! Clearly influenced by The Beatles, The Stone Roses and , to some extent, The Smiths, Oasis will forever be regarded as leaders of Britpop and their highly successful albums ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘(What’s the story) Morning Glory?’ are probably two of the most definitive albums of the entire nineties decade. Noel and Liam Gallagher were and still are charismatic front men that nobody who grew up in the nineties will forget and their subsequent arguments and fall-outs have become the stuff of legend. Everybody hopes for a reunion but with the animosity that seems to exist between the two brothers now, I wouldn’t hold your breath…

Bee Gees

Many people think they’re American. Many people think they’re Australian. These people are wrong….they’re Mancunians! Okay, they may have been born on the Isle of Man but they grew up in Manchester so Manchester claims them as their own. One of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time – the Bee Gees have sold more than 220 million records worldwide so it would be remiss to not include them on this list. Their signature falsetto sound means that you can’t mistake the sound of the Bee Gees and their long line of hits and, of course, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, has cemented the Bee Gees in Manchester’s musical history.

Simply Red

Simply Red may not be the coolest band on this list but it doesn’t stop them from deserving their place. Selling more than 50 million albums since the 1980s, Simply Red still manage to command a loyal and devoted audience and Mick Hucknall’s voice continues to be as strong as ever.  The line-up has changed beyond recognition over the years but at its core, Simply Red is Mick Hucknall, and that’s who the fans go to see. The band has gone through various reunions and anniversary tours and they continue to sell-out across Europe so their appeal is enduring.

Take That

Alongside Simply Red, Take That are the most mainstream band on this list and it would be glib to simply call them a boy band. Take That’s success has been nothing short of phenomenal and they are adored by millions of fans across UK and Europe. Backed by Gary Barlow’s strong song writing ability, Take That have transcended the boy band genre and become something far more significant. Selling out their concerts wherever they go, together with Oasis, they are one of Manchester’s biggest selling bands of all time.

So, what do you think? We know we’ve missed out quite a few Manchester bands such as Happy Mondays, Verve, Inspiral Carpets and so on, and no doubt some of you will point out the errors of our ways. We like a good debate, so let us know what would make your top 10.

30 December 2016
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