The best Manchester bands of all time
26 August 2019, 17:00 | Updated: 26 August 2019, 17:01
We count down our favourite bands from the wonderful city and its surrounding regions. Is your favourite on here?
Formed in Bolton in 1976 around Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley, Buzzcocks were pioneers of punk in Manchester, putting on gigs and inviting the Sex Pistols to perform in the city for the first time. Their debut EP, Spiral Scratch, was self-produced on their own label and inspired countless other band to join the DIY indie scene. Devoto left early on to form Magazine, but the band continued, enjoying chart success with tracks like Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've).
Formed in Whalley Range in 1982, the band performed under various names, until becoming James after the arrival of singer Tim Booth. The band released their first two singles on Factory Records and supported The Smiths on a high profile tour in 1985. They signed to US label Sire and released two LPs, but had little success until the end of the decade when their singles Sit Down and Come Home made waves in the indie charts a. For the past 25 years, James have made consistently intriguing music.
Singer Liam Fray and guitarist Daniel Moores went to the same school in Middleton, while bassist Mark Cuppello went to the same Prestwich school as drummer Michael Campbell. Fray started performing songs while at the University of Salford and the ‘Teeners played their first show at Manchester’s much-loved Roadhouse venue in October 2006. Four well-received albums later and the band were headlining their own show at Manchester’s Heaton Park - just a stone’s throw away from where they grew up.
The quartet of Macclesfield’s Ian Curtis (vocals) and Steve Morris (drums) and Salford’s Bernard Sumner (guitar) and Peter Hook (bass) started out as young punks until their love of Bowie, The Velvet Underground and synth-propelled prog rock took them into darker places. Their debut album Unknown Pleasures (1979) was a claustrophobic post-punk classic, but by the time the follow-up Closer was released, Curtis was dead: he committed suicide in May 1980, but the rest of the band vowed to carry on…
Technically speaking, The Charlatans were founded in the West Midlands, but they later moved to Northwich in Cheshire, the hometown of singer Tim Burgess and their connection with the Madchester sound is undeniable. Their debut single Indian Rope was a huge indie hit, while their second release, The Only One I Know, made the UK Top 10. Over 25 years, The Charlatans have released twelve albums, including Up To Our Hips (1994), Tellin’ Stories (1997), and the latest, 2014’s Modern Nature.
Jez and Andy Williams met Jimi Goodwin at Wilmslow High School and their first band was the dance act Sub Sub, who made theTop 3 with Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use) in 1993. After their studio in Ancoats burnt down three years later, they started anew as Doves. Their more guitar-based sound saw them hit the ground running, with their second album The Last Broadcast (2002) making No 1 in the Uk charts. Goodwin has a solo career, while the Williamsestrade under the name Black Rivers.
The members of Everything Everything hail from as far afield as Northumberland, Kent and Guernsey, but when singer Jonathan Higgs met bassist Jeremy Pritchard at Salford University, Manchester became their musical home. Their debut album, Man Alive, was released in 2010 and featured the instant classic Photoshop Handsome. Their third album, Get To Heaven, was released in 2015 and has gained some of the best reviews of their career, featuring the hits Regret and Distant Past.
Formed in Salford in 1980, it wasn’t until the end of the decade that Shaun and Paul Ryder’s band of indie funksters signed to the legendary Factory Records. Featuring their mate Bez as percussionist/dancer, their scratchy take on dance-rock fitted the post-Acid House boom perfectly and their track Step On hit Top 5 in 1990. Their album Pills N’ Thrills And Bellyaches was a success, but the follow up pretty much bankrupted Factory. They split in 1993 but are back touring this year.
For a long time it looked like Stretford’s Steven Morrissey would make a living as a writer or poet, but pop stardom was always on the agenda and when he met young guitarist and songwriter Johnny Marr, the stage was set for one of Britain’s greatest pop bands. Together with bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce, they created an idiosyncratic collection of music across four classic albums and over a dozen excellent singles. They split in 1987 and rumours of a reunion continue to circulate.
Formed in Oldham in 1983 by schoolfriends Graham Lambert (guitar) and Stephen Holt (vocals), Inspiral Carpets came to prominence when organist Clint Boon joined the band and they were included in the burgeoning “Madchester” scene. Their quirky songs, now sung by Tom Hingley , propelled by Boon’s psychedelic keyboards led them to chart success in the early 90s with tracks like This Is How It Feels and Move. They returned for a self-titled album in 2014.
The Stone Roses
Ian Brown and John Squire met at Altrincham Grammar School and went through various bands, before becoming the definitive line-up of The Stone Roses with Mani and Reni in 1987. Their debut album was a mix of classic indie and psychedelia, which became part of the “Madchester” sound. It was 5 long years before a follow-up arrived: titled The Second Coming, it didn’t get the acclaim of the debut and the band split in 1996. In 2011 they announced comeback shows and will play more gigs in 2016.
Following the death of singer Ian Curtis in 1980, the surviving members of Joy Division agreed to retire the name. They started from scratch as New Order, adding Gillian Gilbert on extra guitar and keyboards. As the 1980s progressed, the band became more interested in electronica and production, producing the biggest selling 12” single of all time with Blue Monday. Despite bassist Peter Hook leaving, the band returned in 2015 with a new album, Music Complete.
Guy Garvey met Craig Potter at Bury College in 1990, kick-starting the career of one of the City’s most-loved bands with a show at the Corner Pin pub in Ramsbottom. They released their debut album Asleep In The Back in 2001 and won the Mercury Prize in 2008 with their hugely well-received fourth outing The Seldom Seen Kid. The band still record and rehearse in Salford’s Blueprint Studios.
Purveyors of no-nonsense, anthemic guitar rock, Liam and Noel Gallagher hail from Southern Manchester suburb of Burnage, and when the younger Gallagher joined the band The Rain (featuring Paul McGuigan and Bonehead), his older brother was soon to follow. They signed to indie label Creation in 1993, and released the huge selling albums Definitely Maybe (1994) and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (1995). After releasing a seventh album, Dig Out Your Soul, in 2008, the band split.
Originally formed by Martin Price, Graham Massey and “A Guy Called” Gerald Simpson, 808 State were the foremost practitioners of homegrown house in Manchester. Named after the Roland TR-808 drum machine that powered most house tracks, Simpson left soon to go solo, while the rest of the group issued one of the biggest tunes of the second summer of love, Pacific State. The outfit still continue to perform live in the 21st Century.
Centred around the unpredictable, eccentric genius of singer Mark E. Smith, The Fall have had more line-up changes than the British monarchy and have weathered all kinds of changes in fashion since they formed in the punk era. They had their biggest hit with a cover of the Northern Soul hit There’s A Ghost In My House, which was unrepresentative of a unique kind of music forged over 31 albums. The Fall ended with Smith’s death in 2018, aged 60.
Two of Manchester’s greatest talents formed their own side-project: Bernard Sumner, guitarist with Joy Division and singer with New Order and Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. Their collaboration, Electronic, was more pop-influenced and their debut single Getting Away With It features Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant, making this an 80s supergroup.