Categories > Other Services

5 Best Bars with Live Rock Music in Manchester

The 5 Best Bars with Live Rock Music in Manchester

Menu - First, we looked at their menu and assessed the variety of available food and drinks. We also assessed the financial affordability of their menu items.

Dining Experience -  We also looked into how well we were accommodated by staff and how quickly drinks were served.

Atmosphere - In addition to this, we also assessed the establishment’s decor as well as its overall vibe. 

Customer Satisfaction- Lastly, we rated this based not only on our experiences, but also took into consideration what other pubgoers have had to say from surveys, comments, and other third-party websites.

1. Big Hands

Big Hands Homepage
WEBSITEhttps://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/yha-manchester
ADDRESS296 Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9NS, United Kingdom
CONTACT DETAILS+44 161 272 7309296
[email protected]
OPERATING HOURSMondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays: 12PM – 2AM
Fridays and Saturdays: 12 PM – 3 AM
Wednesdays: 3PM – 2 AM
Sundays: 3PM – 1AM
Google Reviews4.5/5
TripAdvisor Reviews4/5
Facebook Reviews4.3/5
Total Reviews4.6/5
Score Consistency4/5
Menu4.5/5
Variety of menu items5/5
Prices4/5
Dining Experience4/5
Staff3/5
Waiting Time5/5
Atmosphere5/5
Customer Satisfaction4.2/5

Pros

  • One of Manchester’s most popular rock pubs
  • Wide variety of drinks
  • Quick service
  • Showcases various types of up and coming rock bands
  • Has a roof garden

Cons

  • Indoors can get cramped during the weekends
  • Occasionally has door fees

Big Hands is just one among the many popular rock pubs in Oxford Road. Having only been established in 2001, it has since then left an impact on Manchester’s gig-going culture.

What we like about Big Hands is how they have a wide variety of drinks, with a special focus on continental lager. We think their drinks aren’t the cheapest but were at least reasonably priced.

We saw that there was little to no food available, which honestly wasn’t much of a surprise to us. The establishment truly seems to be suited for gigs and isn’t the sit-down-and-chat type of place, which we think is just fine.

Though we did also notice that while on most occasions entry is usually free, there are times when Big Hands requires a door fee of £2- £5 for special gigs. We like that the live performances usually consist of garage, wonky pop, or alternative rock bands. 

We thought that the service was quick despite the number of people, but we were disappointed that the staff was not always polite.

The venue was quite small and can get crowded especially during the weekends. However, the open-air roof garden makes up for the tight space and offers a more chill, relaxed vibe. 

We were especially pleased, though, with the general atmosphere of the place. The establishment’s walls are almost completely covered with posters of various rock bands, which gave off a very rock-n-roll and NYC dive bar-type feel.

Overall, we found our experience in Big Hands quite enjoyable despite its tight space and inconsistent staff. We truly think that the vibe in Big Hands was worth the experience and is a good way to participate in Manchester’s music culture.

2. Night and Day Cafe

Night and Day Cafe's Homepage
WEBSITEhttps://nightnday.org/
ADDRESS26 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JN, United Kingdom
CONTACT DETAILS+44 161 236 1822
[email protected]
OPERATING HOURSMonday to Wednesdays: 2 PM – 2 AM
Thursdays: 11 AM – 2 AM
Fridays: 11 AM – 4 AM
Saturdays: 10 AM – 4 AM
Sundays: 10 AM – 12 AM
Google Reviews4.4/5
TripAdvisor Reviews4/5
Facebook Reviews4/5
Total Reviews4.3/5
Score Consistency4.2/5
Menu4/5
Variety of menu items4/5
Prices4/5
Dining Experience3.5/5
Staff3/5
Waiting Time4/5
Atmosphere5/5
Customer Satisfaction4.1/5

Pros

  • Good variety of food
  • Features more underground bands
  • Very vibey
  • Open late hours

Cons

  • Drinks can get pricey
  • Doesn’t have a large variety of cocktails

Up next on our list is Night and Day Cafe located in Oldham street. This relaxed space is also part and parcel of the Mancunian nightlife experience aside from featuring many up-and-coming artists.

What we first saw was how they have 2 different menus: a breakfast menu for those who want a chiller experience, and a pizza menu. Although food choices were limited, pizzas accompanied by a drink and good music isn’t a bad idea at all.

As for their drinks, we thought that they had a decent selection of beers–a bit pricey being £5–but not many cocktails. Their drinks menu was not all that extensive, but we appreciated that they had all the classics, at least.

However, we were disappointed with their service which we found a little too slow for our liking, even despite being one of the only customers at the time. It didn’t help that the staff was also a hit-or-miss in terms of attitude.

Still, we liked the vibe of the place and how intimate the space was. Its dark-coloured walls and ambient lighting made for a cosy drinking space, with enough standing room for people to enjoy the gigs from budding artists and bands.

In the end, we thought Night and Day Cafe was a fun little experience. Its vibe can easily go from catching up with some friends to partying it hard with good rock music.

3. The Castle Hotel

The Castle Hotel's Homepage
WEBSITEhttps://thecastlehotel.info/
ADDRESS66 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE, United Kingdom
CONTACT DETAILS+441612379485
[email protected]
OPERATING HOURSMondays to Thursdays: 12 PM – 1 AM
Fridays and Saturdays: 12 PM – 2 AM
Sundays: 12 PM – 12 AM
Google Reviews4.5/5
TripAdvisor Review3.5/5
Facebook Review4.4/5
Total Reviews4/5
Score Consistency4.2/5
Menu3.5/5
Variety of menu items3/5
Prices4/5
Dining Experience5/5
Staff5/5
Waiting Time5/5
Atmosphere5/5
Customer Satisfaction4.5/5

Pros

  • Culturally significant to Manchester’s music culture
  • Serves real ales
  • Has a large selection of beers
  • Small but intimate space
  • Cheerful staff

Cons

  • Can only fit 80 people
  • Not a lot of food available

Another essential rock bar experience is The Castle Hotel located in Oldham. This establishment is known to be one of the oldest pubs in Manchester, having been around since 1776.

What we liked about The Castle Hotel is that they not only have a wide variety of beers but they also serve real ales, all at reasonable prices. However, we did notice that they had almost little to no food, serving only Manchester eggs–a true Mancunian delicacy.

We also appreciated that the staff was cheerful and knowledgeable about their menu. In addition to this, the staff worked very quickly and efficiently, whipping up your favourite beers in no time even during busy nights.

Knowing that The Castle Hotel has been around for a while, it came as no surprise to us that their decor also gave off very strong old-school energy, which we found charming. 

Their stage, although small, is enough for many local rock artists to perform in. Performers here tend to gather a hipster-looking crowd of around 80 people which we think definitely adds to the charm of the whole place. 

When the venue gets a little cramped, we liked that there was an open area in the back where the music can still be heard. We thought this was a good place for people to have some air, and discovered that it could also be used as a smoking area as well.

The Castle Hotel has definitely cemented itself as one of Manchester’s essential music-scene establishments, and we understand why! Their good service along with the crowd makes for a fun experience overall. 

4. The Salisbury Ale House

The Salisbury Ale House's Homepage
WEBSITEhttps://thesalisbury.co.uk/
ADDRESS2 Wakefield St, Manchester M1 5NE, United Kingdom
CONTACT DETAILS+44 161 236 5590
[email protected]
OPERATING HOURSMonday to Wednesdays: 12 PM – 1 AM
Thursdays to Saturdays: 12 PM – 2 AM
Sundays: 12 PM – 12:30 AM
Google Reviews4.5/5
Tripadvisor Reviews4.5/5
Facebook Reviews4.4/5
Total Reviews4.5/5
Score Consistency4.3/5
Menu4/5
Variety of menu items4/5
Prices4/5
Dining Experience3.5/5
Staff4/5
Waiting Time3/5
Atmosphere5/5
Customer Satisfaction4.2/5

Pros

  • Drinks are at reasonable prices
  • Has food discounts for gig goers
  • Helpful and knowledgeable staff
  • Old-school atmosphere

Cons

  • Waiting time for food can take long
  • Only serves pizza

Next on the list is another popular rock bar, The Salisbury Ale House located in Wakefield Street. 

What we like is how in true ale house fashion, they had real ales, beers and ciders. We also liked that they had a nice selection of pizzas priced at around £9 – £14 and other bar snacks to pair with your drink.

What’s more, we really appreciate that The Salisbury Ale House even has pizza discounts for gig goers! All you’ll really need is your ticket, and you’re good to go!

We found the staff very helpful and knowledgeable about their menu. However, we were a little disappointed that the waiting time for food and drinks was longer than what we would have liked.

Despite that, we still really liked the atmosphere of the establishment. Its rustic and old-school design was charming, and we were especially pleased to see a jukebox that had an excellent roster of metal and rock classics from Foo Fighters to Queen.

Aside from playing songs from the jukebox, we appreciate that the alehouse also hosts gigs for underground alternative and rock bands during the weekends!

In general, The Salisbury Ale House oozes with energy that screams rock ‘n roll, and is a wonderful place to have a chat and enjoy all types of rock music, old and new.

5. Gullivers

Gullivers Homepage
WEBSITEhttps://gulliversnq.info/
ADDRESS109 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LW, United Kingdom
CONTACT DETAILS+44 (0)161 819 2970
[email protected]
OPERATING HOURSMondays to Thursdays: 12 PM – 1AM
Fridays to Saturdays: 12 PM – 1AM
Sundays: 12 PM -12 AM
Google Reviews4.4/5
TripAdvisor Reviews3.5/5
Facebook Reviews3.8/5
Total Reviews4/5
Score Consistency4/5
Menu4/5
Variety of menu items4/5
Prices4/5
Dining Experience5/5
Staff5/5
Waiting Time5/5
Atmosphere5/5
Customer Satisfaction4.5/5

Pros

  • Large selection of drinks
  • Attentive staff
  • Traditional boozer vibe
  • Has 2 rooms for gigs

Cons

  • Only snacks available, no food
  • Can get packed during the weekends
  • Drinks are not always cheap

Located in Oldham is yet another rock pub Gulliver’s, a popular spot amongst many locals of Manchester.

We were pleased to see that Gulliver’s had a large selection of drinks that range from beers to ales and even gin. While we like that many options were available to us for drinking, we did notice that they only had snacks like chips and nuts to offer for food.

With that being said, although we understand that Gulliver’s is more of a drinking place than an eatery, it would have been nice if they had more bar food to serve!

Despite this, we liked that the staff was friendly and accommodating and remained very attentive even during busy gig nights. We appreciated that the drinks came quickly, and the bartenders were very professional and polite!

As for their decor, we found that the old-school, traditional pub atmosphere also worked really well for the establishment. The vintage feel along with their jukebox was surely a hit with the customers, and we have to say, we enjoyed it as well!

Aside from that, we saw their 40-people capacity room fitting for live rock performances from indie rock bands of varying popularity. On busy nights, we were happy knowing that they also had a 110-people capacity ballroom floor upstairs for more space. 

With that being said, Gulliver’s is another one of Manchester’s treasures. With their live rock performances from indie bands as well as their jukebox hits, Gulliver’s is a go-to for many locals of varying ages!

FAQs about Rock Bars in Manchester

Related topics