The skyline of Manchester is one that changes rapidly, and constantly, with new skyscrapers creeping ever-higher every year.
Cast your mind back a few short years and it was Beetham Tower that dominated the skyline.
Now, that familiar skyscraper has been dwarfed and joined by others, all towering several hundred feet above the city centre‘s streets.
We’ve taken a little tour down memory lane to remind you just how different Manchester looked a decade ago, and see how some of the city’s modern landmarks sprung up from nothing.
One Angel Square
Easily one of Manchester’s most attractive examples of modern architecture, the cruise-ship-like structure of One Angel Square is home to the Co-op and is one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe.
Its construction was only just underway a decade ago – and back then, the inner ring road followed a totally different route.
The warehouse building you can see on the right has now been bulldozed to make way for several lanes of traffic.
St Peter’s Square
St Peter’s Square is one of Manchester’s most attractive areas, but it’s almost unrecognisable from 10 years ago.
You used to be able to drive through St Peter’s Square – then the tram stop got shifted over, the cenotaph relocated, and the roads replaced with a pedestrianised square.
Modern office blocks have also popped up, replacing the legendary Dutch Pancake House (RIP).
10 years ago, Manchester Metropolitan University has its Aytoun campus slap bang in the middle of the city centre… but it was looking a little tired.
Along came Capital & Centric with their ambitious plans to create Kampus, a cluster of five residential towers.
The development now centres around a gorgeous garden, with food and drink operators gradually moving into the units that surround it – like Pollen, Nell’s, and General Stores.
It’s the big ones. Literally.
The Deansgate Square towers have quickly become one of the most photographed landmarks in Manchester.
Six short years ago, this was a regular old car park, where you could stay all day for £2.50 on the very edges of the city centre.
Now? It’s some of Manchester’s most luxurious accommodation, with state-of-the-art facilities and some bright new food and drink operators moving in too.
A few short years ago, this patch of land off the inner ring road was a carpark.
Now one of the city’s most prominent skyscrapers stands on the patch of gravel.
This is MODA, a towering block of stylish apartments with a sports pitch on the roof.
Circle Square is still in the making, but its structure has now taken shape enough to give a pretty clear idea that there are big changes afoot.
The plot of land just off Oxford Road used to be home to the BBC – now it’s a brand new neighbourhood with restaurants, retailers and a boutique gym.
It’s all centred around Symphony Park (hoorah, green space!).
This cluster of residential skyscrapers seem to have sprung up from nowhere.
The Meadowside residential towers now stick up on the edges of Angel Meadows park, with the tallest standing at 22 storeys tall.
They’ll be joined by a gigantic 41-storey tower at the northern edge of the park.
Featured image: Google Maps
The Scottish-Indian restaurant selling haggis pakoras and deep-fried Mars bars
Over in Sale’s newly redeveloped Stanley Square, you’ll find an Indian fusion restaurant serving up Scottish ingredients in some decidedly un-Scottish ways.
We’re talking haggis pakoras, Irn Bru negronis, wee puris and seven spice Scotch eggs – all served street food style in traditional metal tiffin boxes.
Opened by Ryan Singh, who hails from Edinburgh, Roti combines the best bits of his Scottish and Indian heritage by putting a spicy twist on some of Scotland’s most sacred foodstuffs.
Think deep-fried Mars bars, ‘chip butties’ in authentic rotis stuffed with curried aloo and chickpeas in aromatic pickle, and an aromatic take on mince and tatties made by combining Roti spiced pork and chole potatoes.
Elsewhere, you’ll find a decidedly fresh spin on fish and chips combining fresh Panga fish in roti gram flour batter with fluffy masala potatoes on a bed of curried ‘mushy peas’ chickpeas, and a massive Highlander burger topped with a crunchy puri ball.
Haggis – a Scottish delicacy traditionally served on Burns night – features heavily on the menu here too.
A savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (a mix of minced heart, liver and lungs) with oatmeal, onion, spices, suet, salt and stock, it’s typically served alongside neeps (better known as parsnips) on special occassions.
Down at Roti, though, it takes some decidedly different forms: shaped into burger patties and topped with coleslaw and apple chutney, or lightly coated in a spiced gram flour and fried into pakoras.
Roti first opened on Chorlton’s Barlow Moor Road in 2019, but within a few months found itself forced to close its doors and switch to takeaway only as the country went into lockdown.
After building up a loyal following of takeaway customers, the restaurant – described as ‘not your average Indian joint’ – was inspired to expand and owners moved into the newly refurbished Sale shopping precinct in 2021.
Sadly, they closed the original restaurant earlier this month but you can still find all their brilliant dishes over in Sale alongside hospitality heavy hitters like Rudy’s, Greens and Sugo Pasta Kitchen.
The 1975 ‘At Their Very Best’ in Manchester — they certainly were
On Friday, The 1975 rocked their way back up to Manchester for the homecoming gig of their ‘At Their Very Best’ tour at the AO Arena and ‘my, my, my’ did they live up to the title of the show.
Returning for the first time since 2020, the band from Wilmslow were clearly committed to putting on a memorable show for the city they grew up in and which essentially put them on the map, with Matty Healy openly admitting: “I don’t need to tell you how big this gig for us”.
It certainly felt pretty momentous for the 20,000 or so of us watching.
The calm before the storm
While a mix of ambient and classic music played before they took the stage and opener Bonnie Kemplay delighted both her die-hards and won over plenty of new ears with her soft and soothing tones, it all felt like a calm before the storm as we knew the level of performance and pageantry that was in store.
We couldn’t have been more right, as despite having fallen ill overnight and being hopped up on Lemsip — he literally spent the first few songs sipping on a cold and flu drink — you couldn’t tell, as Healy’s energy levels looked just as electric as in the now-famed London show, if not even more so.
Not only did he grow into the gig as it went on, as typified by various costume changes (mostly just taking off his shirt), the trademark shaky knees dancing, swapping Lemsip for wine and cigs, as well as his general David Bryne-like eccentricities, but the whole show felt more like an ensemble performance.
From the way his various bandmates were introduced with opening credits as they walked through the various doors on the stage and fans screamed as each of their favourites switched on a light around the beautifully set design, to how they all gathered around the mics to nail the harmonies — it felt like everyone had their moment. And there were quite a few, to say the least…
Chucking on special guests, chewing raw meat and climbing through a TV
With fans having already seen footage of them bringing out Taylor Swift on the first night in the capital, those watching The 1975 ‘At Their Very Best’ in Manchester were understandably excited to see who might appear through the door towards the back of the stage. Oh, just Charli XCX, as you do.
Honestly, the noise that echoed around the AO Arena when she appeared was deafening and though perhaps not everyone in there would usually find themselves listening to her music, even with The 1975‘s own obvious and expertly attuned pop sensibilities, her energy was unparalleled and the crowd lapped it up.
It was a similar story when Carly Holt was brought on for ‘About You’ and they played old cult-favourite ‘Menswear’ from their self-titled debut album.
That being said, it was nothing compared to the slightly maniacal crescendo that closed out of the opening half of the show before she stepped out, as Matty punctuated the songs from Being Funny in a Foreign Language and the more easy-going tracks with a typically meta albeit bizarre interlude.
The frenetic frontman has always been self-referential but he was at self-indulgent best on Friday, as in one fell swoop he went from unbuttoning his shirt and sensually caressing his body whilst smoking on stage, to getting on his knees, eating a raw piece of steak and doing a bunch of press-ups. At one point you could literally see him mouth, “what the f*** am I doing!?”
We have absolutely no idea, Matty. We thought it was surreal enough when he started eating a sausage roll after a fan chucked it on stage, but that was nothing compared to him staring down a camera as he climbed through a TV and disappeared out the back of the set.
We assumed it had some kind of consumerist, fourth-wall-breaking message about being sucked in by media and whatnot, but who knows? It could just be the ever-artsy musician having a bit of mind-bending fun; it gave us trippy Trainspotting vibes and was unlike any other live gig we’d ever seen.
Doing what they do best: putting on a proper show
With the new album and the majority of surprises behind them, the band then kicked things into fifth gear and started playing countless bangers throughout their now more than decade-long studio discography as they steamed towards the final act of their 25-track epic.
Part of the reason this latest record has gone down so well with fans new and old is that it’s much more succinct and simpler than the previous two; back to basics sounds reductive but it was about stripping away a lot of the frills and just writing good songs — the second half of the show very much embodied that ethos.
Matty’s often unhinged, ‘dancing with abandon’ and intoxicated persona on stage is never going to go anywhere, but it didn’t look like he needed anything other than the audience to fuel the performance. They fed off him and he fed off them, as was perfectly epitomised when they dropped ‘The Sound’.
Closing the door and looking towards a new chapter
More poignantly, after the now infamous antics earlier in the show that have now become part of the narrative for this tour, there wasn’t any more self-indulgence. There were no speeches about politics or art, kissing people on stage or sucking thumbs. There was simply no need for it.
There was only pure crowd-pleasing, Matty showing his appreciation for his bandmates and celebrating everything that the band is about at this moment in time, even if that is partly playing the hits and things like doing the ‘don’t like methols’ meme.
I mean, he couldn’t not do it for us, could he?
Last but not least, the set dressing was typically creative from The 1975’s production team as a whole and played a key role throughout, but it was until the end of the show that it hit home how important it was to the whole performance.
The doors dotted all over the stage weren’t just a nice nod to the iconic box logo that the band is known for. After it was illuminated and Matty passed through it for the final time, shutting it behind him and the credits once again rolling for the band, the metaphor hit you like a train: it signified the end of an era.
By walking through it on his way off the stage, it symbolised the band closing the door on the Music For Cars era that has encapsulated their last five albums and more than 21 years of their life as a band, with the last action of Matty going to turn the stage lights as if to ram home that final moment of closure.
Who knows what the next chapter will hold for The 1975? All we know is that we have loved the journey so far and you can sign us up for as many of those gigs as they’re willing to give us.