Hidden down a little cut-through at the side of one of Manchester’s historic chop houses is Sonata, a brand new late-night piano and jazz bar.
Just off the main cut-and-thrust of the busy Cross Street, if you slip down the alleyway next to Mr Thomas’s you’ll come across a lit doorway concealing the newest addition to Manchester’s late-night party scene.
Set to take the city by storm, it will open until 1am through the week and 2am on the weekends.
The new cabaret bar has been brought to life by Dale Bassett – a former theatrical and musical entertainer who used to perform on the London scene – and is set to open in the city this week, with a glitzy launch party planned for Thursday 30 June.
Ahead of that, we were lucky enough to pop down for a sneak peek at the new bar – and we left feeling pretty impressed.
The new music-led venue draws inspiration from the cabaret scenes of the capital, as well as those in New York and Berlin. Tightly packed seating fans out in front of the bar’s main stage, with an eye-catching, spot-lit white grand Yamaha piano at its center.
Further back, large comfy red leather booths are tucked into corners and lit by low-hanging exposed filament bulbs, ideal for larger groups.
Whilst the tables here are pretty close together to maximise space, there’s no need to worry about squeezing out to get to the bar – as Sonata’s staff will come to you to take your food and drink orders.
Open seven nights a week with a late license, drinks will be served here into the early hours. We have it on good authority that a good martini will be a staple on the bar’s cocktail menu. whilst food-wise there will be a selection of tempting cheese and charcuterie to nibble on.
As for the music itself, the bar’s soundtrack will play host to a mix of genres from pop standards to Broadway ballads, jazz classics to quirky cabaret, as it showcases singers, pianists and cabaret artists from across the UK and beyond.
Acclaimed West End star Alex Young, cabaret iconPaulusand distinguished jazz pianist and vocalist Jeremy Sassoon are among those leading the bill, appearing alongside local musicians including songstress The Chanteuse, soul singer and pianist Charlie Cooper and pop sensation Passmore.
International talent, meanwhile, will include Berlin-based cabaret sensation Jack Woodhead (returning to his hometown of Manchester to perform at Sonata), American piano-vocalist Andrew J Boyer and Canadian soprano and comedian Delea Shand.
Husband and wife duo The Retrosetteswill host a regular residency, .and Olivier Award-winning composer Richard Thomas and comedian and singer Sooz Kempner will bring their original show ‘Wrong Songs’ to Sonata in July.
The venue will also present featured shows like ‘Voices & Lyrics’, a celebration of lesser-known musical theatre, and ‘Le Chat Noir’, a classical cabaret evoking Piaf, Dietrich and Brel, with timeless songs by the likes of Weill, Schoenberg and Debussy.
A regular open mic cabaret night, with accompaniment from a house pianist, will encourage budding singers to take to the stage, and Sonata will also showcase some of Manchester’s most exciting up and coming talent, including jazz fusion trio Outlier, singer-songwriters Adelaide Taylor and Daf Hughes, and BBC Introducingfeatured artist Rosita.
Speaking on the new opening Dale Bassett, founder of Sonata Piano & Cabaret Lounge, said: “This incredibly varied programme is the perfect way to launch this unique new Manchester venue.
“I am thrilled and privileged to be able to host such a wonderful selection of acts. Whether you want to see some of the world’s finest cabaret artists, the nation’s best pianists or the city’s most exciting new singer-songwriters, you will find it all at Sonata.
“I can’t wait to welcome these fantastic performers to our stage – and guests through our doors to experience their talent!”
Feature image – The Manc Group
Sacha Lord fills Manchester with enormous adverts shaming Rishi Sunak as Tory Conference begins
Sacha Lord has publicly shamed Rishi Sunak by plastering enormous digital adverts all over Manchester, right as the Conservative Party Conference takes place.
Lord has even paid to take over the largest screen in the city centre, which happens to be directly above where the Tory Conference is being held.
Roving digital advertising trucks are also circling the area as a stark reminder to the PM of his actions during his time as Chancellor in the pandemic.
Sacha Lord, Parklife and WHP boss as well as Greater Manchester’s Nighttime Economy Adviser, has said that the adverts are for ‘3.8 million lives that were ignored’ when Covid halted the events industry.
He has once again called out Sunak for providing no financial support to all the freelancers whose work vanished practically overnight.
The adverts themselves show a grinning Sunak, his eyes edited red, with the words ‘I ignored 3.8 million self-employed because they didn’t vote Tory’.
Sacha has then released a video where he reminded people of an interview where Sunak said those who were left without financial support ‘probably were not Conservatives in the first place’.
He again outlined the heartbreaking reality that so many people in hospitality and events faced in 2020 and 2021 when the industry collapsed.
He said in his video: “I’ve taken out the largest digital screen in the city centre, which is directly above the Tory conference, for the entire duration of the conference.
During the pandemic, we witness the complete and utter decimation of the events industry. Freelancers left with no financial support whatsoever. I witnessed families break up, marriages dissolve, houses repossessed. I also know two people who took their own lives. They simply could not live riddled with so much debt.
“There were in total 3.8 million self-employed people who were left to fend for themselves. And at the time none of us could work out ‘why is the Chancellor doing this?’
“And we now know the reason why he left 3.8 million people out to dry. The reason being, he didn’t believe they would vote Conservative. He put politics before lives. So if you were one of those people who were excluded and had your life ruined, this is for you.
“This must never, ever happen again. It’s a disgrace, and we should never forget the injustice that these people suffered.”
Sacha Lord then wrote: “This is for the 3.8 million lives that were ignored. The freelancers and the self employed.
“The Conference are trying every trick to have this taken down…so I’ve just deployed large digital vans as well, to keep circling the area.
“Wave if you see one…”
It’s the most perfectly passive-aggressive move of all time, this.
One person replied to Sacha: “THANK YOU! This directly affected my partner and I know the stress and strain it put on him and many people in his industry. Too many people just want to ignore that this happened. The light you continue to shine on this is absolutely phenomenonal. Again, THANK YOU.”
Another said: “Excellent work yet again. Keep it up, @Sacha_Lord! While a few got very rich during that horrible year of Covid, freelancers, self-employed and hospitality were largely hung out to dry by the govt, who now absolutely must bring VAT down to 10% for hospitality, @CampaignforPubs.”
Someone else shared: “I was one of the Excluded. Too long out of employment and not long enough self-employed. I fell between the cracks of the financial support and had to fend for myself.”
Northern Quarter’s iconic ‘Big Horn’ could be coming back to Tib Street
Manchester is famous for many iconic landmarks, with many of them situated in the legendary district of the Northern Quarter, and while it might not be there anymore, there is one that still stands firm and fondly in our memories: ‘The Big Horn’.
So much so, in fact, that it might even be coming back.
If you ever walked down Tib Street during some time between 1999 and 2017, you will have come across the rather odd-looking sculpture simply known as The Big Horn, created by artist David Kemp as part of his ‘Unsound Instruments’ series.
Erected just before the millennium, the unique piece of artwork was built as a symbol of growth in the Northern Quarter, an area of Manchester that has continued to be a melting pot for local history, culture and progress. Unfortunately, however, with that progress often comes the old making way for the new.
The trombone-shaped was sadly removed from its home on the corner of Tib and Church Street six years ago after it was announced that the land it sat on was to become a new apartment block developed by Salford-born billionaire and Betfred founder, Fred Done.
It’s over half a decade since we last saw The Big Horn in this iconic part of town, but thanks to a new planning application by those passionate about maintaining and restoring local culture, it is now on the verge of making a comeback just around the corner.
Being driven by property developers Bruntwood and already in the consultation stage, a proposal, heritage statement and even details surrounding where the sculpture could be reinstated have all been drawn up and submitted — it’s now just a case of waiting for the green light.
With the plan to reaffix the horn to the side of another nearby cultural hotspot, Afflecks, which bears just as much significance on the area’s music and art scene, The Big Horn’s return could be imminent and attract a whole new set of eyes, as well loom large in those that previously admired it once again.
Set to measure up at 5.3 metres off the ground and 12.8m above street level at its highest point, not to mention be attached to one of Manchester‘s most beloved buildings, the sculpture could be set to boast more pride of place than ever.
The council application was submitted on 15 September and those interested in having their say can get involved with the consultation right up until 13 October.
You can play your part in saving a piece of Manc history and bringing The Big Horn back to the Northern Quarter HERE.