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
Architect video shows the progress of the ever-changing Greater Manchester skyline
A building planner and architecture firm’s new YouTube video shows the remarkable progress of Greater Manchester’s ever-changing skyline.
VU.CITY is a city-planning firm based out of London that specialises in building out 3D platforms which render both existing, developing and future structures.
Better yet, it shows a 3D visual representation of what they will look like in the coming months and years.
It’s even crazier to think what the trajectory of this video would have looked if you wound the clock back even by another 10 years.
As you can, not only has the company shown city’s skyline evolves over time, the company recently highlighted both central and Greater Manchester, highlighting the likes of Salford, Salford Quays and Stockport as they continue to grow.
While plenty of people have been understandably concerned over Manchester’s ever-changing skyline, especially post-2020’s Manctopia programme about the local property boom, the money these new-builds and developments have generated in the city cannot be denied.
Not only is Manchester one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe but two different towns in the region have been named among the best places to live in Britain over the past 12 months alone, but the city centre itself was named by Time Out as one of the best locations to visit anywhere in the UK.
It’s no wonder some of the happiest people in the country also live here, apparently.
Just lots of people telling us what we already know: Manchester is mint and thanks to its ever-changing skyline, it’s only looking more attractive to city types.
Popular London bakery Gail’s to open string of North West cafes next year
Popular craft bakery Gail’s has hinted at plans to open a string of new cafes in the North West next year.
The group, which already has a large number of bakery-cafes in the south of England, has announced it will open its first North West site in Wilmslow in early 2023.
Bosses have also said that ‘further locations in the North West’ will be announced in the new year, adding that all the new bakeries will serve GAIL’s artisan sourdough breads, pastries, sandwiches, and cakes alongside its specialty House Blend coffee.
The news also seems to potentially confirm speculation that the brand is planning a move into Manchester after The Manc shared news of potential plans for a Gail”s opening in the city centre in October.
Having already seen planning documents that suggest the chain is planning to take over the former White Stuff unit on King Street, it now appears that more news on that opening will be coming in 2023 – although it’s hard to say if it will be the first Manchester site to be announced.
The bakery group already has strong ties with Manchester, having run its sister wholesale bakery The Bread Factory in Openshaw since 2017.
Formed in the early 1990s by namesake Gail Mejia, Gail’s began when its eponymous founder decided to bring together the best bakers in London to create bakes for the capitals top chefs and restaurants.
Today, is known more as a customer-facing cafe and bakery whilst The Bread Factory continues the original wholesale legacy – supplying high quality, artisan breads to some of the region’s top local restaurants.
Gail’s first cafe opened on Hampstead High Street in 2005, and now the brand has 79 in neighbourhoods in and around London, Oxford, Brighton and more.
Turning back the clock on industrialised baking practices and moving to bake bread as it used to be baked: by hand, using quality ingredients and time-worn artisanal methods, Gail’s soon established a name for itself and has come a long way since those early days.
Still, the stuff that matters – the ethos, the suppliers, the skill and a handful of tried-and-tested sourdough starter cultures – hasn’t changed.
A champion for sustainability, the bakery also prides itself on minimising food waste by carefully setting aside any leftover food and donating it to a selection of local charities in each eatery’s neighbourhood