Gone from the main bar are the plain white walls and chunky wooden tables with mismatched chairs, a fixture there for more than a decade.
Instead, velvety green chairs, dark walls, and exposed filament bulbs overhead give the revamped space a sort of New York speakeasy vibe that more than fits with plans to host late-night music acts here for ‘after show’ parties, some running as late as 2.30am throughout the week.
Little nooks carved out in corners make for intimate date spots at night (or a good hidey-hole to work away in during the daytime), and right at the back the original bar has been replaced by a stage draped in theatrical red velvet curtains – perfectly setting the scene of a late-night jazz bar.
In the day, they’ll be serving Patel’s Pies and other snacks here, with a new bar menu full of bespoke cocktails, cask beers from Hebden Bridge brewery Vocation, low-intervention wines from Kwas, and a solid no and low section with different wines, beers and spirit offerings.
By night, it’s all pints in hands and party atmosphere as the venue’s live music programme gets rolling again after months of reconfiguration, postponements and delays.
Some shows taking place this month are part of tours the Band On The Wall team had organised in 2019 or 2020, showing just how long it has taken for things to get back to normal after the pandemic. At last, nature is healing.
The main bar and stage area has been expanded, the stage pushed back from the stage door and lifted high above the crowd to ensure even those in the back now have a decent view (as long as they’re not stuck behind one of the supporting pillars).
The balcony area is still there, as is the main stage bar – with most of the work here going into tweaking and upgrading the already-excellent PA system and installing a brand new lighting rig.
We’re told the capacity has now grown in here to at least 500, but the team is anticipating being able to sell even more tickets once they’ve worked out a few kinks. It’s cost a pretty penny, too, with around £3.5million being fundraised for the project’s development since 2015.
Backstage, a connecting platform makes it easy to roll the grand piano from the main stage to the bars, and lots of work has been done throughout the venue to ensure it’s completely wheelchair accessible for both performers and artists.
More is still to come, with ongoing construction at the back of the building currently putting in a new recording studio, workshop spaces and a roof terrace that will be used by students of Manchester College.
The work is set to be fully completed at the end of April, but after a long period of closure, bosses were keen to get the doors open again to keep doing what they do best: booking brilliant underground musicians and filling up dancefloors with fans eager to hear (and see) them play.
With so many closures of small, intimate venues in recent years, the new bar makeover at Band On The Wall brings something Manchester is sorely lacking – a small, intimate space where upcoming artists can play and be heard, right in the hearrt of the city centre.
Riding the line between the big mainstream venues and the spit and sawdust dive bars, it’s great to see it open once again with a promising lineup for artists all confirmed for its reopening.
Featured listings for the Band On The Wall reopening:
Police search for Moors murder victim Keith Bennett resumes as ‘skull is found’
Police are back searching for Moors Murder victim Keith Bennett after a skull was reportedly found.
12-year-old Keith was snatched by notorious serial killers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964.
The pair’s victims were five children, Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans, all aged between 10 and 17 years old at the time of their murder.
The victims were buried on Saddleworth Moor, but Keith’s remains have never been found.
Now a major breakthrough may have come from an author, Russell Edwards, who alerted police to ‘potential human remains in a remote location’.
Specialist GMP officers have now begun initial exploration activity but say it is ‘far too early’ to confirm if human remains have been discovered.
Officers have also updated Keith’s brother Alan Bennett, who was just eight years old when his sibling vanished and who has dedicated much of his life to solving the mystery of the missing body.
MP Force Review Officer Martin Bottomley said: “At around 11.25am on Thursday 29 September 2022, Greater Manchester Police was contacted by the representative of an author who has been researching the murder of Keith Bennett, a victim of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.
“Following direct contact with the author, we were informed that he had discovered what he believes are potential human remains in a remote location on the Moors and he agreed to meet with officers yesterday afternoon to elaborate on his find and direct us to a site of interest.
“The site was assessed late last night and, this morning, specialist officers have begun initial exploration activity. We are in the very early stages of assessing the information which has been brought to our attention but have made the decision to act on it in line with a normal response to a report of this kind.
“It is far too early to be certain whether human remains have been discovered and this is expected to take some time.
“We have always said that GMP would act on any significant information which may lead to the recovery of Keith and reunite him with his family. As such, we have informed his brother of the potential development – he does not wish to be contacted at this time and asks that his privacy is respected.”
A further GMP statement published by the Manchester Evening Newsadded: “We have always said that GMP would act on any significant information which may lead to the recovery of Keith and reunite him with his family.
“Officers met with Mr Edwards yesterday evening (29th September) and he was able to locate a site of interest and provide us with further details of the work he has been carrying out.
“We are at the very early stages of assessing the evidence which he brought to our attention, but have taken the decision to excavate an area of land with a view to determining what lies there.
“It is far too early to be certain whether human remains have been uncovered, but out of respect for Alan Bennett, who we regularly maintain contact with, we have informed him of this potential development.
“Alan does not wish to be disturbed at this time and we would ask that his request for privacy is respected.”
Featured image: GMP
Question Time audience stunned as first-time buyer says mortgage quote DOUBLED
Thursday night’s Question Time audience could be heard audibly gasping after a fellow crowd member revealed that her mortgage quote had doubled followed the recent mini-budget.
Taping in Manchester on 29 September, the current events and politics programme was discussing property when would-be first-time buyer Rabia revealed that her mortgage offer had jumped from an initial amount of 4.5% interest to a shocking 10.5% in just a matter of days.
As you can see in the incredible clip, both the audience and the panel are taken aback at the revelation.
The Greater Manchester resident said she is desperate to know what the government’s plan for mortgages is as following the latest revision, she says she simply cannot afford to put the money down on her first home.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer weighed in on the social media reaction, quote tweeting the clip from his party’s own account and stating that “the Tories must get back to Parliament and reverse their kamikaze budget” as the current economic mess is being “paid for by working people”.
To make matters worse, Rabia was given no clarification from her lenders, only that they were pulling her offers. Conservative MP and Minister for Local Government, Faith and Communities, Paul Scully had little information to offer her either, simply stating it is a short-term effect and that the market will stabilise.
Scully was subject to an entirely different reaction from the audience as well after his blind attempts to defend Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng were met with laughter. Conversely, Richard Bacon was met with applause after he labelled the mini-budget “absurd”.
As if the anti-Tory sentiment wasn’t already at a high, the chancellor’s mini-budget – which saw the corporations, bankers and the generally wealthy benefit ahead of the working class – has seen fresh calls for a general election to be held as soon as possible.
Beyond declaring a so-called £2,500 limit on energy bills (which many have warned isn’t a guaranteed cap), there was seemingly very little in the way of policy that
For those still unclear as to what was announced in the divisive mini-budget, here is a quick summary:
Speaking in a speech at the Labour conference in Liverpool on Tuesday, Starmer said that the government “haven’t just failed to fix the roof, they’ve ripped out the foundations, smashed the windows and now they’ve blown the doors off for good measure.