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Photography by Jack Kirwin www.jackkirwinphotography.com www.facebook.com/jackkirwinphotography

Top 10 Weird And Wonderful Gig Venues

Ever feel like you’ve been to too many gigs and one venue just blurs into another cider fuelled grey box and fancy something a bit different? From a Devil above the door way to a concert in a cave, these venues are totally one-of-a-kind. RGM have tracked down 10 of the most unusual and exceptional places to catch a gig in the UK.

1. The Albert Hall. 27 Peter St, City Centre, Manchester M2 5QR

Designed by architect James Morley as a Methodist Central hall in 1908 The Albert Hall has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building. The main floor was dodgy nightclub Brannigans in the late 90s where middle aged men lurked in the hope of grabbing a young and morally loose student, while the second floor Wesleyan Chapel Hall had been left unused since 1969. Renovated by the team behind Trof, Deaf Institute and Gorilla, it officially reopened in 2014, with a performance by Anna Calvi. The venue is as a bold as it is beautiful with ornate chapel interiors, including vaulted ceilings and terracotta windows, floral plaster work and glazed tiles, restored to their form glory. Undoubtedly the most create atmospheric gig space in Manchester with the likes of Beck, Primal Scream, The Slow Readers Club and Manic Street Preachers all having played here.

2. Satan’s Hollow. 101 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6DD

Hidden away near Manchester’s Chinatown and filled with freakish comic book meets S&M décor, including a model of Lucifer himself sprawled over one wall, Satan’s has been blasting rock, metal and punk since 2000. It’s a subterranean space complete with red mist, railings, relics and many more atmospheric interiors which will really make you feel that you are dancing with the devil. As well as hosting live music, the club nights are fabled and any sensible rock band rolling through Manchester knows this is the place for the ultimate rock after party.

3. Star Wars Cantina. Bowlers Longbridge Rd, Stretford, Manchester M17 1SN

“You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy….” A recreation of the Mos Eisley spaceport and originally created as part of the For The Love Of The Force Star Wars convention, the Cantina Bar is now a permanent fixture in Bowlers Trafford Park. In keeping with the Star Wars theme you can order drinks such blue “Bantha milk” cocktails, which Luke Skywalker first drinks in Star Wars Episode IV. As well as hosting the cosplay filled Love of Sci Fi and Comic Con after parties it has also been used by the Happy Mondays for a photoshoot and when not being used as part of Bowlers events the space plays host to Escape the Cantina a Star Wars inspired escape room.

4. St Luke’s also known as The Bombed Out Church. Leece St, Liverpool L1 2TR

St Luke’s is an early 19th century church that was hit during one of the heaviest periods of bombing in the Liverpool Blitz in 1941. The roof, interior, bells and pipe organ were all lost, but the walls were left standing. Now a roofless ruin known locally as the Bombed Out Church, it’s now well established within the city’s creative underbelly. In 2007 it was taken over by members of Urban Strawberry Lunch, a music and community arts group and has since hosted music, cinema, dance and drama as well as holding an annual commemorative event for the Liverpool blitz. Bands to have graced the ultimate symbol of Liverpool’s resilience include The Kooks, Spaced, and British Sea Power.

5. Peak Cavern. Peak Cavern Rd, Hope Valley S33 8WS

Affectionately known as “The Devil’s Arse”, because of the gurgling noises inside, this vast cave is nestled in the ridiculously appealing Peak District. In 2013, the indie world descended turning the cave from tourist attraction to ultimate gig venue with The Vaccines, Mystery Jets, Richard Hawley and more all passing through Britain’s biggest cave entrance. To add to the already stunning surroundings there’s VIP sofa options available and the car park is transformed into a street food haven with bars and stalls.

6. The Thekla. The Grove, East Mud Dock, Bristol BS1 4RB

The Thekla is a cargo ship which houses a music venue of the same name, moored in the Mud Dock area of Bristol’s Floating Harbour. Originally brought to Bristol as the Old Profanity Showboat, it was a late 1982 brainchild of novelist Ki Longfellow-Stanshall, the wife of Vivian Stanshall. The showboat was based on the idea of creating, owning, and running a theatre on a sea-going ship and using it to showcase cabaret, comedy, plays, musicals, and poetry events. The ship also contained an art gallery. After changing hands in 1990and now operator by DHP, it’s now an indie landmark and has hosted everyone from Flying Lotus and Foals to Little Comets. Inside, there are viewing platforms, Crystal Maze-style corridors and, presumably, a large gap where the old U-Boat engine once was.

7. Jacaranda Phase One. 40 Seel St, Liverpool L1 4BE

A brand new 400 capacity gig venue, record store, bar and restaurant from the team behind The legendary Jacaranda, Heebie Jeebies and EBGBS. Aptly named Jacaranda Records: Phase One due to it being currently unfinished, the venue is setting its sights on becoming Liverpool’s newest musical institution. Currently the mike shift music venue is at the back of the record store which boasts a huge vinyl range and four listening booths built from converted garden sheds. It also has a large courtyard which is home to the temporary Portaloo toilets and will eventually evolve into an extension of the venue as well as a recording studio, tuition pods and practice rooms taking over the basement.

8. Sofar Sounds. Address unknown…..

Not a venue but I felt I had to be included. So in case you have been asleep for the last 10 years and haven’t heard of the concept a Sofar Sounds, its gig a secret intimate show held in a unique venue. It started in people’s living rooms, which is where the name came from and has now expanded to include everything from galleries, roof tops to antique shops. It typically features three artists; playing four songs each and every line-up is specially curated to give the audiences a diverse show. To add to the mystery, you apply for tickets not knowing the venue or even the act. From complete unknowns to Karen O and Bastille and now hosting gigs in 433 cities around the world, Sofar is revolution in unusual gig spaces.

9. Wilton’s Music Hall. 1 Graces Alley, London E1 8JB

First opened in 1859, Wilton’s is the world’s oldest music hall. Eighties pop fans will recognise its period balcony, distressed wood and peeling walls from Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s 1984 video for Relax. More recently, in June 2012, it hosted similarly sexed-up R&B loverman The Weeknd’s debut UK show. Entering into Wilton’s is like stepping back in time, it is a testament to years of loving restoration. The 300-year old building originally created from five houses now hosts a rich variety of theatre, cabaret, classical and shows, and has held gigs by the likes of Wild Beasts, Lianne La Havas, Anna Calvi and Kelis.

10. Brunel’s Thames Tunnel Shaft. Railway Ave, Rotherhithe, London SE16 4LF

This unlikely cultural venue is exactly what it sounds like it is, a Victorian shaft under London’s Thames Tunnel. Run by The Brunel Museum, architects had add a cantilevered staircase to make the 75ft-deep hall of the 1843 Grade II listed shaft accessible. It was originally used as the entrance to the first ever underwater tunnel structure, referred to as the Eighth Wonder of The World back in its heyday. These days, the tunnel forms part of Wapping Station and the East London line.