Under Review - The Albert Hall, Manchester

         

                          

To kick off a new feature we have been looking into things that can make or break a gig. Sometimes it’s sound quality, sometimes it’s the view (or lack of), sometimes it’s the drink prices and occasionally it’s just a terrible performance. In this instance we’ll be assuming that you favourite bands are as talented as you’d hoped and see how you can get the best possible experience by looking into what the venues have to offer.

To start us off what better way than with a grade II listed chapel in the heart of Manchester?I’m not kidding! What was once a meeting place for Methodist’s and blocked off from the world for 40 years has now had a new lease of life in the form of a dedicated event venue - The Albert Hall, Peter Street, Manchester.
The venue has been revamped by Trof, the same people who run Manchester’s Gorilla and The Deaf Institute so it comes with the experience and reputation to back it up as well as an incredible location.

Upon arrival you are greeted with well-stocked bar, a cloakroom and merchandise area, all of which is pleasantly spacious for those pre gig drinks.
Head into the main room and you will no doubt be taken back by the fact that is still an old hall, albeit, one with a bar on each side and a stage in front. If I was a religious man; this would be my place of worship.

Upstairs, the balcony wraps around the entire hall and the venue is overlooked by the beautiful stained glass windows that create a somewhat eerie but incredible atmosphere. There are no seats, instead, there are bleachers; it’s pretty much a first come first serve on where you sit but the lack of chairs creates a lot more room and a relaxed seating environment. If you don’t plan on dancing, as the security may stop you for health and safety reasons (inadvertent balcony dive for example) then I would highly recommend the balcony option. From up here you can get a real view of the beauty of this place and a clear view of the stage. Before the bands even start I have already decided that I will be returning to this venue.

The sound is always going to be an important factor at a concert. I fully appreciate the atmosphere, otherwise I would sit at home listening through my earphones without any fear of spilling my drink; I’m happy to say that my now high expectations of the Albert Hall aren’t let down by the audio quality.
The entertainment for this particular evening is Warpaint,  supported by The Garden. The sound is loud enough to fill the room without distorting and the range in frequencies stretched from low dubbed bass to high pitched vocal harmonies with little to no loss. Naturally, with the size and shape of the room it has to be said that reverb is present throughout, imagine the hall setting on any audio software and you’ll get the idea. This, for Warpaint, is a welcome enhancement as their breathy harmonies and delayed guitar tones are complimented by this, but if you want for more of a tight and fast sound as per some of The Garden’s set then it can be lost in the space of the hall.

As for the view, the venue is not so big that the tiered section needs a screen (or even good vision) to see the act clearly and the floor area has enough room with a high enough stage to maneuver into a decent spot without much hassle. With the balcony reaching around to the sides of the stage, everyone on stage is clearly visible, which drum enthusiasts in particular will love. The high ceiling supports huge backdrops and the lighting is good without being intrusive.
If you like to get involved with the crowd then the floor is the place for you, the stage is within arm’s reach for those “They touched me” moments.  If you want to sit back and enjoy the show with your drink safe in hand then the balcony is perfect.

Overall, The Albert Hall has jumped straight to the top of my list and apparently many others too. A number of shows played here have sold out over other dates, not because of the capacity but due to the fact that people just love to visit this revived treasure. The surrounding area has some incredible bars and food joints for those looking to make a day/night of it, and with Deansgate Train Station, the Manchester Central Metro Station, Shuttle Buses and parking all within walking distance: transport should never be a reason to miss out. There may be other venues in the surrounding area with a tighter sound but for the overall experience, atmosphere and views then The Albert Hall is one to look out for.

 

 

View

*****

Plenty of floor space and a huge balcony for the shorter folks. It is worth noting that not all gigs here will allow free access to the balcony but they are clearly advertised with VIP options.

Sound

***

Overall good sound but hall levels of reverb can be expected.

Intimacy

****

The stage close to the crowd and meet and greets are possible before and after shows.

Location

*****

The venue is surrounded by incredible bars and food joints including Brewdog and Almost Famous

Transport/Parking

*****

Trains, Regular buses, Metro link and plenty of parking within a short walking distance.

Refreshments

****

A great selection of Ales, spirits and all the main brands in soft drinks. Bars are in both the front and main hall. Prices are a little above but not unreasonable for the quality

Accessibility

***

There are accessible toilets and entrances but accessing the balcony may be tricky. There is an accessible toilet upstairs but no bar for refreshments.

Staff

*****

Bar and security staff were all friendly and knowledgeable

Facilities

****

Accessible with plenty of toilets and a cloakroom

Overall

****

Highly recommended

 


 

Upcoming shows include:

 

THU 30 APR

CALEXICO

 

TUE 05 MAY

TWIN ATLANTIC

 

WED 06 MAY

  SUPER FURRY ANIMALS


Venue review by Adam Towers
       

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