Manchester International Festival

MIF15 launches an exciting programe of familiar faces and new commissions (2nd – 19th July 2015)


While the Manchester International Festival has been on my radar, I’ve never really engaged with it, assuming that it was for those with better groomed beards.

And I’ve always found out about things way too late – only to discover that the tickets have all gone. Not that I’ve known many names in the programme. I’ve smiled and nodded and then had to go away and Google, feeling like a most uncultured numpty.

All of which have conspired to make me believe that the Manchester International Festival was intimidating and not for people like me.


MIF15 launch


So this year I bit the bullet and got myself on the guest list for the 2015 programme launch event.


Ten years old and counting


However, just as I finally make it to the party, Alex Poots, the festival’s founding CEO and artistic director announces his move to a new role in New York.

Although he says that he leaves our city with a heavy heart, he’s leaving an incredible legacy – an internationally renowned festival which brings art lovers from right around the world to Manchester.

It’s a festival which will soon find a new home in the newly announced multi-million pound  Factory which is due to be built on the Old Granada Studios site.

Running thought the programme, it’s full of exciting new collaborations which push the boundaries to their extremes.

With the lights dimmed and ambient tunes turned up, the anticipation was palpable. By the end of the presentation I was sold!



There is something for everyone in the MIF15 programme, and my advice is would be – if you don’t recognise some of the names, just go with it anyway, try something different and trust that Alex Poots has found something spectacular.

Across a range of Manchester venues, in an attempt to counter criticism that the festival is elitist, it’s allocated 10% of tickets to low waged people (under £14,000) with a Manchester postcode. Performances from Mancunians also weave through their way through many of the commissioned pieces. is a new musical inspired by Alice in Wonderland, adapted to modern day. Poots was looking for a project which would lure back festival favourite Damon Albarn, which was both English and eccentric, but which would translate internationally.

A collaboration with The National Theatre and with War Horse’s set designer, this new musical is a modern story of a modern family with an  internet addiction to the computer game While all the usual characters will be there – some will live in the real world, while others will lie in the audio visual world within cyber space.


Albarn describes it as an “electro musical”. It sounds amazing! will be performed at The Palance Theatre (29th June – 12th July)

To find out more and to book tickets click here



High Tea in Wonderland


Continuing the ‘Alice’ theme, acclaimed chef Mary-Ellen McTague will create a magical food event behind the scenes at Manchester Museum.


High tea in wonderland


High Tea in Wonderland can be found at Manchester Museum on Sundays 5th,12th and 19th July.

To find out more and to book tickets click here



The Skriker at The Royal Exchange


Festival and Manchester theatre royalty, Maxine Peake and Sarah Frankcom will be bringing The Skriker to the Royal Exchange. This play, which was last seen in the UK 20 years ago centres around a shape shifting fairy which hovers between fairytale and nightmare. Described as the earth’s last cry, it promises to be a production which makes enormous demands on it’s performers and on it’s audience.


Skriker MIF15.

The Skriker will be performed at The Royal Exchange (1st – 18th July)

To find out more and to book tickets click here



Björk one-off gig at Castlefield


Björk is coming back to the festival to preview her new album in a spectacular gig at the Castlefield Arena (8,000 capacity).



The concert is on Sunday 5th July.

For more information and to book tickets, click here



Tree of Codes – new contemporary ballet


A new ballet by acclaimed choreographer Wayne McGregor has been commissioned for the festival – with a kicking sound track by producer and remix artist Jamie XX. Soloists and dances from The Paris Opera Ballet (arguably the best in the world) will perform alongside Wayne’s own dance company and will feature Marie-Agnès Gillot ….. the French Darcey Bussell.

Tree of Codes will be performed at The Opera House (2nd – 10th July)

For more information and to book tickets, click here



Arvo Pärt and Gerhard Richter collaboration


Acclaimed visual artist Gerhard Richter and Arvo Pärt (the most performed living composer in the world) have made work inspired by and dedicated to each other.

Several years in the planning, these works will be united for the first time at The Whitworth art gallery (five paintings and choral music) and accompanied by an evening of Pärt’s music performed by Manchester Camerata at The Bridgewater Hall.

The Whitworth (9th – 19th July). For more information (free event) click here

Manchester Camerata at The Bridgewater Hall (12th July). For more information and to book tickets click here



The Tale of Mr Tumble


Families and children will be treated to The Tale of Mr Tumble at Manchester’s Opera House. It’s hoped that this new production will spark a life long love of theatre in children.

Following a long tradition of vaudeville performers (think Charlie Chaplin), CBeebies’ Justin Fletcher will be introducing us to many new members of his family. The show will also feature 400 Manchester children (including those with special educational needs) in a massive Makaton / sign language choir.


Mr Tumble

The Tale of Mr Tumble will be performed at Manchester’s Opera House (11th – 19th July).

For more information and to book tickets, click here



Ed Atkins – Performance Capture


Manchester Art Gallery will host three rooms dedicated to computer-generated moving image work. Performers from the festival will don motion action suits which will collectively be distilled into one avatar, thus documenting the festival in an extremely innovative way.

This is a free performance at Manchester Art Gallery (4th – 19th July). For more information, click here


The Immortal by Mark Simpson


Prepare to be spooked! Mark Simpson is one of Britain’s brightest young composers, winning both BBC Young Musician and Young Composer of the Year.

The Immortal, which will be performed at The Bridgewater Hall by the BBC Philharmonic, explores obsession with death inspired by notes from 19th century seanses. The programme, which will be the premier of his first large scale commission, will be completed by Mozart’s Requiem.

The Immortal will be performed at The Bridgewater Hall (4th July). For more information and to book tickets, click here



Neck of the Woods


Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon and celebrated pianist Hélène Grimaud will create a portrait of a wolf in a collision of visual art, music and threatre at new arts centre HOME – with words provided by Charlotte Rampling.


Neck of Woods


For more information and to book tickets (10th – 18th July), click here



Mercury Prize winner FKA twigs


FKA twigs will be making her MIF debut with a residency at Old Granada Studios, making seven short films over the week, with audiences invited to observe the process.


FKA twigs


For more information and to book tickets (9th – 15th July), click here



FlexN Manchester


Flying in from Brooklyn especially for the festival launch, Reggie ‘Roc’ Gray and three of FlexN dancers certainly made a statement. If you are FlexN you’ll be bone breaking, pausing, flexing and generally leaving your audience wondering how on earth a body can make shapes that just don’t seem normal. It was breath taking!




Ten dancers from Manchester will visit the FlexN team in Brooklyn to share styles and ideas – bringing them back to Old Granada Studios for a very special performance for the Manchester International Festival.

For more information and to book tickets (11th – 12th July), click here



The Age of Starlight


Festival Director Alex Poots described this as his riskiest ever commission as the piece of technology at the heart of it is still in the process of being created. The Age of Starlight will be a world first show about the origin of the universe, bought to life by incredible new cinematic technology. This 21st century planetarium will use glasses which bring CGI images into your field of vision.

The collaborative team includes Prof Brian Cox – the project will be announced and presented at this year’s festival with a full premier of the finished article in 2016.

Google are apparently investing gazillions into this technology which is predicted to eventually find itself on over 1 billion mobile hand sets.

You saw it here first!




For more information, click here



Festival Square in Albert Square


There will be 18 days of free entertainment in Albert Square. 125,000 people visited last year from all walks of life. There will be a BBC studio on site, music, DJ’s, Heathcotes restaurant and a variety of street food.

If you’ve got a comedy itch that needs scratching, then Festival Square is also the place to head with a full programme of fun and frivolity including late night cabarets and a comedy reworking of Dostoyevsky’s The Crocodile!


Festival Square MIF


For more information, a full programme and to book tickets click here



Club Culture


Traditional show closer – Yellow, will once again be rocking Festival Square with Hacienda DJ Dave Haslam and guests (18th July). For more information and to book tickets click here

However, for it’s 10th anniversary and to close the show this year, there will be two nights of clubbing at Mayfield Depot with the Warehouse project (17th -18th July). For more information and to book tickets, click here


So it’s something for everyone, with both familiar and new faces bringing some really exciting collaborations to Manchester – consolidating our fine city as a major international arts hub.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples, MIF






Cultural What’s On May 2014

What’s on in Manchester – theatre, music, cinema and arts


Lorna McBride


Stepping swiftly into May, we’ve got some top cultural tit-bits for you to enjoy in Manchester this month.

Regular guest blogger Lorna is back on the blog today with her monthly look ahead at what’s coming up at the theatre and cinema, and the music and arts we’ve got to look forward to.





Jimmy Carr, The Lowry

Acid tongued comedian and 8 out of 10 Cats presenter Jimmy Carr comes to The Lowry on Saturday 24th May.

Carr pulls no punches in his stand up and you’re bound to wince as many times as you spit your drink out laughing. A must see on the comedy front, just make sure you don’t sit ANYWHERE near the front or do so at your own risk of becoming part of the show.

For more information visit


Britannia Waves The Rules, Royal Exchange Theatre

The World Premiere of a Bruntwood Prize winning play, Britannia Waves The Rules, comes to the Royal Exchange Theatre between 27th May and 7th June.

Carl doesn’t fit in at home. He doesn’t fit in anywhere. When he signs up for the army, he sees it as a chance to escape the grim reality of life in his hometown. But the army takes him to Afghanistan. And when he comes home, it’s not as a war hero but as a changed man.

For more information visit


Britannia Royal Exchange


Cirque Du Soleil: Dralion, Phones4U Arena

One to book ahead for, I feel like everyone should get to see at least one show by Cirque Du Soleil in their lifetime. Dralion comes to Manchester between 11th and 15th June in a spectacular of acrobatics and costumes that could be high definition if they were on tv.

Dralion draws it’s inspiration from Eastern philosophy and it’s never ending quest for harmony between humans and nature, in it’s first ever UK arena tour.

For more information visit





Tracks, now showing cinema wide

The unbelievable and actually true story of Aussie woman Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) who abandoned civilisation to embark on a impossible 2000 mile trek across the deserts of Australia in 1977.

Robyn travels alone accompanied only by a few camels and a dog for company, aside from the occasional visit by a National Geographic photographer called Rick (played by Adam Driver, of Girls fame).




Transcendence, now showing cinema wide

As if a film starring Johnny Depp is not reason enough to go and see it, Transcendence is a mind bending sci fi thriller about a scientist whose consciousness is uploaded – in a world where technology is fast replacing natural evolution.

The directorial debut of ‘Inception’ director Christopher Nolan’s regular cinematographer Wally Pfister, also starring an excellent supporting cast including Cillian Murphy and Morgan Freeman.




X-Men: Days of Future Past, in cinemas 22nd May

Original X-Men director Bryan Singer returns to the helm for this mind-bending, time-hopping adventure, seeing the ultimate X-Men cast (including Michael Fassbender, Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence and more) unite to fight a spectacular war for survival across two time periods.

It is 2023 and mutants are on the verge of extinction, hunted by giant robotic sentinels. Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) hatch a last desperate plan. They send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973 on a make-or-break mission.






Echo and the Bunnymen, The Ritz

Echo and the Bunnymen bring their dark, swirling fusion of gloomy post-punk and Doors inspired psychdelia to Manchester on Wednesday 14th May ahead of the release of their new album Meteroites.

The band hail from Liverpool and had hits in the 80s and 90s with Killing Moon and Nothing Lasts Forever.

For more information visit


Echo & the Bunnymen


Katy Perry, Phones4U Arena

Pop starlet extraordinaire Katy Perry will be kicking off the first leg of her Prismatic world tour in the UK and will be bringing it to Manchester on Tuesday 20th and Friday 24th May, to showcase her latest number one album Prism.

Expect spectacular costumes and staging, with Perry herself describing the show as “a feast for your eyes”. 

For more information visit


Kings Of Leon, Phones4U Arena

Heads up to grab tickets before they go…American rockers Kings of Leon ride into Manchester on Wednesday 18th June on the back of their sixth studio album, Mechanical Bull.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past decade or so you’ll be thrilled to hear back catalogue classics Molly’s Chambers and Sex On Fire performed alongside recent hits Supersoaker and Temple.

For more information visit



Art and Exhibitions


From the War of Nature, Manchester Museum

Boxing hares, burrowing parasites, baby birds and prowling wolves are just some of the characters appearing in this story of predation, competition, co-operation and collaboration in Manchester Museum’s current exhibition.

The exhibition reveals that living things resolve conflict in many, often unexpected, ways and aims to challenge the perception that war is an inevitable outcome of conflict. From the War of Nature coincides with the nationwide commemoration of the start of World War I.

For more information visit


Reactions14: Second Breath with English National Ballet, IWM North

For one night only on Saturday 17th May the English National Ballet perform Second Breath, choreographed by internationally acclaimed British choreographer Russell Maliphant,within IWM North’s cavernous Main Exhibition Space.

Part of Museums at Night, the evening will also include music by Manchester’s own Vintage 78DJs and more.

For more information visit


Collider, MOSI

A look into the world’s greatest science experiment opens at MOSI on the 23rd May. Buried deep under the border between Switzerland and France is CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.  This immersive exhibition blends theatre, video and sound art with real artefacts from CERN, recreating a visit to the famous particle physics laboratory.

Discover how studying the subatomic world can point the way to a fuller understanding of our universe.

For more information visit




Have fun exploring our city of culture this month. If there is anything that you think should be added please leave a comment in the box below.


Lorna x


Photographs: The Royal Exchange Theatre, The Ritz, MOSI


Other articles by Lorna

Cultural preview – March 2014

Cultural preview – February 2014

Cultural preview – December 2013

Review of War Horse at The Lowry

Pantomimes and children’s shows this Christmas

Cultural preview – November 2013

Cultural preview – October 2013

Review of Glamorous Amorous – The Ladyboys of Bangkok






Goldfrapp at The Lowry

Turning the clock back with a canvas of delicious sound


There was a brief moment in the summer of 2004, where it seemed as though every concert, festival or indeed advert seemed to feature Goldfrapp. The fact the Duran Duran chose the duo as their support act that year was enough to reel me in.

I have memories of pumping, electronic beats, ridiculously perfect and pure vocals and an avant garde Alison Goldfrapp complete with a full size horses tail.That was our summer – Utopia, Strict Machine, Lovely Head and Ride a White Horse became a permanent fixture on my CD player.

Alison Goldfrapp Performer as Curator


But then they disappeared from my radar.

Until I visited the Alison Goldfrapp Performer as Curator Exhibition at The Lowry – the first in a series where noted performers curate an exhibition which draws from their artistic influences – art, sculpture, film and instillations.



From the Goldfrapp exhibition it was clear to see that myth, folk law, fairy tales – both dark and light, have all contributed to a style which I can only describe as painting with sound.

The exhibition opened in October and ran until just a few weeks ago.

Following an appearance at last Autumn’s Manchester International Festival where they performed with The RNCM String Orchestra, Goldfrapp were back in Manchester at The Lowry for one night only.




The set opened with a recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and The Wolf, introducing us to the different instruments in an orchestra, where each has a tune that represents a different woodland animal. In doing so it set the scene for a very different Goldfrapp from the high energy imprint in my memory.

Goldfrapp’s new album Tales of Us is much softer and more subtle – the guitars and electro are gone, replaced by a string accompaniment. There is without doubt a Bond theme tune in there!

It was beautiful to listen to, but I was missing my beautiful, bonkers performer as Alison Goldfrapp stayed resolutely attached to the microphone stand.

You’ll see from this image that our seats were about as far away as it was physically possible to get from the stage. We were so high up in the gods that it almost induced a nose bleed! However, we were straight in front of the stage with a cracking view.


Goldfrapp Concert


It was a concert of two halves. While the audience were transfixed by the more orchestral arrangements – it was the glam rock, electro pulsating beats and luminous vocals of their earlier work which got (most) of the audience to their feet and Alison Goldfrapp away from her stand.

It’s energy and magic as we regressed through their back catalogue bought the stage alive and hypnotised the audience with pulsating repetition and rapid strobe lights.

Once more I left a Goldfrapp concert in awe of Alison Goldfrapp’s vocals and in love with the canvas of gorgeous sounds that they’d created. But yet again unable to put a label on just what exactly their style is. It’s a bit of folk, mixed with a touch of traditional Japanese / Nordic style, wrapped up with electro glam rock and topped with disco. All of which combine to achieve something really rather rare – a truly unique sound.





 Alison x (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Greenwich Photography via Wikipedia Creative Commons, The Lowry

Video: Goldfrapp performing ‘Train’ from the ‘Tales Of Us’ cinema event and live performance in partnership with Belvedere Vodka.







Cultural What’s On March 2014

What’s on – theatre, music, cinema and arts


Lorna McBride


Is it March already? I must have blinked – or nodded off!

So what does this month have in store for us Mancunians – culturally speaking?

We’ve got Lorna back on the blog today with her monthly look ahead at what’s coming up at the theatre and cinema, and the music and arts we’ve got to look forward to.





Much Ado About Nothing, Royal Exchange

One of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, Much Ado About Nothing comes to the Royal Exchange Theatre between the 27th March and 3rd May. The play chronicles the parallel tales of two pairs of lovers: the wise and witty Benedick and Beatrice, who think love has passed them by and hopeless romantics, Claudio and Hero.

For more information visit


Much Ado About Nothing



Last Days of Troy, Royal Exchange Theatre

A heads up for the just announced world premiere of The Last Days of Troy at the Royal Exchange from 8th May until 7th June. This new play by nationally acclaimed poet and author Simon Armitage will star Lily Cole as Helen of Troy, and will surely be a sell out.

For more information visit


Wicked, The Lowry

Another (long) look ahead to get tickets ASAP is Wicked, the magical musical which is coming to The Lowry between 3rd June and 25th July 2015. In the days before Hogwarts was every witch’s school of choice, Wicked tells the story of the unlikely friendship between two sorcery students who will ultimately fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West, in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’.

For more information visit





The Grand Budapest Hotel, Cornerhouse

I cannot contain my excitement for director Wes Anderson’s newest film The Grand Budapest Hotel, coming to Cornerhouse on the 7th March. Ralph Fiennes leads as the charismatic Gustave H, concierge at the prestigious Grand Budapest Hotel. When Gustave H takes Junior Lobby Boy Zero Moustafa under his wing as a protégé, the madcap adventure begins. Also starring some of Anderson’s favourite collaborators Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Bill Murray.

For more information visit






Her, cinema wide  

In an age of constant updates and more social interactions taking place through devices and technology than actual human encounters, ‘Her’ tells the story of a modern day romance. A lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his computer operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) and retreats from the real world, in a witty and moving look at the complexities – and simplicities of relationships. In cinemas now.

For more information visit






The Book Thief, cinema wide

Adapted from the international bestseller by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief tells the moving story of a book-loving girl who bonds with a Jewish refugee in Nazi Germany during the late 1930’s. Directed by Brian Percival, best know for his directing of several episodes of Downton Abbey, the film gives a child’s eye view of the horrors of the Holocaust. In cinemas now.

For more information visit







Rebecca Fergusson


Rebecca Ferguson, Bridgewater Hall

One of the classier ladies to emerge from the ashes of X-Factor series past is Liverpool born singer-songwriter Rebecca Ferguson.

She’ll be bringing a dose of glamour, pop and soul to the Bridgewater Hall on 24th March, following the release of her most recent single All That I’ve Got from her Freedom album.


For more information visit


We Are Scientists, The Ritz

American indie rockers ‘We Are Scientists’ are back with full force timed to coincide with the release of their fourth album TV En Français. They will be playing at Manchester’s bounciest floored venue, The Ritz on the 9th March where you’ll be the first to hear their newest tunes.

For more information visit

gary barlow


Gary Barlow, Phones 4 U arena

A look-ahead-and-get-in-there-fast alert to bag tickets for the first solo tour of all around national treasure Gary Barlow.

Having stolen many a heart and cemented his status as a song writer, Gary Barlow will be coming to/most likely selling out the Phones 4 U arena on the 14th April.

For more information visit



Art & Exhibitions


Vanishing for the Vote, People’s History Museum

The 8th March brings us International Women’s Day and the Manchester born Pankhurst family are some of the most celebrated suffragettes in history for their efforts to gain votes for women. Vanishing for the Vote, at the People’s History Museum until April 2014 explores how women boycotted the 1911 government census in protest at being denied the vote.

*Please note the exhibition will be closed on Wednesday 5th March.

For more information visit


Joana Vasconcelos: Time Machine, Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery has gone all out with a major new exhibition by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. Super sized, site-specific installations invade the gallery, including some of the artists larger scale works like War Games 2011, a black Morris Oxford car covered in toy rifles and LEDs, filled with brightly coloured soft and plastic toys – in addition to many never before seen pieces.

For more information visit



Joana Vasconcelos



Sanctuary from the Trenches, Dunham Massey

This month local National Trust gem Dunham Massey, in Altrincham, reopens its splendid house again for the season, with a huge difference. Parts of the house have been turned back in time to when it was a military hospital providing Sanctuary from the Trenches for over 300 soldiers during the First World War.

For more information visit


Have fun exploring our city of culture this month.


Lorna x


Photographs: The Royal Exchange Theatre, Phones4U Arena, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester Art Gallery


Lorna x


Photographs: Royal Exchange, Manchester Gallery of Costume


Other articles by Lorna

Cultural preview – February 2014

Cultural preview – December 2013

Review of War Horse at The Lowry

Pantomimes and children’s shows this Christmas

Cultural preview – November 2013

Cultural preview – October 2013

Review of Glamorous Amorous – The Ladyboys of Bangkok





February’s Cultural Preview

What’s on – theatre, music, cinema and arts


Lorna McBride


So what does February have in store for us Mancunians?

We’ve got Lorna back on the blog today with her monthly look ahead at what’s coming up at the theatre and cinema, and the music and arts we’ve got to look forward to.





Let It Be, Palace Theatre

Help! Dig out your moptop and get caught up in Beatlemania with Let It Be, a swinging show of over 40 rock n roll hits celebrating the rise and rise of the fab foursome.

Direct from the West End the show runs from the 28th February until the 8th March 2014 at the Palace Theatre…What’s that, you’ve already gone to dust off your vinyl?

For more information visit letitbe/palacetheatremanchester


Orlando, Royal Exchange Theatre

Manchester born actress Suranne Jones (Corrie, Scott & Bailey) brings to life this adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando.  Described as ‘a magical comedy of time travel and gender swapping’, Orlando is a young man about town, or should that be about court, during the reign of Elizabeth I.

He wakes up one day to find himself with the body of a woman, and as time spins forward through the centuries we glimpse what being a woman and a human being can actually mean.  Showing at the Royal Exchange Theatre between 20th February – 22nd March 2014.

For more information visit


Suranne Jones as Orlando





Inside Llewyn Davis

Super directing duo the Coen Brothers are at it again, this time with comedy / drama Inside Lleywn Davis. Set in uber cool 1960’s New York the film tells the tale of struggling folk singer Llewyn Davis – who is juggling a music career with cat sitting duties, helped along by his friends Jim (Justin Timberlake) and Jean (Carey Mulligan).




The Butler

Based on a true story, The Butler has an all star cast including Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda and Alan Rickman to mention a few.  Starting an incredible 34 year career as a butler in the White House in 1957, Cecil Westfall serves eight presidents and is afforded a unique President’s eye view of some of the most notable historic moments in American history from the Civil Rights Movement to the Vietnam war.




The Railway Man

A sure fire tear jerker starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, based on the incredible memoir of Eric Lomax, a British Army officer who is tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labour camp during the Second World War. Having suffered silently for decades with the post traumatic stress of his captivity, Lomax discovers his torturer is still alive decades later and goes in search of revenge, to an emotive and surprising end.






Tom Odell, O2 Apollo Manchester

Young singer songwriter Tom Odell will certainly be one to watch this year, fresh off the back of his 2013 Critics Choice BRIT award. Best known songs from his acclaimed album Long Way Down are likely to be ‘Another Love’ and ‘I Know’ – well worth a ticket to his gig at the Apollo on Tuesday 11th February 2014.

For more information visit tomodelltickets





Bastille, O2 Apollo Manchester

If you listened to the radio at all last year you’ll know Bastille’s ‘Pompeii’ became an anthem of 2013. Nominated for 4 BRIT Awards this February, including Best Breakthrough Act and Best Album, this London four piece are coming to the O2 Apollo on Friday 28th February 2014.

For more information visit Bastilletickets





Elbow, Phones 4U Arena

Looking into the not too distant future and still with time to grab tickets, alt rockers Elbow are back on home turf and sure to fill the Phones 4U Arena to the brim on Wednesday 9th April with a storming set.  Throw those curtains wide and get your hands on tickets before they go.

 For more information visit




Art / Culture


Syria: Humanity in Conflict, IWM North

A concise but powerful exhibition of photographs taken by award winning Italian-Syrian photographer, Ibrahim Malla.  The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) have been at the front line of the humanitarian response in Syria since fighting erupted in March 2011.

This display of powerful images, accompanied by extracts of volunteer’s personal accounts, depicts the work of SARC volunteers who are putting their lives on the line in the current conflict and humanitarian crisis. Opens Saturday 8th February 2014.

For more information visit


Ossie Clark, Gallery of Costume

The small but perfectly formed Gallery of Costume takes a retrospective look at iconic British designer Ossie Clark.

Originally born in Cheshire and starting out his studies at the former Manchester College of Art (now Man Met uni), Clark went on to become one of the most influential designers of the 1960s and 70’s.  He is also known for collaborating and marrying textile designer Celia Birtwell, whose fashion forward prints feature in many of his creations.

The exhibition showcases 25 outfits from the Gallery’s collections, many on display for the first time in Manchester.  Runs until June 2014.

 For more information visit


 Ossie Clarke 1968


Gone Fishing, Gallery Oldham

Oldham was the birthplace of fish and chips and now you can appreciate this British classic without breaking your new year diet.  Gallery Olham’s Gone Fishing exhibition pays homage to all things fishy in an eclectic exhibition featuring paintings, fossils and models – many on display for the first time!

For more information visit


So you see – February isn’t just about Valentine’s Day! I hope this gives you some ideas for things to do this month.


Lorna x


Photographs: Royal Exchange, Manchester Gallery of Costume


Other articles by Lorna

Cultural preview – December 2013

Review of War Horse at The Lowry

Pantomimes and children’s shows this Christmas

Cultural preview – November 2013

Cultural preview – October 2013

Review of Glamorous Amorous – The Ladyboys of Bangkok






My top 5 favourite Xmas No 1′s

What would be your Top of the Pops?


If all goes to plan, this evening I’m wrapping all my Christmas presents.

BUT – an operation such as this requires the right sound track (and a glass of sherry).

I’ve had the same Christmas CD for about 10 years now and frankly I’m a bit bored of Slade and Shakin’ Stevens.


Christmas CD
So, I’ve been having a look back at previous Christmas No 1′s to see if I can find something a bit different, and have come up with my top five.

But before I cut to the chase, I have a few little facts for you.


Did you know that …….


The Beatles top the chart when it comes to the most Christmas Number 1′s with:

  • I want to hold your hand (1963)
  • I feel fine (1964)
  • Day tripper (1965)
  • Hello Goodbye (1967)

Of course Paul McCartney had another bite of the cherry in 1977 with Wings and Mull of Kintyre which as far as I can remember stayed at Number 1 for the rest of the year!


In the ’90′s


In the ‘90’s, Christmas bought itself a Union Jack dress and a pair of platforms and belted out a big dose of ‘Girl Power’. With three Christmas Number 1′s – thank you The Spice Girls for:

  • 2 become 1 (1996)
  • Too Much (1997)
  • Goodbye (1998)

It sounds like one of my previous relationships from around that time.


Band Aid


Band Aid have changed their line up more times than the Sugababes, but it didn’t stop them charting at Number 1 in Christmas 1984, 1989 and 2004 with Do they Know it’s Christmas? It’s just a guess – but I think they probably do!




While people across the Commonwealth sit down at 3 o’clock every Christmas to watch the Queen’s speech, she isn’t the only Queen to have ruled at Christmas. In 1975 and again in 1991, rock God’s Queen topped the chart with Bohemian Rhapsody – complete with Beelzebub in his sideboard!


Same Song, Different Artist


The crown for same song, different artist goes to Mary’s Boy Child which reached Number 1 with Harry Belafonte in 1957 and Boney M in 1978.


Are you impressed? I’ve been doing some very in depth research!


Cliff Richard


While at one point in the late ‘80’s if felt like Cliff Richard was Christmas Number 1 every year – he actually only managed it twice (I say only – it’s twice more than I’ve managed), with ‘Mistletoe and Wine in 1988 and Saviours Day in 1990. Though he did manage a cheeky Number 1 in 1960 with The Shadows and I Love You.

And I love you too Cliff, so I guess we can bump you up to three.


Novelty Christmas Number 1′s


We’ve had some stonkingly bad novelty Number 1’s over the years. Who could forget (though I’m sure we’d all love to), Mr Blobby with Mr Blobby (Blobby, Blobby) in 1993, Renee & Renato with Save Your Love in 1982, St Winifred’s School Choir with There’s no one quite like Grandma in 1980, Bennie Hill with Ernie (fastest milkman in the west) in 1971 and Bob the Builder with Can we fix it? in 2000.


Ridiculous Name Award


However the ‘ridiculous name’ award goes to neither Mr Blobby nor Bob the Builder, but Conrad Twitty who was top of the pops Christmas 1958 with It’s only make believe. But unfortunately it wasn’t – that really was his name.


Reality Show Winners


Sadly the ‘noughties’ and I suspect the ‘teenies’ have become very predictable, being dominated by reality show winners – mainly The X Factor.

In 2002 we had Girls Aloud with The Sound of the Underground. In 2005 Shayne Ward, 2006 Leona Lewis, 2007 Leon Jackson, 2008 Alexandra Burke and 2010 Matt Cardle. Only Joe McElderry, Little Mix and James Arthur have failed to make it to Christmas Number 1, pipped at the post by Rage Against the Machine and Killing in the name (after a huge campaign for an anti X Factor 2009 protest vote), The Military Wives with Gareth Malone and Wherever you are, and The Justice Collective with He Ain‘t Heavy, He’s My Brother last year.


Will this year’s Number 1 be X Factor’s Sam Bailey with Skyscraper or something else?



My Top 5 Favourite Christmas Number 1′s


So enough of this preamble – I’ve scoured the list of Christmas Number ones and here are my favourite Top 5.


5. Michael Andrews starring Gary JulesMad World. Christmas 2003 (because it’s so haunting).



4. Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman – ‘Something Stupid’. Christmas 2001 (for the sexual chemistry).



3. Winifred Atwell – Let’s Have Another Party. Christmas 1954 (because it reminds me of my mum who was a big Winifred Atwell fan. And because would be rude not to have another party!



2. Danny Williams – ‘Moon River’. Christmas 1961 (last dance at our wedding).



1. Dickie Valentine – ‘Christmas Alphabet’. Christmas 1955 (a good old fashioned Christmas song).



Whatever your favourite Christmas tune – bang it on your CD player / ipod, crack open the sherry, swing your baubles and wrap along.



Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples












X-Factor’s Sam Bailey interview

Asking the questions we all want to know!


Sam Bailey Sky Scraper


Would you believe it!

It turns out that my new neighbour is radio DJ Nicksy – who has been on the air in the Northwest for the last 13 years at Galaxy 102, Key 103, Heart and BBC Radio.

Over a cup of tea and a neighbourly chat about the bins, he mentioned that he was going to be interviewing X-Factor winner Sam Bailey.

And he very kindly agreed to ask a few questions from us.



Thank you to everyone who sent in suggestions.

Our hard hitting Paxman-esque questions included:

1. What’s your guilty pleasure to sing in the shower.

2. How are you going to juggle being X-Factor winner with being a mum.

I have to say, she answered them really honestly and genuinely seems to be a bit shell shocked about what’s just happened to her.

Our questions kick in after about four minutes.



A big thank you again to Nicksy (@Nicksy) and to Sam for answering our questions.

Sam’s new single is Skyscraper which you can download here. 100% of profits from the sales of each CD single and download will be shared equally between Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and Together For Short Lives


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: iTunes












Cultural preview – December

Theatre, music, cinema and arts – what’s on


Lorna McBride


We’ve got Lorna back on the blog today with her monthly look ahead at what’s coming up at the theatre and cinema, and the music and arts we’ve got to look forward to.

This month we’re definitely in the Christmas groove, with some great shows and heads up where the tickets are expected to sell out quickly!


Over to you Lorna ……




1. War Horse at The Lowry Based on Michael Morpungo’s 1982 novel, the critically acclaimed stage adaptation of War Horse comes to The Lowry.

The moving and harrowing experiences of the First World War are told through the eyes of Joey the horse, a spectacular life sized puppet, as his young owner Albert searches for him through the turmoil of the battlefileds. On until the 18 January 2014 – tickets are going fast or you can book now for next summer if you miss it this time around.

For more information visit


Theatre in Manchester


2. That Day We Sang – Royal Exchange  Victoria Wood’s That Day We Sang is billed as ‘a big-hearted and nostalgic Manchester love story for all the family’. 

First commissioned for the Manchester International Festival in 2011 the uplifting play tells the story of Tubby and Enid in 1969, looking back 40 years to when they sang at the Free Trade Hall as school children. Showing at the Royal Exchange throughout December, until 18th January 2014.

For more information visit


3. Shrek The Musical – Palace Theatre Here’s an advance notice for next year! Everyone’s favourite grumpy ogre rocks up at The Palace Theatre between 2nd December 2014 to Sunday 11th January 2015, following its West End run.

Accompanied by his trusty steed Donkey, follow Shrek’s adventures to rescue princess Fiona from a fire-breathing dragon and defeat the dastardly Lord Farquaad.

For more information visit





1. Saving Mr Banks Saving Mr Banks is the true but little know story behind the making of Disney’s Mary Poppins. Featuring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, as he tries to persuade English author P.L Travers (Emma Thompson) to let her character Mary Poppins have the Disney treatment – much to her distain. In cinemas now.

Cinema December


2. Frozen Disney’s new film Frozen, from the creators of Tangled and Wreck it Ralph, comes to cinemas on the 6th December.

A reinterpretation of the fairytale The Ice Queen, Frozen follows the adventures of young Anna and her quest to save the kingdom from the freezing wrath of her sister, with a little help from Sven the reindeer and a talking snowman.


3. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug A small book turned into a huge film trilogy, this is the second big screen instalment of J.R.R Tolkein’s classic fantasy adventure, The Hobbit.

This time around Bilbo, Gandalf and the thirteen dwarves are on a journey to reclaim the lost dwarf kingdom from the terrifying dragon Smaug.  Released in cinemas on Friday 13th December.





1. Primal Scream at Manchester Academy Following a storming set at this years Glastonbury festival, alt-rockers Primal Scream, whose hits include ‘Country Girl’ and ‘Rocks’ are headed to Manchester Academy on Sunday 15th December.

For more information visit Primal-Scream-tickets


Music Montage


2. Boyzone at Phones 4U Arena Boyzone are back! The Irish pop crooners come to the Manchester Phones 4U Arena on 22nd December for one night only, and it’s guaranteed you’ll be able to sing along to every word.

For more information visit


3. Maroon 5 at Phones 4U Arena Looking ahead to bag tickets for January, super cool American quintet Maroon 5 head over to our side of the pond for a gig on Monday 13th January.  Also Robin Thicke, of recent Blurred Lines/ Miley Cyrus fame is supporting – but don’t let this put you off the headliner.

For more information visit



Art/ Culture


1. She Choir and Sunday Shopping at Manchester Craft and Design Centre A chance to listen to one of Manchester’s top singing collectives, She choir will be performing at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre as part of the Christmas All Wrapped Up events programme. What better way to shop for beautiful, independently made gifts while being serenaded as you shop, on Sunday 15th December.

For more information visit


Arts Manchester


2. Something Rich and Strange at Manchester Museum Something Rich and Strange comes to Manchester Museum, and that something is one of the ocean’s most precious and incredible treasures, Coral.

The exhibition, on until 16th March 2014, places decorative artefacts and artists’ works alongside the museum’s collection of natural specimens – and explores how coral, once an object of curiosity to be plucked from the ocean must be conserved more responsibly.

For more information visit


3. Everyday Relics at MOSI Become a curator and see everyday objects from MOSI’s collections come to life to tell a story about Manchester’s role in the Industrial Revolution, as a modern city and about the lives of its people.

Animations, photographs and oral histories reveal the fascinating stories behind objects as diverse as a Boddington’s beer pump handle to a 1930’s mantle clock.  On until 29th Jun 2014.

For more information visit


I hope this whets your appetite for some of the fabulous cultural events taking place in Manchester this month. Enjoy!


Lorna x


Photographs: Frozen, Saving Mr Banks, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on Wikipedia


Other articles by Lorna

Review of War Horse at The Lowry

Pantomimes and children’s shows this Christmas

Cultural preview – November 2013

Cultural preview – October 2013

Review of Glamorous Amorous – The Ladyboys of Bangkok












Cultural preview – November

Theatre, music, cinema and arts – What’s On


Lorna McBride


We’ve got Lorna back on the blog today with her monthly look ahead at what’s coming up at the theatre and cinema, and the music and arts we’ve got to look forward to.

As usual she’s picked three things for each category with a mix of what’s happening this month, and announcements, where the tickets are expected to sell out quickly!


Over to you Lorna ……




1. Wanted! Robin Hood at The Lowry If, like me, you’re eagerly awaiting the next series of Game of Thrones (sad, yes I know) then get your men-in-tights fix with the Library Theatre’s upcoming production of Wanted! Robin Hood, on at The Lowry.

Written by award winning playwright Charles Way, this new adaptation of a classic is described as a ‘magical adventure’ perfect for families to go and see together. Preview showings are from 29th November.


November's theatre


2. Sweeney Todd at The Royal Exchange Shaving cream at the ready as Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street comes to the Royal Exchange for a month long run throughout November.

The grisly musical is put bought to us in collaboration with West Yorkshire Playhouse and is sure to be a sell out, even if it is minus Johnny Depp.


3. The Northern Ballet Theatre presents A Christmas Carol at The Palace Theatre, combining traditional ballet with captivating theatre to transport you back to the Victorian era of mean old Ebenezer Scrooge and plucky little Tiny Tim.  Performances are between 19th and 23rd November.





1. Captain Phillips Tom Hanks once again stars in a drama on the high seas, although this time there’s no Wilson to keep him company.

Captain Phillips is based on the true events of 2009, which saw a U.S container ship hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia. Adapted from Captain Phillips own book of his terrifying ordeal, there’s no doubt Hanks will do the brave Captain’s story justice on the big screen.


November's Cinema


2. Thor The Dark World at Route 66,  is a date night choice to keep you both happy. Your other half will be satisfied with the comic book inspired action side of things, while you can appreciate the brilliant acting (read hunkiness) of Chris Hemsworth.

See it at Route 66, Salford– Europe’s first drive in cinema experience between 1st and 7th November for an extra special night at the movies.


3. National Theatre Live’s Frankenstein at The Odeon Printworks Catch a National Theatre Live Encore Screening of Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and starring Jonny Lee Miller.

This dramatic tale of a grotesque creature, cast out cruelly into the world by his creator, only to be met with horror, is showing at Odeon Printworks on Monday 18th November.





1. Stereophonics If the husky voice of Kelly Jones does it for you then Christmas just might have come early this year. Welsh rockers Stereophonics will be performing at the Phones 4 U Arena on Thursday 14 November. Grab tickets while you can.


November's music


2. The Magic Numbers, best known for their melodic tunes like Love Is A Game play at the RNCM on Thursday 28th November - an additional date added to their first ever acoustic tour. Ahead of their yet–to-be titled album release early next year, this is a really special chance to see an intimate gig.


3. Albert Hammond Jr Looking ahead to tickets just released, Albert Hammond Jr, one fifth of The Strokes, plays solo at Night and Day Café in the Northern Quarter on Sunday 8th December.

Another chance to catch a brilliant gig in an intimate setting, where you can actually see the stage without standing on your tiptoes / having to watch it via a big screen a million rows back.


Art / Culture


1. Christian Dior Exhibition If you’re already planning your Christmas party wardrobe then look no further than the Gallery of Costume’s stunning exhibition Christian Dior: Designer in Focus for your inspiration (until 12th January 2014).

The Grade 2 listed building, located in Platt Field’s park at the bottom end of Rusholme, holds the most significant collection of costumes in Britain – second only to the V&A in London don’t you know.


Exhibitions November


2. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air Head to Manchester Art Gallery in the city centre for a look at the new exhibition All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, curated by installation artist Jeremy Deller (until19th January 2014).

The exhibition looks at the impact the Industrial Revolution had on British Popular Culture – combining contemporary music, film and photography with a range of 19th century images and objects.


3. The People’s Business – 150 Years of The Cooperative exhibition at the People’s History Museum celebrates the history of a business which began in1863 as the Co-operative Wholesale Society in Greater Manchester.

Discover the surprisingly interesting social history and mission behind a business owned not by shareholders but by over 7 millions of it’s consumers.



Enjoy a busy cultural November!


Lorna x



Photographs: Royal Exchange Theatre, Palace Theatre, The Lowry Theatre, Wikipedia: Captain PhillipsThor the Dark World, Kelly Jones, The Magic Numbers, Albert Hammond Jnr, Christian Dior, All that is solid melts into air: Adrian Street and his father, 1973 (photo: Dennis Hutchinson) ©Dennis Hutchinson 2012. The Co-Operative Group


Other articles by Lorna

Cultural preview – October 2013

Review of Glamorous Amorous – The Ladyboys of Bangkok









Turning into your parents?

You swore you’d never do it!


I swore I’d never say some of the things my parents used to say, but recently I’ve had to pull myself up a couple of times. It seems I’m not the only one. Check out today’s blog from Cat who is battling a slippery slope.


Over to you Cat ……

Cat & Sam


Has anyone noticed how more and more websites have started to talk to you as though they are you’re teenage mates?

“Whoops, something went wrong. We’re working on it!” “Okay, you’ve selected option B”.

And does anyone else find it increasingly irritating?


The pinnacle of my irritation came the other day when Twitter blocked my account after some suspicious activity. All credit to them for doing that, but not for the way they greeted me when I tried to sign in: “We’ve temporarily locked your ability to set passwords. Please chillax for a few, then try again”.

Chillax? How old am I, 15? And for a few what? Minutes? Hours?  Elephants? (as one of my teachers used to say). Incensed, I vented my outrage through – another social networking site. “Twitter”, I ranted on Facebook, “you are a social networking site, not my best mate and I am 42, not 15”.

Then I was sharply pulled up.

Amongst the various amused and sympathetic ‘comments’ that followed, up popped our esteemed 4Manchester Women editor Alison:

“Cat, you sound like someone’s nan!”


Horror of horrors I actually did!


Although, strictly speaking, I’m old enough to be someone’s nan, as soon as I became a parent I vowed to never be an embarrassing uncool one like my own parents had been (or any rate had seemed to be at the time). And this got me thinking about excruciating things that my parents and my friends’ parents had come out with in the 80s….

For the most part, these had been prompted by watching Top of the Pops.  Along with the fairly common “Why can’t they sing and not shout?” and (on Boy George) “Is that a boy or a girl?” a few of my particular favourites are:

Frankie Goes to Hollywood“Oh, not that awful Frankie again – I wish he would go to Hollywood!”

 “The Cure?  Well, they definitely need one!” (thanks to my friend Catherine for that one)

And best of all this joint effort by my Mum and Dad on Feargal Sharkey and his post-Undertones band The Assembly back in 1983:

Dad: He looks like he’s just crawled out of a coffin!”

Feargal: “It’s never happened to me, it’s never happened to me….”

Mum: “I’m not surprised!”

Although, as you can see from the video below, they did rather have a point!




It was worse when you were out somewhere


How did parents know to come out with something embarrassing just when someone you fancied was nearby?

Here’s my Gran at a pub when I was 15 and eyeing up a boy on a nearby fruit machine: “Oooh, Catherine, look at the ducks!”.

My best friend wrote me an epistle from her family holiday in 1984, including the cringeworthy moment where her mum and Auntie were looking at swimsuits and kept saying, “Ooh, that’s a gay bathing costume!”.

Meanwhile, another of my best friends was shoe shopping with her mum and hoping to keep a low profile as one of the school bullies was doing a Saturday job in the shop – but hope was dashed when her mum picked one up and bellowed, “Well, Elisabeth, these are a better class of shoe!”

She must have been the inspiration for the Harry Enfield sketch where Kevin’s aunt embarrasses him in front of his best friend Perry in a shoe shop – “Hurry up Kevin, I’m going to WET MY PANTS!”


Small wonder that we vowed not to turn out like our parents


I don’t know about you though, but I’ve caught myself doing just that on more than one occasion already – and my kids are only 6 and 3!

“I want doesn’t get” isn’t so bad, but not knowing what’s in the Top 10 or how to download said songs even if I did probably is.

My husband then adds his two penn’orth (and does anyone actually say this nowadays?) by remarking that everything in the Top 10 is rubbish R & B anyway so why would we want to? And I listen to Absolute 80s Radio and proclaim that it is much better than anything in the charts nowadays.

Roll on the teenage years. I’m either going to end up as excruciating as my parents were, or force myself to get down with the kids for the sake of my children. Not sure which way I’ll swing, so I think I’ll just chillax for a few and come back to it later.

We’d love to hear what YOUR parents used to say – and what you inadvertently find yourself saying now!


Cat x


Photographs: Frankie Goes to Hollywood Wikipedia










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