Manchester's Free Trade Hall was the most important popular music venue in Great Britain. After several incarnations, the current building was constructed in the wake of the Manchester Blitz and opened in 1951 as the new home of the city's esteemed Halle Orchestra. Yet it was popular music which would secure the venue its fame as it responded to each wave of popular music from trad jazz and skiffle, through rock 'n' roll and folk to prog, punk and heavy metal. From Billie Holiday to Blondie, Duke Ellington to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd to Happy Mondays, Rolling Stones to The Beach Boys, David Bowie to The Smiths and Suede, just about everyone who mattered played there. The Free Trade Hall was also the venue for incendiary gigs by Bob Dylan and the Sex Pistols which changed the course of music history.
Richard Lysons’ ‘meticulously researched tome’ will be of interest of anyone who ever attended a concert at the venue or has an interest in the history of popular music in Britain’s most musically important city. Alongside his own expert commentary on every headline act he gives the reader a sense of what was going on at other venues in Manchester. There are photographs of several seminal blues gigs by Brian Smith who attended concerts at the Free Trade Hall throughout the 1960’s.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RICHARD LYSONS attended his first Free Trade Hall concert in 1972.. After a career teaching English, he is now a music researcher and writer. He was chief researcher for the highly acclaimed Discover Amazing Women by Rail project. ‘Were You There?’ is his first book.