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Oxford Road’s Big Hands occupies a role in the city somehow as important as any of its flagship music venues. It’s a meeting place where bands are formed, ideas are hatched and records are played loud.
Located just slightly up the road from Manchester’s Academy venues, Big Hands remains the best place to go for a pre or post-show drink, and – better still – the place you’re most likely to bump into the artist that you’ve just been watching. Big Hands opened in 2001 with a clear sense of purpose to authentically replicate a bustling, downtown NYC dive bar in the heart of Manchester. It succeeded and has been central to the city’s music ecosystem in the two decades since. The bar sits on the long stretch of Oxford Road leading up to the student district of Fallowfield – this tends to give the bar a serious destination feel. Once you’re here, you’re here for the night. Its poster-saturated red walls and candle-lit table all richly evoke the music culture so central to Big Hands’ appeal – at weekends, the bar is open late with retro DJs playing sets of soul, rock’n’roll and psychadelia.
There’s always a busy schedule of music each month, including DJ SexGod who ventures out from Hulme’s Redbricks every Thursday to share his eclectic vinyl collection with us. Expect garage, wonky pop, and international kitsch from the vaults. Check out their Instagram for the latest.
Its slim size is compensated for by its much-loved roof garden – impressively heated in Winter, and one of the city’s single most pleasant drinking spots in the Summer. And what it lacks in size it makes up for in selection – Big Hands will have your favourite beer, your favourite whisky and your soon-to-be favourite of either, with a particular focus on continental lager.
Like The Temple, there is something authentic about Big Hands that many a newer bar in Manchester has repeatedly tried, and more often than not failed to replicate.