Under an old railway arch surrounded by bars, garages and take-aways sits one of Manchester’s finest modern venues and an establishment that has, since opening in 2012, cemented itself as a key fixture on the national gig circuit and popular nightspot for Mancunians.
Originally, the Gorilla site was The Green Room – a 1980s experimental art, theatre and comedy venue that laid dormant for decades following that venue’s closure. In 2012, a major revamp took place on the site and Manchester was gifted a venue that, by popular consensus, is the best recently opened venue in the city, a hugely popular and multi-functional music space.
With 550 capacity, some of which is on a raised balcony directly facing the stage, this mid-tier venue is small enough to be intimate but large enough to be a tour fixture for some of the most exciting emerging and established acts in the UK and internationally. Gorilla might just be the best sounding venue in Manchester, with terrific acoustics and a state-of-the-art sound system, and with its distinctive backdrop of rows of dark lockers, it’s certainly visually arresting.
Rejecting the idea that venues should be gritty and down-to-earth, a visit to Gorilla is an unusually sleek experience. The bar and kitchen downstairs, open to the public regardless of whether they’re attending a concert, is popular as a meeting place due to its chic, wood-panelled interiors and extensive menu of cocktails, wines and meals.
Gorilla is part of a cluster of venues around Whitworth Street, at the city centre end of Oxford Road Corridor – The Bridgewater Hall and the Ritz are both a stones’ throw from Gorilla’s doors. Manchester’s fondness for the venue was put to the test in the summer of 2020 – for a time, it looked as though the venue would have to shut as a consequence of the pandemic. Thankfully, a new buyer was found and the future of the venue – as loved by artists as it is the city’s gig-goers – looks assured. “I think Gorilla is one of the best venues in the country” explained Johnny Marr in 2020, “I’ve recommended it to other musicians, that they should play Gorilla. I tour a lot around the UK, I know a lot of musicians and I tend to like to see bands starting out – and Gorilla is one of the best places. The sound is really great, the size of the venue is perfect.”
As well as one of Manchester’s very best music venues, it’s a cracking bar with a smashing food and drink menu. You’ll find Shindigger IPA and Magic Rock and among the cocktails, there are themed concoctions based on legendary Manchester bands like Joy Division and New Order.
Alongside the artful eats are big breakfasts of both the traditional and forward-thinking variety: big plates of steak frites and grilled cheese sourdough, burgers, tacos and eye-catching desserts. Best of all, this great ape of the Manchester music scene is a friendly creature at heart.
Gorilla is the place to be for the coolest music acts, great food and drink and cracking breakfast too!