Manchester Music vs Norwich Music

Coming to the end of my first year at music uni has made me look back over the year and think about all the differences between my home city of Norwich and now my second home of Manchester. Of course there are cultural, historical and dialect differences but seeing as this is a music blog, I am going to focus and compare the Manchester music scene to the Norwich music scene.

As I said previously in my blog ‘Music in Manchester’, there are very obvious differences you notice when coming to Manchester, such as the whole cities obsession with Oasis, The Smiths and The Stone Roses. Nearly everyone here loves either one or all of these bands and honestly it’s pretty weird to experience!
Norwich doesn’t have a defining band like Oasis, it’s mainly filled with people who like all different kinds of music. That’s one thing I love about music in Norwich; you don’t feel pressured to like one particular genre/artist/band. All different kinds of bands come to Norwich, but the city isn’t really defined by one particular band or genre.

For example, from going to a music college and being friends with mainly metal-heads, I experienced that Norwich had a thriving underground heavy metal scene. Pubs like the B2 and Brickmakers and the Owl Sanctuary regularly put on gigs for local metal bands, in order to give aspiring musicians of metal- a genre which has lost some of its’ popularity in recent years- the promotion and foot on the ladder that they need.
Of course, Norwich doesn’t have nearly as many venues as Manchester and lacks a big venue like MEN Arena, the Etihad Stadium or Victoria Warehouse. The biggest venue Norwich has is the UEA, with a capacity of only 1500. So, this means that more well known bands and artists are less likely to tour to little ol’ Naar’ich. When I was younger I had to travel to Nottingham to see bands, such as My Chemical Romance, Thirty Seconds To Mars and Blink 182. Now, living in Manchester, I only need to walk to the other side of the city or down the road to see bands like these. In December, I’m lucky enough to be seeing Marilyn Manson. An artist whose music I don’t primarily listen to as much as I used to, but one who I would never pass up the opportunity to see.

Norwich also has other genres intertwined within it, such as drum and bass, folk/acoustic acts and mainstream rock. The UEA and Waterfront are venues which both regularly hold club nights that play everything from R ‘n’ B to pop punk, from underground dance to nostalgic ’emo’. However, whilst Norwich has all this going on, it unfortunately fails to stand out as a musical city. The UEA doesn’t even run a music degree.

Now, compare this to Manchester, and whilst it has the huge stereotype of being an indie music central, it is looked upon as a musically rich city. Bands actually come here, their tour manager is able to look at the city and conclude that people will attend the concert, and ALL KINDS of musicians come here because of the range of venues. Manchester Academy- just down Oxford Road- has 3 venues within it. There are 2 O2 sites (Apollo and Ritz), smaller venues for lesser known artists or uni bands such as Gorilla, Band On The Wall and Sound Control as well as the larger venues I mentioned earlier. Musicians from all over the world come and play in Manchester.

However, I do feel that some aspiring musicians/bands who come out of the uni’s and colleges here, do fall into the stereotypical indie-wannabe Arctic Monkey’s/Oasis/The Smiths, which isn’t a good sign for the cities new music scene. Manchester is a vibrant, varied city and shouldn’t be stuck on repeat, churning out indie band after indie band. What I’ve noticed whilst living here, and of course experiencing Manchester’s music scene, is that there needs to be different genres that are prevalent in Manchester. I feel that the city could really experience its dance/EDM scene more, rather than just confining it to Victoria Warehouse. It would be nice to regularly attend raves that you don’t have to fork out £40/£50 for!
Event organisers would be surprised by how many people would attend dance nights, and how many DJ’s and Producers they would be able to hire. The uni I attend has a Music Production course but currently, it’s difficult for them to spread their name further than Soundcloud, due to the lack of dance venues Manchester has. I can say definitely that having EDM venues would make this city even more attractive than it already is and would help shift the indie stereotype it’s becoming stuck with.

So that’s my comparison between Norwich and Manchester’s music scenes. Both have their faults, but I love them equally. I think if they merged together though then they would have the right balance. It’s strange to experience a city which has a strong music scene, it’s just getting used to a genre which I don’t listen to, but coming to Manchester meant I met my boyfriend, who introduced me to the amazing world of dance music and expanded my music tastes even further, which I am very grateful for.

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Live Review: All Time Low @ UEA LCR, Norwich (30/3/17)

Being 5ft 4 and quite tiny in general, having a 6ft steroid loaded body guard standing right in front of you isn’t ideal. I can see one member of the band so…this review is going to be interesting.

The UEA is packed out tonight. It’s been a number of years since Baltimore band, All Time Low graced this ‘fine city’ with their presence, and 14 year old me thought they never would. 19 year old me has mixed feelings about seeing them now, as I haven’t listened to their past two albums properly and- having hauled myself out of my emo phase a few years ago- I feel very out of place wearing a Kanye West shirt.
Thankfully I’m by the sound-desk and not in the mosh pit getting a cocktail of other people’s sweat on me.

Support band SWMRS are…interesting to say the least. They look like they should still be in high school, a band just jamming away in their parents’ basement. Probably mostly famous for having Billie Joe Armstrong’s son on drums, they have a very grungy, laid-back, don’t care, slurred vocals, desperately-trying-to-be-punk sound. It almost works but it feels quite pretentious. They come across very overly confident, already used to being on the stage and being center of attention, even having the balls to write a song about…Miley Cyrus? According to SWMRS she’s a ‘punk rock queen’. Who knew.

SWMRS finish and the anticipation builds. Cue blackout and enter All Time Low. OH WOW THAT’S A LOT OF STROBE LIGHTING.
It’s a little surreal seeing a band that, 5 years ago I accepted I may never see live. It’s almost a euphoric atmosphere when they play ‘Weightless’, one of their most well known and loved songs. Everyone is clapping and the room comes alive with an energy so electric. It’s with this song that everyone is brought together. We sound amazing according to front-man Alex Gaskarth.
‘Somewhere In Neverland’, from the album Don’t Panic, see’s heaps of passion come through, with the entirety of the pit jumping up and down in unison.
Their sound is as clean as on the records, none of this half-arsed singing you get with some bands live who think they’re ‘all that’. All Time Low are down to earth, nice guys- despite being how well known they are- and they take the time to thank the crowd, seeming genuinely in awe at the energy the crowd has and how many people are here.
Ah Jack Barakat already has 2 bras dangling off his mic stand, classy as ever Norwich.
Beach balls are suddenly flying everywhere and even the disco balls were brought out. Combined with the intense lighting set-up All Time Low have, it feels like one big fucking party.
‘Everywhere we look we see people, it’s kind of cool’, says Jack.
Their new song, ‘Dirty Laundry’, has very different sound to the usual pop-punk All Time Low are known for. It’s ambient and fresh and just when you think it’s going to stay relaxed, they hit you with all instruments and volume for the last chorus. Is this a new era of All Time Low we’re seeing?
As soon as Alex brings out his acoustic guitar up start the chants of ‘Wonderwall’. A song which- after hearing every time you go to the pub in Manchester- you’d rather pass on.
The banter that Alex and Jack have is very reminiscent of early Blink 182, minus the continuous dick jokes.
All Time Low blast out more flawless hits such as Love Like War and Backseat Serenade, and my throat is now very dry from singing. This is a brilliant gig, I may not be heavily into All Time Low anymore but honestly, I’m still having an awesome time. They know how to put on a good show and not let the quality of their sound slip up.
Encore: Lost In Stereo and Dear Maria, Count Me in
If you are standing still during this then you are a very boring person. You couldn’t have chosen better songs to end the show with. Everyone is going to leave in high spirits and on a serious serotonin kick. Well done All Time Low, that was fucking incredible.