Music and nightlife are part of Manchester’s DNA: our city has produced some of the world’s best-known acts; boasts internationally renowned gig venues and festivals; and has an incredibly diverse population, so there’s always something new to explore.
With that in mind, we asked our current students, staff and alumni to tell us what song reminded them of their time at Manchester, and why. You can listen to the full playlist on Spotify here or below.
Station Approach by Elbow
“This wonderful song is about immediately feeling at home when getting off the train at Manchester Piccadilly and is named after the approach road to the station. The video shows the band viewing iconic pubs of Manchester, like Peveril of the Peak and City Road Inn from the train window.
“It was released when I was still full of excitement every time I arrived in Manchester from Preston and was spending a lot of time here for gigs, and then I moved here as I knew it was where I wanted to live. The line ‘coming home I feel like I designed these buildings I walk by’ is poetic genius from Guy Garvey, and I still think of it today when I return to the city after spending time away!”
Joe, Media Relations Officer (staff)
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths
“If I had to give the most obvious explanation for this song choice, I would say that nothing screams Manchester more than The Smiths. During my first year of uni, I remember walking back home from a lecture in the rain. This song had come on and that moment just felt so surreal, almost like a scene from a movie. There was something about its upbeat tempo which went hand in hand with the joy I felt from going home after a long day at uni, contrasted with the song’s melancholic lyrics which encapsulated the cold weather.
“It’s the perfect song to scream at the top of your lungs, in the city where ‘there’s music, and there’s people, and they’re young and alive’”.
Celine, current Law student
Rasputin by Boney M
“This song just really reminds me of all my friends playing Just Dance – something that we really connected over at the start of our first year of uni.”
Francesca, current Russian and Spanish student
The City by The 1975
“I saw The 1975 in the first year I moved to Manchester and their album became my soundtrack to the city. A local band singing about this wonderous city, how could I not recommend this?”
Julie, Programme Administrator (staff)
Sunflower by Vampire Weekend
“This song reminds me of spring and summer mornings when I would go for a 6am swim at the Aquatics Centre on campus. Campus is so pretty when the sun has just come up, and it’s a reminder that the city with the biggest student population in the country can have its quiet, peaceful moments too!”
Victoria, International Programmes Administrator (staff)
Winter Falls by Stray Kids
“The first (and only) snow I experienced in Manchester was on the exact same day this song was released. I always associate songs with memories and places, so every time I listen to this song, even in the middle of summer, it always takes me back to being on campus, walking to Alan Turing Building on the snowy pavement”
Oana, current Japanese Studies student
Montero (Call Be My Your Name) by Lil Nas X
“Manchester’s Gay Village is such a globally iconic place for LGBTQ+ culture, so moving here for uni from a small town really helped me become confident about my sexuality and feel like part of a big community. This song takes me back to Cruz 101 on the 19 July 2021, when after nearly 2 years of lockdowns and covid rules, most restrictions ended, and we could once again come together and dance.”
Gareth, Student Communications Officer (staff) and Politics alumn
Shadowplay by Joy Division
“Joy Division are the best band to have come out of Manchester (by a long way). Shadowplay perfectly captures the combination of intense emotion and mechanical constraint that makes the Joy Division sound. Different people hear different things in songs but I can’t help hearing Manchester in Joy Division. Where else could the opening line of Shadowplay, ‘to the centre of the city’, be referring to?”
Nick, Professor of Sociology (staff)
Not Nineteen Forever by The Courteeners
“This is a classic Manchester song and really reminds me of my first and second years at uni. I wasn’t nineteen forever!”
Joe, History alumn
What Do I Get? by Buzzcocks
“As a teenage punk fan way back when, I’d venture up Oxford Rd and knock on a door at Waterloo Terrace, to see if I could blag badges or posters form the staff working here. The building is part of the University campus these days so evokes happy memories every time I walk past it.
The campus and Buzzcocks have a very firm place in Manchester’s and the UKs music history and this was the north’s response to punk, providing one of the very first independent record releases, from a band that also catalysed the city’s music scene by hosting a gig for the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall. The rest is history, as from this musical ground zero sprang the likes of Factory Records and bands such as Joy Division.”
Jon, Assistant Director of Estates
Elephant Stone by The Stone Roses
“I’m a born and bred Mancunian, and we are justifiably proud of our rich musical heritage. The song that I’d choose that really reminds me of being young and carefree in Manchester is Elephant Stone by the Stone Roses, as it has played on repeat during important times such as exams and writing my dissertation since 1989 when I first saw our much loved Mancunian 4 piece play for the first time.
“It was my first ‘away’ gig, exams were over, and I’d saved wages from my Saturday job for weeks to buy the outfit I wanted: Levi’s 501s, a flowery shirt, a pink cord jacket from Chelsea Girl completed with cherry red Dr Martens, boarding the train in Manchester heading to Blackpool, seeing all the people I’d started to meet in the clubs and bars around the city centre, the buzz of the excitement, the object of my affections in attendance, the beers on the seafront beforehand all played their part.”
Christie, PGT Coordinator (staff) and Education alumn
Pacific State by 808 State
“This Manchester classic sounds as fresh as it did when it was released in 1989. It reminds me of shopping on Oldham Street, The Hacienda, Dry Bar, baggy jeans and lilac coloured nubuck Kicker boots. So much great music being played in Manchester, back then. Every student should take this tune with them after they graduate.”
Adam, AMBS (staff)