The gigs we’re most looking forward to in 2023

With a myriad of venues opening their doors in 2022, it’s a given that we’re already buzzing about next year’s gig calendar.

By Emma Davidson | 17 January 2023

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2022 saw the return of jam-packed, sweat drenched gigs. The ones where hugging strangers wasn’t just allowed, it was welcomed, and bands were beaming to finally be allowed back on the road again. 

With COVID-19 and (un)socially distanced gigs a thing of the past, 2023 is looking to be an absolutely mega year for Manchester to welcome bands and artists to its humble meeting spaces and drinking establishments. 

Elton John, Chrissie Hynde and Kerri Chandler are just a handful of the icons passing through our doors this year, and many venues are opening their doors for an even bigger line-up of local legends.

2023 is a chance to support your local venue and the artists passing through its doors. If the past couple of years haven’t taught you that, I’m not sure what will. 

Scroll down for our extensive list of gigs we’re most looking forward to in Manchester in 2023.

Image: Jeru The Damaja via Instagram

Jeru The Damaja at The Blues Kitchen

Thursday 12th January
East Coast hip-hop royalty touches down in Manchester this year. Jeru The Damaja first introduced his unique approach to the genre back in the early 90s, and has since become a figurehead and straight talking critique of the genre. Hits include ‘Come Clean’ from his legendary album, The Sun Rises in the East.

Image: Black Flag via Instagram

Black Flag at The Ritz

Friday 27th January
Pioneers of the punk and hardcore movement, Black Flag are still rising above, albeit almost 50 years later. Complete with a line-up rejig that no longer includes godfather Henry Rollins, the band are back in Manchester to smash through their back catalogue of pogoing hits.

Image: Lee Fields via Instagram

Lee Fields & The Expressions at Gorilla

Saturday 28th January
Lee Fields, also known as ‘Little JB’ for his vocal resemblance to James Brown, is a true soul singer in an age where new trends quite often overtake. His prolific five-decades-plus career spans more than twenty albums and over forty singles, a supreme, still-evolving body of work which continues to garner attention via samples by heavyweight artists including J. Cole, Travis Scott, Rick Ross, and A$AP Rocky.

Image: Balogvikk via Instagram

Temples at YES

Thursday 2nd February
Modern-day psychedelia wrapped up in its own silk scarf, Temples are the epitome of 60s youth culture. With whirring guitars and jam-packed pedal boards, the band take listeners on an epic trip through nostalgic tracks that are defining a new platform booted generation.

Image: The Warehouse Project via Instagram

Hot Chip at The Warehouse Project

Friday 3rd February
To celebrate 2022’s ‘Freakout/Release’ Hot Chip are back armed with a few friends for a massive show at Mayfield Depot. Joined by Todd Terje, Sofia Kourtesis, Yuné Pinku, Mona Yim and Tarzsa the band are finally making their eagerly awaited, post COVID return to Manchester.

Image: The Pretenders via Instagram

The Pretenders at The Deaf Institute

Sunday 5th February
There’s no denying that Chrissie Hynde is one of the most influential female figures in punk, with a career that began at the helm of the safety pinned revolution. Still touring with her original band, The Pretenders, there’s nothing quite like hearing hits such as ‘Back in the Chain Gang’ and ‘Brass in Pocket’ live.

Image: Kerri Chandler via Instagram

Kerri Chandler at New Century

Friday 10th February
A visionary of house and one of the earliest pioneers of the 90s acid sound, Kerri Chandler extends his arm back to Manchester once again for a party at New Century. His selection are never anything but melodic, drenched in distinctive, glistening piano that’s always met with unstoppable energy from the crowd.

Image: Caroline Polacheck via Instagram

Caroline Polacheck at Albert Hall

Wednesday 15th February
Two years after taking the pop music world by storm with Pang – her dazzling head-trip of an album – Caroline Polachek has now returned with the infectious single Bunny Is A Rider. Complete with her romantically captivating vocals, 2023 is set to be another big year for this pop icon.

Image: The Murder Capital via Instagram

The Murder Capital at Albert Hall

Thursday 16th February
Angsty Irish boot stomping post-punk, that’s The Murder Capital pretty much summed up. Hailing from Dublin, the band’s second album ‘Gigi’s Recovery’ is set to be released at the end of January, so expect their show at the Albert Hall to be an ode to tracks old and new.

Image: Meekz via Instagram

Meekz at Manchester Academy

Tuesday 21st February
Gorton born Meekz is an unstoppable force on the British rap scene. Punchy flows and stripped back production are undoubtedly his trademark, gathering a flurry of dedicated fans that have already sold out his 2023 hometown shows. Keep an eye out for resales on Twickets, as this isn’t one to miss. 

Image: Ezra Collective via Instagram

Ezra Collective at Albert Hall

Thursday 23rd February
Part of a wider European run, the contemporary jazz/pop collective will be stopping in Bristol, Glasgow, and Manchester, before an unmissable hometown finale at Brixton Academy. A thumping celebration of life, Ezra Collective’s new album is an affirming elevation in the band’s hybrid sound. 

Image: Dry Cleaning via Instagram

Dry Cleaning at Albert Hall

Friday 24th February
Dry Cleaning’s bold and expansive back catalogue of work is loaded with melodic hooks and satirically relatable humour, something that’s given the band an entirely unique stamp on the ‘post-punk’ genre. Newest album Stumpwork is explorative and optimistic, something much needed going into 2023. 

Image: Self Esteem via Instagram

Self Esteem at Albert Hall

Wednesday 1st March
Rebecca Lucy Taylor, the epitome of female confidence, is complete with honest portrayals of womanhood through her ‘Self Esteem’ pseudonym. One of the most talented and important artists around at the moment, her live show brings together a multitude of women for an evening dedicated to every unfiltered part of themselves. 

Image: Shy FX via Instagram

Shy FX at Manchester Academy

Saturday 11th March
Hosted by Stamina MC, Shy FX is joined by Mungo’s HiFi DJ set featuring Gardna and DRS: In Session. A veteran of UK jungle and drum and bass, his career has scored him various chart-topping hits whilst also maintaining underground credibility. 

Image: Jay Rayner via Instagram

Jay Rayner Sextet at Albert Hall

Thursday 16th March
Restaurant critic Jay Rayner leads an ensemble of top flight musicians through a vivid night of the very best of song-writing and jazz. Expect blistering performances of iconic tunes from jazz greats like Herbie Hancock, Horace Silver and Dexter Gordon, through to song-writing legends including Tom Waits and Joan Armatrading. 

Image: Corella via Instagram

Corella at Gorilla

Saturday 18th March
Corella are a sublime indie-pop four piece and currently being tipped as the next big thing to come out of Manchester. Check them out in an intimate surrounding at Gorilla next year before they blow-up!

Image: Franc Moody via Instagram

Franc Moody at New Century

Tuesday 21st March
Soul, funk and disco from the cosmos, Franc Moody are a band with no boundaries when it comes to partying. Taking over newly refurbished New Century, complete with its very own disco ceiling, the band will explore space age melodies with modern-day electronica.

Image: Peven Everett via Instagram

Peven Everett at The Blues Kitchen

Thursday 23rd March
Collaborating with the likes of Gorillaz, Peven Everett’s sweet-spot soulful voice has shaped part of the electronic world with timeless productions positioned at the forefront of dance culture. The legend of house, garage, RnB and beyond will land in Manchester this year for a very exclusive performance.

Image: Alix Perez via Instagram

Alix Perez at Hidden

Saturday 25th March
A HUGE line-up of local Manchester legends, Alix Perez’ Hidden shindig is taking over two floors of Hidden this year, featuring a two-house set from Alix himself, alongside SP:MC, Visages x Strategy, Kyrist b2b Bredren x T-Man, Dogger b2b Mindstate x Truthos, Mufasa, Cesco x Sparks, Submarine’s Manchester Debut, Drone and Gnasha.

Image: Kamaal Williams via Instagram

Kamaal Williams at Canvas

Saturday 25th March
A pioneer of modern day jazz, Kamaal Williams is a record producer and musician that rose to fame in 2016 as one half of jazz group Yussef Kamaal. Since, the artist has released music distinctively in his own rhythm that explores jazz, house and techno juxtaposed with elusive, spiritual sounds.

Image: Channel Tres via Instagram

Channel Tres at Gorilla

Tuesday 28th March
Channel Tres blends the drive of Detroit techno and the silky-smooth grooves of Chicago house with the snarl of West Coast rap. His music is no longer the little secret that dance DJs maybehad wished it would stay. With artists like Drake and Beyonce swiftly incorporating elements of dance music into their catalogues, he’s been touted as the impetus for house music’s resurgence in pop music by outlets like HIGHSNOBIETY. 

Image: Orbital via Instagram

Orbital at Albert Hall

Thursday 30th March
Pioneering electronic music duo Orbital have announced an extensive UK & Eire tour to follow the release of their new studio album Optical Delusion, out February 17, 2023, via London Records. With Optical Delusion, their tenth studio album, Orbital dig deeper into the unquiet psyche of our increasingly surreal and disordered world. 

Fair Play Festival 2023

Saturday 1st April
Unequivocally ‘doing what it says on the tin’, FAIR PLAY festival serves as a communal, collaborative event, featuring a diverse lineup that’s fair and accessible, welcoming musicians that are dubbed as ‘alternative’ in all its multiple forms. Following the sell-out success of last year’s event, FAIR PLAY is back and bigger than before, having added the iconic long-standing Manchester venue, Night & Day Cafe amongst its roster of event hosts.

Image: Paul Husband Photography via Instagram

A Certain Ratio at New Century

Saturday 22nd April
Flixton formed punks, A Certain Ratio embraced the ethic and culture of the late seventies post-punk explosion, sounding like nothing else around them and refusing to fit in. The band are set to continue in 2023 with the kinds of live performances that have made them a must-see on many festival line-ups.

Image: SFTOC via Instagram

Sounds From The Other City

Sunday 30th April
Sounds From The Other City 2023 is set to recapture the true, sweat drenched, hands-on DIY SFTOC spirit, and will take place throughout the festival’s home of Chapel Street, as the community festival of new music, performance and art returns to the pubs, churches and community corners of Salford.

Image: Manchester Jazz Festival via Instagram

Manchester Jazz Festival 2023

Friday 19th – Sunday 28th May
Back to celebrate jazz musicians from Manchester and beyond, the Manchester Jazz Festival 2023 will take place from 19th – 28th May with a huge lineup of performers. Established back in 1996 with a programme of just nine bands, a DJ, off stage activities and some beer sampling, it has now grown into a celebration of jazz talent where audiences can get truly lost in the music. 

Image: Rakim via Instagram

Rakim at The Ritz

Thursday 8th June
Celebrating his near four-decade hip hop career, the legendary rapper Rakim, aka William Griffin Jr, formed part of the blueprint for the future of hip hop. Famed for hits such as ‘I Ain’t No Joke’ and ‘Paid In Full’, the Long Island native is known as a lyrical master and was one half of the influential duo, Eric B. and Rakim.

Image: Hans Zimmer via Instagram

Hans Zimmer at AO Arena

Friday 16th June
Starting in April 2023, the world-renowned film composer, Hans Zimmer will return to Europe with his extraordinary band and orchestra for the Hans Zimmer Live – Europe Tour 2023. The newly arranged concert includes music from Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Dark Knight, Interstellar, The Lion King, The Last Samurai and Dune, for which Zimmer received his second Academy Award during his previous tour stop in Amsterdam.

Image: The Black Keys via Instagram

The Black Keys at AO Arena

Thursday 22nd June
This Manchester date marks The Black Keys’ first European tour since 2015, offering fans a rare opportunity to see the band at their finest. Following an acclaimed  32-date North American run earlier this year, the duo will deliver a loud and raw set featuring hits like ‘Howlin’ For You’, ‘Lonely Boy’ and ‘Gold On The Ceiling’, as well as performing songs from their latest album, Dropout Boogie.

Image: Piran Aston

Manchester Psych Fest 2023

Saturday 2nd September
Manchester’s leading psychedelic music and arts festival has announced the first wave of acts for its 10th and biggest edition event to date, with over 60 live acts taking place on 2nd September 2023. With headliners still to be announced, Manchester Psych Fest 2023 will bring hotly-tipped psychedelic cumbia outfit Los Bitchos to Manchester for a Psych Fest debut.