Modern music is changing, and Manchester is the epicentre

Will Knights, Reporter

If there is one thing Mancunians do best, it’s music. Most of us can list many Manchester bands with very little difficulty and most could do the same with the venues dotted across the city. From the dark and brooding days of Joy Division’s rich brand of punk and new wave to the light jangling indie pop of the Smiths to the rock ‘n’ roll stars of Oasis, we as a city have a lot to offer. However, following the notoriously messy break up of Oasis and death of Britpop and acid house in the 90’s, the music scene in Manchester seemingly ran out of steam.

The troublesome twosome from Burnage were quickly replaced by the eyewatering cringe of 2000’s boyband mania and post-Britpop indie like Coldplay; a name that sends a shiver down many a spine. The 2010’s did not inspire much hope for guitar lovers either unless you were a fan of Ed Sheeran and his favourite four chords.

Yet an unpredictable international crisis has breathed new life into the heart of the UK’s musical powerhouse – Covid-19. The Pandemic was responsible for some of the most disastrous years of the 21st century bringing the globe to a standstill with an immeasurable human and emotional toll.

Out of the ashes of tragedy however, musicians worldwide have been empowered.

By getting a glimpse of the dismal life we all endured locked down for three years, many have come to the conclusion that the future is far too unpredictable to do anything except the things they love. With a climate catastrophe racing towards us in clear view and potential for further pandemics, we’re all eager to make the most out of the present.

A noticeable atmosphere of apathy toward the polished and glittery pop music blaring out of BBC Radio 2 has led to a surprising yet inspiring resurgence in guitar music and a do-it-yourself ethos plucked from 70’s punks. Dubbed the ‘UK Post-Punk revival’ or more the more divisive ‘Post Brexit New Wave’, this new genre has caused a flood of bands across the country to start quietly building a new cultural phenomenon, post-Covid. The music is characterised by politically charged lyrics about life in Britain half spoken half sung over buzzing guitars and disillusioned youths following these bands across the UK.

One of the key features of this however, is live shows.

Pre-pandemic, most bands in this subculture found themselves playing small venues to a handful of loyal fans but the shared desire to enjoy the present has rocketed these groups into prestigious venues world-wide.

This is where Manchester makes a powerful entry into this vibrant scene.

There is hardly a live act around that will pass on Manchester when mapping out tour dates and rightly so; with such a wealth of venues, history and acts of our own, there is nowhere better with the possible exception of the capital (that is if you enjoy paying £10 for a pint). From the supersized Arena to the student’s union, down the road from Xaverian College, down to the strangest of places like Aatma with its cult-like popularity.

Just this month, Beyoncé brought her stunning Renaissance live show to the UK yet curiously she omitted Manchester to the dismay of many instead favouring Sunderland. Perhaps there was a lucrative

deal from the Stadium of Light that the AO Arena could not offer. Part of the apathy towards pop music is certainly its glossy finish but also the increased corruption of music by obsession with money.

As a result, some of the most dedicated fans in music are not the so called “stans” of big acts like BTS and Taylor Swift who happily empty their bank account and their minds when their favourite artist comes to town but instead the sea of young people whose spiritual connection to music is the driving force behind entire communities. Looking forward, adulthood is going to be more testing for Gen Z than any previous generation and if an album or live show can provide an hour of escape, then it should be preserved at all costs.

Zooming in on Manchester to this very college, music is one of the main staples of student life. Going to live shows in Manchester, you’ll most likely run into Xaverian students in audience. In fact, many have done one better than simply attending gigs by forming and making music in these buildings.

In April, two Xaverian college bands, Youth Archive and Murder Movies, joined forces in a live show at Aatma, resulting in a night that has earnt both groups fame within the community. Playing sets made entirely of original music they demonstrated their skill and energy with a sizeable crowd bouncing off of them all night. Isla Hutchins, the drummer in Murder Movies, says these type of gigs: “allow us to be creative and express ourselves in an encouraging environment.” The support of friends is clearly a crucial aspect of developing musicianship, as well as being able to provide a good night to people you love.

Their influences are clear and represents the eclectic taste of modern musicians but make no mistake, this is no copy. Gone are the days of the same old Arctic Monkeys clone as a new generation begins to take over. The members of each bands all hail from various places within Greater Manchester, Xaverian has become a unifying force bringing together the most unlikely groups from the most unlikely of places. The music made by Xaverian students is an amalgamation of the diversity we see in our community where everyone has their own rich background.

Ruben Alonso, lead singer and guitarist of Youth Archive, told me how: “the freedom of expression that is afforded to everyone combined with shared love of music” is the driving force behind this musical community. At Xaverian, it’s this mindset that’s allowed creatives to flourish over the years.

While only in its infancy, the creative efforts coming out of this college is something not to be ignored. Our parents never fail to mention how much better life was when they were our age but, the creative community of Xaverian is letting go of Hacienda nostalgia and creating something brand new. The future is right in front of us, and the future is being built in Manchester.


In the coming months you can see Xaverian students perform across Manchester:

Wednesday June 7th – Yamakozo at Fitzgerald

Saturday June 10th – Yamakozo at Haus

Saturday June 17th – Murder Movies at Deaf Institute (The Lodge)

Friday June 30th – Xaverian College Soul Band (including various student bands) at Club Academy

Thursday July 6th – Xaverian College Summer Concert at the RNCM

Friday July 7th – Youth Archive/Bedroom Vacation at Retro