As well as a weird desire to drink 12.5% sours at IndyMan, I was also in Manchester to see the Amber Arcades gig at Deaf Institute.

Those of you who pay attention will remember I bought the new LP by Utrecht’s foremost war crimes legal assistant/weird popster in Sheffield last week.

Amber Arcades - European Heartbreak
Essential listening

The Deaf Institute is one of those small venues that make Manchester such a compelling draw for the gig-goer interested in more than Old Bands.

I’ve marked it for you, just below the Mancunian Way in the heart of Studentland (aka Chorlton-on-Medlock).

Key Manchester tourist attractions shown


With half an hour to the support act, I find I’ve just missed the Camden Town free beer wagon, so I look at the nearby options.
Footage has a bouncer and an “It’s A Scream” heritage to go with the marvellous tiling,

What delights await inside

but WhatPub reckons “The whole thing is focused on getting young people in to enjoy themselves” which isn’t why I go to the pub.

So it’s a rather predictable return visit to Sandbar, the pizza café-cum-craft beer GBG regular.

I rather like this place, always have, despite inherent un-pubbiness and a level of echo that Old Folk like me struggle with a bit compared to students.

A bit quirky
Science folk

It’s very much the Manc equivalent of the Haymakers in Cambridge, all dark wood and Computer Science students clustered round big tables eating vegan pizza.

Sometimes, though, all you want is a nice doughy pizza (£7) and a pint of something you recognise. And an ancient bench seat to balance your pint.

Actual seat
We Want Plates
Heywood’s finest

Both the Phoenix, and a frankly unnecessary Beartown stout, were plenty good enough (NBSS 3), albeit without the turnover to present them at their cool best. Only people buying beer from an appropriate range will save cask now.

For the record, the staff were tremendous. They recommended the Squawk keg.

So were Amber Arcades, playing to about 100 in one of the tiniest venues I’ve ever been to.

Just the stairs you want after a few quick pints

2018. The best year for music. Ever. The worst year for cask.



  1. Isn’t – I’m off to see a band at the Deaf Institute – a bit of an oxymoron?

    Did you get them to have look at your hearing aid while you were there to stop that echo you’re struggling with?

    Read my post on Orso Bruno in Pisa – they installed sound baffles to make their rattly room more OAP friendly.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Making pubs out off ex-retail units is a problem, they are rattly and echoey. Similarly the trend to bare floors contributes, although you can’t help thinking that the late Victorian and Edwardian pubs would have originally had terrazzo flooring which would have made them very echoey. Maybe people spoke in quieter tones back then? I think not. A lot of people have been used to carpeted rooms which deaden the sound.


      2. Oh well, it’s a busy, vibrant pub. You’d like it, decent craft and imported lagers. It’s just I was scoring cask there at NBSS 4+ and now its a 3, all about turnover.


      3. It only takes one screecher or bellower, and then everyone else has to shout too to be heard. Why do some people speak like this, when there is no competing noise at the outset though?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. We actually don’t run into it on our visits to England, but we don’t visit many places that are new. I’m guessing if we did more random selection we would run into it. Over here it is really bad. Places are designed to encourage the volume. We’re all on our phones or watching huge TVs anyway. Why talk to people? You might learn something.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. “they are rattly and echoey”
        But Tim has carpets, in designs more assorted than his beers, throughout so that his venues are NOT rattly and echoey – although they might still be ratty !

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, don’t get me wrong. It was perfectly drinkable, just lacking that cool freshness you get in the best Manc pubs. Perhaps I judge beer by the standards of the best Manchester pubs too much.


  2. “Essential listening”

    From the photo I’d put good money on one of those five heading for a selfie related injury. 😉

    “The Deaf Institute is one of those small venues that make Manchester such a compelling draw for the gig-goer interested in more than Old Bands.”

    As I read ‘Deaf Institute’ I thought the gigs were held next door so as to inconvenience fewer folk. 🙂

    “Science folk”

    Well, the two on the left are definitely staring off into ‘space’. 🙂

    “Just the stairs you want after a few quick pints”

    At least you’re going up, not down.

    “2018. The best year for music. Ever. The worst year for cask.”

    Whatever goes up, something else goes down? (science!)


    Liked by 1 person

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