Jack Woodward’s guide to gigging in the North West

Singer-songwriter Jack Woodward shares his tips on the best places to gig in Manchester, Liverpool and Wigan.

How did you get your start in gigging?

In the early days I played quite a lot of open mics to find new audiences and meet people in the music scene. One challenge with early gigs is getting people to come along, especially when you’re performing in a new city. That’s why open mics are so great – no pressure to bring people and the musicians you meet there can point you towards the good gigs and opportunities.

One of my first gigs was at The Venue in my local village, Lymm, which is about 30 minutes away from Manchester and Liverpool. I also played my first open mic there when I was 16.

I also played a few of my early gigs at The Whiskey Jar in Manchester, it’s well-known for its open mic night and attracts a high standard of talent. Night & Day in Manchester is another great venue; I still play there regularly now. It has a great sound system and a relaxed vibe.

Since then I’ve gone on to play lots of little acoustic gigs along with bigger shows all over the North West. I’ve also appeared on local radio shows and in video sessions. In the past year I’ve played lots of festivals and support slots at gigs with my backing band in places like Manchester, Salford, Liverpool, Wigan, Bolton, Preston, Warrington, Altrincham, Poynton and Standish.

Earlier this year I performed my own song, Fly Away, to 4,500 people at the Brighton Centre as a guest appearance on the X Factor live tour. That was fantastic.

Venues and nights in the North West that I recommend include:


The Whiskey Jar, open mic on a Tuesday

Night & Day Café

Fallow Café, open mic on a Wednesday

Trof, open mic night on a Wednesday

The Castle Hotel


The Old Courts


The Cavern Pub, open mic and venue


The Venue, open mic on a Tuesday

Fab festivals
  • Trafford Sound Radio show and Goose Green Festival in Altrincham
  • Bolton Unsigned FM Radio Show and Bolton Food and Drink Festival
  • Warrington Live Radio Show and Warrington Music Festival
  • Imagine FM Radio show and associated events and festivals in Stockport
  • BBC Introducing Lancashire and associated events and festivals in Lancashire

Other ways to make connections

I’ve made lots of connections and received lots of good recommendations through studio work. My producers Sugar House were very good at recommending new band members and photographers.

Volunteering for student radio and film projects has also helped me meet people and get gigs and radio plays – and get free filming and photography at my gigs.

How do you get gigs?

I still contact lots of venues and festivals myself, but I’m also fortunate to be asked to play at new festivals and gigs. In my experience, the more that you do, the more that people ask you to do.

Where do you watch gigs?

I love seeing artists at The O2 Apollo in Manchester. I’ve seen many over the years including Imagine Dragons, Newton Faulkner, The Vaccines and most recently Everything Everything. For smaller acts, Night & Day Cafe is a great venue. Gullivers in Manchester is also a great place to catch live music, as is Heebie Geebies in Liverpool.

LISTEN HERE to Woodward’s latest single Look Looking Around. It was written and produced with the production duo Sugar House in St Helens.

Website: jackwoodwardmusic.com

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