Callin' It: The UK Is The Music Capital Of The World
While America may be home to some of the biggest music labels and studios in the world, I would argue the UK is home to the most diverse and historical landmarks in music industry history. Whatever genre or era your preference, Great Britain has it all.
(Hear me out. By the end of the article I promise you’ll agree with me.)
I started my UK music tour in Manchester, the birthplace of bands like Oasis, The Smiths, Simply Red and The Stone Roses and headed straight to the Northern Quarter. The vibrant and eclectic area is centred around music, art and culture.
Think Newtown, Sydney vibes, but on a whole other level.
I meet local DJ and Director of Music for The Warehouse Project Matthew Krysko at Piccadilly Records for an in-depth look at where Manchester’s music scene came from; the Hacienda era of free all-night raves. While the music scene may have shifted, raves remain and TWP put on massive festivals like Parklife with headliners The XX, Liam Gallagher, N.E.R.D and A$AP Rocky.
But the tour isn’t over, Matt takes me on to meet Danny Fahey, founder of creative label Thirty Pound Gentlemen, who is focused on the new era of Manchester’s music scene boasting artists like DJ trio Mvson Collective. To speak with Danny is to hear pure passion and acute knowledge about music. I was hanging on every word.
“Manchester is a very fruitful and fertile town,” he explained. “There’s a lot of originality, a lot of people are looking forward to make a sound, a really soulful sound that’s emerging. A lot of that is to do with people having a community focus, people collaborating and just straight up doing it for themselves.”
I mentioned that of course London holds so much of the UK’s music history, but Danny is quick to stop me.
“Manchester is a second city, let’s not get it twisted,” he said. “Not Birmingham [the second biggest population after London]. As a second city Manchester works harder, it tries harder, it struggles, it doesn’t always have the same priviliges that the capital city has. As creatives you have to problem solve in a really unique and amazing way. And that problem solving makes music, art and creativity spectacular in this city.”
It’s hard to argue with him considering one of Australia’s biggest exports at the moment – Sydney band DMA’s – is heavily influenced by the sounds and grit of Manchester. Local legend Liam Gallagher even credits their latest album as ‘biblical’. As luck would have it the band is currently touring the UK and I stop by their sold out Manchester gig. It is heaving. This town is unlike any other, I thought.
Just an hour away, a different music scene awaits in Liverpool; a city drenched in history and namely synonymous with being the birthplace of The Beatles.
I embark on a Magical Mystery Tour, making stops at Penny Lane – no not about a girl, but a lively area that still holds a bank, barber and bus stop, just like in the song.
But every Beatles fan will not be able to miss a visit to the iconic Cavern Club, where The Beatles made their first appearance on February 9 1961, and went on to make 292 appearances at the club in just over two years.
But of course it’s not ALL about the Beatles; walking along Albert Docks you pass statues of iconic Liverpool artists and just passed the Tate gallery you will find The British Music Experience which holds a curated exhibition of British music from the 40’s to now through costumes, instruments, performances and memorabilia.
Every iconic British artist from Queen’s Freddie Mercury to Dusty Springfield to David Bowie and The Sex Pistols and then on to the Spice Girls, Adele and Coldplay are all commemorated under one roof. A music-lover’s dream.
Moving on to Cardiff in Wales, vistors will come witness once again to this diverse mix of old and new. I make a point of visiting Spillers Records - the World’s oldest running record shop established in 1894 and manage to pick up a limited release Rolling Stones album. I gripped it tightly side-eying other shoppers.
In the evening, there are endless clubs full of locals every day of the week - take your pick dancing to hip hop, rock and pop.
But when you talking about British music, you can't forget London.
“Where Liverpool was the home of the Beatles, London was where they became stars,” my London Rock Tour guide told me.
Taking me past iconic music landmarks; I passed Adele’s recording studio where she, Ed Sheeran and The XX have all recorded albums.
I saw the home where Jimi Henidrix tragically passed away.
Next the residence where the Sex Pistols were formed and one of the iconic locations Led Zepplin recorded in Chelsea.
I visited the gates of Paul McCartney’s home. (He wasn't in, would've loved a cuppa.)
And of course, I had to visit Abbey Road Studios and the iconic crossing immortalised on the album cover of the same name.
What better way to finish a spectacular trip around the UK than visiting the iconic crossing where @thebeatles shot their Abbey Road album art - how did we do!? 😂 From Manchester to Liverpool, on to Cardiff and Bristol before finishing our adventure in London, @lovegreatbritain is an understatement ❤️🇬🇧 Be back very soon @contiki
So do you believe me now? The UK truly is the world's epicentre of music.
Want to experience the best the UK has to offer for yourself? Contiki and MTV have teamed up with VisitBritain to bring you the ultimate UK hit list. From must-see destinations, can’t-miss experiences and give-me-another foodie experiences, find YOUR Great Britain here.
PICS: MTV Travel Editor Takes The UK