Happy 80th birthday to the Apollo
MANCHESTER’ S Apollo theatre – one of the city’s best-loved institutions – is celebrating 80 years of unforgettable entertainment, including some of the biggest names music.
The Art Deco landmark remains a favourite of concert-goers and musicians alike despite the passing of the years. A in ●● young Johnny Marr used to climb the drainpipes to watch the bands for free and years later confessed there was nowhere he’d rather perform. The venue on Stockport Road in Ard- wick was opened as a cinema and variety theatre by movie actress Margaret Lockwood – in between filming Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes – on August 29, 1938.
The Grade II-listed building survived the Second World War – three Luftwaffe bombs detonated not far away in 1941.
It was taken over by Associated British Cinemas in 1943 but it began to host pop concerts in the 1960s, notably The Beatles, who arrived twelve minutes late for their 1965 gig as their tour bus had been stuck in fog. With a capacity of 3,500 people, it became THE place to watch bands in the 1970s when it hosted rock and pop behemoths like ACDC, Queen, Genesis, Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones.
In 1977, David Bowie played keyboard and sang backing vocals at Iggy Pop’s gig. The Jacksons brought their Destiny tour to The Apollo in 1978 and The Jam introduced some punk for their visits in 1978, 1979 and 1982.
U2 first performed at the venue in 1980 as did The Who, who didn’t disappoint fans expecting to see their habit of smashing guitars on stage. Springsteen brought his River tour to The Apollo in 1981 and the following year Freddie Mercury joined Elton John to perform three duets.
Manchester favourites The Stone Roses performed in 1995 while Prince played two nights in 2002.
The venue was used for a number of scenes for 24 Hour Party People, documenting New Order and Happy Mondays gigs.
It wasn’t just music – in 2002 Peter Kay played the first of 16 shows over the next three years. The Arctic Monkeys filmed their ‘live at The Apollo’ DVD there in 2007 and, two years later, Morrissey celebrated his 50th birthday with two concerts. By 2010 new sponsorship arrived and the venue became the O2 Apollo. And in 2012, Johnny Marr revealed it was his favourite venue. He used to shin up the drainpipes with his mates to sneak in and watch the bands.
Paul Simon performed there – perhaps for the last time – in 2016.
The Stockport Road venue has a capacity of 3,500 concert-goers and it was the biggest venue in Manchester before the Arena opened in 1995.
Clockwise from top left: Peter Hook in 2005, The Apollo, the Rolling Stones fans in 1966, David Coverdale with Whitesnake in 2004, Ian Brown and The Beatles in 1963