Hushing up the Northern Music Scene

  • The Night and Day Cafe  was served a Noise Abatement Notice (NAN) by Manchester City Council in 2021 after a neighbour who moved in during the quiet of COVID-19 lockdown complained
  • The Cafe decided to take the council to Manchester’s Magistrate Court on November 30th, to appeal against the NAN. The third and final date of the hearing has been postponed. 
  • Night and Day has received mass nationwide support with the change.org petition to support them already reaching 97,000 signatures.

The Night and Day Cafe, the lauded Oldham Street music venue, was served a Noise Abatement Notice (NAN) by the Manchester City Council in 2021 after a neighbour who moved in during the quiet of COVID-19 lockdown complained. Jennifer Smithson, the owner of the cafe, stated the NAN would be enough to finish the venue off, along with 30 years of history. The Cafe decided to take the council to Manchester’s Magistrate Court on November 30th, to appeal against the NAN, claiming the council should take responsibility for allowing neighbouring warehouses to be turned into flats in 2000 without the proper soundproofing. The bar said the “third and final date” of the hearing had been postponed.

The Night and Day Cafe. Image: Callum Pickup

The Night and Day Cafe, like many other grass root music venues in the UK, have suffered tremendously over the past few months with rising energy bills and the cost of living crisis. 

A recent report named ‘The Future of Live’ showed that 46% of its respondents did not attend a live music event this year, and for Night and Day, the NAN only added to their troubles.  Reece Ritchie, In-house promoter at Night and Day, said: ” Absolutely no one from the council has made an effort to help keep the Manchester Music scene alive and to look into these issues.  The NAN is like, here is another two feet of water, paddle harder!”

Reece Ritchie, In-house promoter at Night and Day. Photo: Callum Pickup

The council has issued a statement claiming the NAN will only affect DJ sets after midnight, yet it’s during the after-hours (especially on the weekends) when the venue does most of its trading, allowing them to support artists during the week. Although Night and Day have made compromises over the years, such as putting in a porch limiting capacity, according to Reece, there are only so many compromises that a music venue can make before it crashes and burns. “The problem is the council has laid the full responsibility on our doorstep when they should have taken it upon themselves to ensure the approved housing had proper planning and soundproofing.” 

Night and Day first opened in Manchester in 1991 by a Dutch music fanatic named Jan Oldenburg, and the cafe went on to host early shows for bands such as Artic Monkeys, Elbow and Manic Street Preachers, to name a few.  I asked Ritchie how important he felt grassroots music venues were to aspiring artists. “We bring up bands like Artic Monkeys and Elbow, not because we think they’re more important than our local acts, but them as bands only got noticed and became successful because they had the opportunity to play in places like Night and Day.” 

Elbows lead singer Guy Garvey, recently gave his support by crediting the cafe for playing a huge role in forming the now iconic Northern Quarter and calling it the beating heart of the city’s creative scene. There’s no doubt that the Manchester music scene plays a significant part in the culture and feel of the city, and the quirky music bars and cafes that line the streets of the Northern Quarter, are a lure for new students and workers alike. The council’s vision is to be in the top flight of world-class cities by 2025. The question is, are they overlooking live music venues and the Manchester Music scene that attracts so many, possibly leading to a higher-skilled workforce and a stronger economy? 

Night and Day has received mass nationwide support with the change.org petition to support them already reaching 97,000 signatures. The venue urges people to keep supporting them and to get the word out online, with the hopes of it helping them reach a favourable outcome.

Night and Day’s Remove Our Noise Abatement Notice petition. Photo from: Change.org

Although the MCC has claimed to have made no threats to close the premises, the NAN will affect the cafe’s ability to trade during its busiest hours and will also give the council the authority to take any essential equipment from the cafe at any time. If these incursions prove to be Night and Days’ downfall, this would be a great loss for a city that prides itself on being the musical heart of the UK. 

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