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Wigan, England

by Dylan Harris

Wigan isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you mention the UK indie scene but delve into the town and you’ll find it does in fact have a long musical history and currently a healthily blossoming scene. Its musical history dates back to the 1940s with George Formby, the biggest act in the UK at the time. Step forward thirty years and you have the legendary Wigan Casino. The Casino was voted the best club in the world (ahead of New York's Studio 54) by America's Billboard magazine. And quite rightly so. The Casino was one of the first clubs to latch onto the Northern Soul scene in the early 1970s and it attracted sell out crowds every weekend from all over the UK. The 1980s saw the Wigan unleash Kajagoogoo onto the world but they can be forgiven that for the band that was to follow a couple of years later; The Railway Children who signed to Factory Records. The 1990s saw a wealth of indie bands spawn from the town and outlying areas including The Verve, Witness and Starsailor. The live music scene was dead during the 1990s in Wigan but The Verve's homecoming gig in 1998 helped encourage people to start things going again. The Wigan Music Collective set the ball rolling by opening a venue for local bands to play and this was set a notch up in 2003 when Lupine formed and started bringing signed bands into the town. Club wise the town has always been well served by indie clubs. During the 1990s The Pier Nightspot held a weekly indie club that was attended by people from all across the North West, including members of The Verve and Oasis. The indie club of the moment is Lupine’s Northern Lights @ Club Nirvana currently pulling in over 700 people every Friday.


Clubs
 

Northern Lights
Club Nirvana, Clarence Yard, Wigan, WN1 1JU, Fridays
It may be the only indie club in town but its one of the biggest in the North West. It started life at the now sadly defunct Lux Club, moved onto The Waiting Room but then due to massive demand moved to the 760 capacity converted cinema, Club Nirvana. The main room has 3 resident DJs playing a mixture of indie, rock and roll and northern soul. The setlists are completely different every week and a wide selection of old and brand new indie tracks are always played. The upstairs room has a roster of DJs with material differing every week from funk to garage to northern soul to classic indie.
(www.myspace.com/northernlightsclub)

God’s Cop
Club Nirvana, Clarence Yard, Wigan, WN1 1JU
Commercial indie every 2nd and 4th Saturday each month.


Clubs

Club Nirvana
Clarence Yard, Wigan, WN1 1JU
The biggest venue in Wigan, holding almost 800. Currently on the circuit for upcoming bands across the country. A converted cinema, the venue has fantastic vantage points across the venue, on the bottom floors and up on the steeped balcony.
(www.nirvana-wigan.co.uk)

King’s Electric
(upstairs in Club Nirvana) Clarence Yard, Wigan, WN1 1JU
Small 100 capacity newly opened venue, 2nd floor in Nirvana.

The Tavern
Mesnes Street, Wigan
Home of the Wigan Music Collective. Hosts gigs mainly by local bands but frequently bring in outside signed acts. Venue is the top floor of a pub. Very high stage. Capacity of 200.
(www.wiganmusic.com)

Bar Fever
Rowbottom Square, Wigan
A small underground nightclub that often puts on gigs during the week. Many big acts from around the country have played here on their way up the circuit.


Bars

The Tavern
Mesnes Street, Wigan
Venue on the top floor, bar on the main floor and basement. Nice relaxing atmosphere, music varies, tends to be better at night. Jukebox in the basement.

The Tudor House
New Market Street, Wigan
Good selection of ales and wide selection of clientele. From old men at the bar to Goths, rockers, indie kids and students across the pub. Expensive but quality jukebox. Is web based so it can find, download and play and song you could wish for. Nice food as well.

The John Bull Chophouse
Coopers Row, Wigan
Attracts an older crowd, a lot of bikers. A nice friendly atmosphere with great jukebox and pool tables upstairs.


Local Bands

A lot of stuff happening at the moment with two recently signed bands;The Suzukis (Deltasonic) and Dirty Circus (Sony). There’s also Moco whose 2nd album is due out soon on Poolside Records. Up and coming bands to look out for are Filthy Romance, The Layne, The V.Cs and Corinthians.


Miscellaneous

Lupine
Local promoters (www.myspace.com/lupinewigan) who put on gigs and club nights and are presently setting up a record label.


Main Wigan photo © www.simplywigan.co.uk
Tavern and John Bull Chophouse photos © www.wiganworld.co.uk

If you'd like to recommend a club, bar, record shop, band or any indie delight for inclusion in the Indie Travel Guide, please email us. If we've included a link to your band/shop etc, it would be lovely if you could link back to us. Thank you!

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