These are the most special paragraphs I’ve written for my Spotters’ repertoire. I can scarcely commit this to paper without a deviant grin or craving a dance to some obscure vintage records. Big Hands is an unpolished, bustling, vibrant dive that has been my drinking buddy these last 16 years and is the best bar in Manchester, (big) hands down. Cringe. Sorry.
Looking like a living room in a time warp from the street, Big Hands is almost invisible by daylight. Furthermore, its purgatory location between the city centre and studentville Fallowfield often means planning a diversion to visit. But Big Hands doesn’t care what you think and those who know, know. Countless bands and musicians who’ve played next door at Manchester Academy down the years have popped in for a post-gig drink.
These include the likes of homegrown artists such as Guy Garvey and, legend has it, Frank Black of Pixies. He apparently played an impromptu set on the street outside during a tour with the Catholics in the early noughties.
Big Hands has survived down the years because it does several things well. Great beer, reliably excellent music and vinyl DJ slots, the occasional live band and an uncompromisingly gritty spirit that scrubs up for nobody. Visit if you like, it doesn’t really care – but it will always welcome you with open hands.