Manchester's Free Trade Hall was the most important popular music venue in Great Britain. After several incarnations, the cutrent building was constructed in the wake of the Manchester Blitz and opened in 1951 as the new home of the city's esteemed Hallc Orchestra. Yet it was popular music which would sccurc the venue its fame as it responded to each wave of popular music from trad jazz and skiffle, through rock 'n' roll and folk to prog, punk and heavy metal. From Billie Holiday to Blondie, Duke Ellington to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd to Happy Mondays. Rolling Stones to The Beach Boys, David Bowie to The Smiths and Suede, just about everyone who mattered played there. The Free Trade Hall was also the venue for incendiary gigs by Bob Dylan and the Sex Pistols which changed the course of music history.

Richatd Lysons' 'meticulously researched tomc' will be of interest of anyonc who ever attcndcd a conceit at the venue or has an interest in the history of popular music in Britain's most musically important city.

Alongside his own expert commentary on every headline act he gives the reader a sense of what was going on at other venues in Manchester. There are photographs of several seminal blues gigs by Brian Smith who attended concerts at the Free Trade Hall throughout the 1960's.


RICHARD LYSONS attended his first Free Trade Hall concert in 1972.. After a career teaching English, he is now a music researcher and writer. He was chief researcher tor the highly acclaimed Discover Amazing Women by Rail project.

'Were You There?' is his first book.

Reactions to Were you there?

"An absolutely incredible book; a lovely read. If you are into music and music history, you're gonna need this book on the shelves of your bookcase."

Mike Sweeney- presenter, BBC Radio Manchester

"A fascinating factual account . . ...Told with wit and great warmth throughout." (4 stars out of 5.)

Shindig magazine

"It is an indispensable catalogue, a valuable commentary and a nostalgic reminiscence. .. Were You There ? is a quality production. It is a strong, well bound hardback, with an artistically sound jacket.

The print is a decent size, clear and readable. The book is easy and convenient to use. Priced at only E20.00, it is excellent value for money...The entire volume is a vital addition to musical history, both locally to Manchester and in the wider world. It is an essential work of reference which has been written to scholarly standards but does not lose the common touch."

John France — Music Web International

"This handsome hardback, a very good value €20 with a series of evocative photographs to boot, is actually a highly commendable addition to the literature on an urban scene that has punched above its weight for some considerable time."

Dr Simon Warner — Visiting Research Fellow, University of Leeds

"What a brilliant book; Richard's worthy tome has turned out to be."

Heath Common —journalist, broadcaster, songwriter, musician, poet

"There is much to commend in Richard Lysons' account of Manchester's Free Trade Hall as the details of the main performers and their supporting acts are immaculately presented and it is a treasure trove of information."

Spencer Leigh - BBC Radio Merseyside presenter and writer

Comments powered by CComment