Louder Than Words 2021 music writing festival returns to Manchester

Lesley Chow will be talking about her book You're History at Louder Than Words.Lesley Chow will be talking about her book You're History at Louder Than Words.
Lesley Chow will be talking about her book You're History at Louder Than Words.
The Louder Than Words Festival of music and writing grows louder each year - here’s what to expect when it comes to Manchester in November for its ninth year.

After last year’s virtual festival, event co-curators Dr Jill Adam and musician, journalist and broadcaster John Robb say they are delighted to announce they they will be back "in real life" in Manchester, perennial home to the festival.

However, they say, there are two key changes: "Firstly, some of what was learnt about operating online has been carried forward, to give our visitors the choice to either attend in person, or join in online.

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"Secondly, we have moved home. Suitably, the festival will now happen at the Innside Hotel on Tony Wilson Place, and in the shadow of what was Manchester’s Haçienda nightclub."

What’s on at the festival this year?

The festival kicks off on Friday 12 November with a typically eclectic collection of events, from esteemed designer Malcolm Garrett talking all things Buzzcocks with author Lou Shelly and former band member John Maher through to a junglist panel and DJ set or an in-conversation and live set with Chris Jagger.

Saturday sees Daniel Rachel discussing his best-selling Oasis book; Eleanor McAvoy previewing her new film, album and playing live; Kevin Cummins discussing his Joy Division photography and Jordan Mooney talking about life as one of the original punks.

As for musical genres, the varied selection runs from Frank Bellow of Anthrax to John Illsey from Dire Straits via Will Sergeant of Echo and the Bunnyman.

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Chris Jagger is among those appearing at Louder than WordsChris Jagger is among those appearing at Louder than Words
Chris Jagger is among those appearing at Louder than Words | ugc (via yorkshire post)

And Sunday rounds things off in the same spirit, with panels discussing subjects as varied as gender representation in the music industries, the official biography of Shane MacGowan, suedes and skinheads and Ravi Shankar, with renowned authors on all those subjects such as Paul Smiler’ Anderson, the award-winning Daniel Rachel, Richard Balls, Zoe Howe, Lesley Chow, David Hepworth and Helen Reddington. If that wasn’t enough, how about tackling Dylan, Lennon and God? Well Sleeper’s Jon Stewart will attempt to do that... all at the same time, within one panel.

And that is merely to scratch the surface, as elsewhere numerous academics and music writers gather for panels, discussions, Q&As, workshops, and even a music pub quiz.

Richard Balls will be talking about his biography of Shane MacGowan at Louder Than Words.Richard Balls will be talking about his biography of Shane MacGowan at Louder Than Words.
Richard Balls will be talking about his biography of Shane MacGowan at Louder Than Words.

Return to in-person events

As well as hearing their stories, the festival also offers a unique chance to get up close to people often only seen on the stage; in the much more social, conducive atmosphere of Innside.

Dr Adam says: "We have sole use of three adjoining function rooms of the hotel over the weekend, giving visitors the best experience of comfortably moving between rooms. With all three rooms operating throughout the weekend, there is obviously plenty to choose from and we will also have a dedicated bar area, for our pop-up bookshop, signings and, of course, socialising before and after the events.”

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Since its first incarnation in 2013, audience and contributor numbers have more than doubled at Louder, which in turn has only increased the variety of talks, panels and workshops programmed over the weekend.

Over those years the festival has welcomed such musical figures as Rick Buckler (The Jam), Guy Garvey (Elbow), Edwyn Collins, Viv Albertine, Mary Anne Hobbs, Woody Woodmansey (The Spiders From Mars), Wolfgang Flur (Kraftwerk), Brix Smith (The Fall), Tim Burgess (The Charlatans), Miles Hunt (The Wonderstuff), Bob Geldof, Hugh Cornwell (The Stranglers) and Alan McGee (Creation Records).

Attendees come from as far as San Francisco and Moscow to engage in a weekend that includes panels, Q&As hosted by Louder’s John Robb (amongst others) and some very special performances from all four corners of the musical world: from rave to metal; ska to punk.

As well as looking back with most significant music personalities of past decades, Louder Than Words also celebrates future voices, with a continuing focus on the role of education in music and journalism, whether that be the Slam Poetry workshop team; involving students as volunteers and panellists; arranging workshops on everything from writing and getting published, making music, DJ-ing and music law.

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The Wilko Johnson Writing Award will make a welcome return, celebrating young music writers under 25 and there is much to be enjoyed on the festival fringe.

How do I get tickets?

Louder Than Words runs from 12-14 November at Innside Hotel, 1 First Street, Manchester M15 4RP.

Tickets are available via http://louderthanwordsfest.com and are available as weekend passes, day passes, or event tickets, ranging from £6 for an event to from £65 for a full early bird pass to the whole three-day weekend (prices are subject to a booking fee).

Louder Than Words is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

  • A version of this story appeared on our sister title the Yorkshire Post.
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