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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA



previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke





ACE LIPS Comedy Night at the Flying Horse

Preview by Steve Cooke

The latest ACE LIPS not to be missed Comedy night is with us on Friday 26th April at the Old Court Room in Rochdale!

These events should be socially prescribed! A much-needed opportunity to escape the increasingly scary world around us.

A stellar line-up right in the centre of our town with Tony Burgess (from BBC3's Ideal), Freddy Quinne (host of Dead Men Talking and social media sensation), Meryl O’Rourke (Frankie Boyle's witty writer), Mark Newsome (featured on Channel 4's Screws), and the rising star, Amit Mistry!

MC for the night, Tony Burgess, is an award-winning stand-up comedian, comedy writer and actor based in Manchester. As well as performing stand-up all over the UK for over 25 years – he’s also written sitcoms for the BBC, plays for The Royal Exchange Theatre and written for many big-name comedians such as Steve Coogan, John Bishop, and Johnny Vegas.


Friday 26 April, 20:30 – 22:45, The Old Court Room, The Flying Horse Hotel, Packer Street, Rochdale.


FRAG [Friends of Rochdale Art Gallery] the Grand Tour, Rochdale style

By Dr Joe Dawson


In previous centuries, the Grand Tour was an aristocratic educational trip through European places of artistic and historical importance. FRAG (Friends of Rochdale Art Gallery) took a modern-day tour of the newly- renovated Rochdale Town Hall, and grand it was indeed.


It has already generated some 11,000 visitors and attracted much international attention since opening in March. FRAG’s guided tour was led by Peter Fitton, who delivered his encyclopaedic knowledge and insights with genial enthusiasm. He was also a cordial compere - the star of the show being the town hall itself.


It is rumoured that this was one UK building that Hitler would have had if he would have won. This may be apocryphal, but it speaks to the reputation of this notable example of Victorian neo-gothic architecture from 1871, shot through with local history.


The last time that FRAG toured in 2019, the late Alan Taylor gave a short demonstration of the Binns organ in the main hall. The internationally renowned instrument has undergone the first phase of its restoration, so hopefully, we will soon hear one of the town’s greatest assets again.


But even more glorious than the artistic and historic gems that now gleam so brightly was the overwhelming sense of freedom and fun. Formal tours framed by restored opulent decoration, a Mayoral photoshoot in progress, contrasted with adults and children wandering freely, which created the feeling that this is a massive community arts activity for all. The welcoming staff clearly tried to put people at ease.


The town hall has always projected a sense of civic grandeur and wonderment. Still so today, but it felt much more relaxed, like a prim Victorian nanny who has just let her hair down or taken advice from Mary Poppins. For example, the startling reclaimed Bright Hall above the Great Hall, includes panels of new artwork by the local community.


The FRAG tour allowed them to see areas yet to be opened, such as the Martlet Kitchen Restaurant, opening May 2024. The heraldic symbol of the Martlet (a mythical footless bird that never roosts) promises boundless energy to the very end. When the environs are complete and Touchstones too has finished its own renovation in 2025, Rochdale will have a remarkable Arts Quarter, whose energy should inspire our communities for many generations to come.


FRAG continues whilst Touchstones is closed. They meet every second Thursday afternoon of each month, based at the Rochdale Music Service building in The Butts. The next event is a talk on Artists Rooms from the Tate and National Scottish galleries tour, which Touchstones will partner in 2025. All enquiries 01706 648872.



Preview by Steve Cooke

Hear the strands of Huang Ruo’s new symphony grow and meet each other as you travel through the streets of the city – before a world premiere of the full score performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at Aviva Studios.

City of Floating Sounds is an invitation to connect with our surroundings and each other. Experience a shifting soundscape as you journey through the city. Can you find other audience members to create a richer sound? 

Pushing the boundaries of classical music performance, City of Floating Sounds uses cutting-edge creative technology to take music out into the city. Guided by a bespoke mobile app, make your way through the streets of Manchester listening to fragments of Huang Ruo’s meditative new work, recorded by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

As you get closer to Aviva Studios – and other audience members – the sound will expand, revealing more parts of the work. An opportunity to explore Manchester in a new light – the path you take and who you meet on your journey can all change what you hear.

On arrival at Aviva Studios, enjoy the world premiere of City of Floating Sounds performed live by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Hear the full score come to life with an immersive performance – this is a classical concert experience like no other.

Artist and composer Huang Ruo is known for his distinctive sound that blends Chinese folk with Western avant-garde music. No stranger to composing for urban landscapes, he created a site-specific audio work in Manchester Town Hall for Music for a Busy City at MIF17. The project brings together Huang Ruo, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Creative Technologist Josh Kopeček from Echoes – a company that specialises in creating unique sound experiences through app technology.

City of Floating Sounds asks you to open your senses to the city. What will you hear and who might you meet?

6 - 8 JUN 2024

Accessibility features available for this event: Wheelchair Access

Standard Tickets £20

Aviva £10 tickets

Affordable Tickets £10

Visit: or call 0333 322 8679 (phone lines are open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm).



Thursday 25 April 2024

Emma Kenny's Killer Cults

Following on from the success of her Serial Killer Next Door tour, psychology expert Emma Kenny continues her journey into true crime and explores the mysterious and manipulative world of cults.

How can ordinary people, living normal lives, choose to leave their families, friends and everything they have ever known to join a cult? What is it about the power and allure of cult leaders that makes them able to control the minds of their members? And why do these so-called spiritual leaders turn into malevolent murderers?

Killer cults provides the answers, delving into the psychology of these charismatic killers and their followers, and analysing some of the most notorious and infamous cases, including Jim Jones and The Peoples Temple, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians and Marshall Applewhite’s Heaven’s Gate. Think you’re immune to the call of the cult? Join Emma and find out – a must-see for all true crime fans.

Tickets from £26.50

Phone: Middleton Arena 0300 303 8633 


Middleton Arena, LCpl Joel Halliwell VC Way, Middleton M24 1AG


Thursday 25 April 2024

Riverside Writing Group

This is a weekly facilitated and welcoming workshop open to all writers over eighteen years whether new or experienced.

You can join them, just bring a pen and your imagination.


Phone: Eileen Earnshaw 07514 671283

10am - 12 noon

Rochdale Central Library, Number One Riverside, Smith Street, Rochdale OL16 1XU


Friday 26 April 2024

A Century of Swing

Join the UK’s hardest swinging band Down for the Count All-Stars for “one hellova celebration of vintage music” (TimeOut London) as they celebrate A Century of Swing.

Described as “a breath of fresh air on the swing scene”, Down for the Count are regularly found in jazz clubs across the UK and abroad (Ronnie Scott’s London, Le Caveau de la Huchette Paris), at festivals including London Jazz Festival, and on BBC Radio. Now they are bringing the sounds and feels of the best jazz clubs to theatres around the country – with an electrifying show full of incredible energy, musicianship, and their own signature wry wit and humour.

Down for the Count’s 2022-23 show celebrates A Century of Swing. The band take you on a whistle-stop tour of the best swing music, tracing the origins of the style from 1920s America through to the genre’s heyday in the 30s, 40s and 50s. The band will also perform their own original arrangements of classic jazz standards featured on their new album, Just You, Just Me, bringing swing music right up to date.

You’ll hear instrumental songs from the likes of Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller and vocal classics from singers such as Nat ‘King’ Cole and Ella Fitzgerald, all presented with Down for the Count’s own unmistakable witticisms.

Tickets from £15

Phone: Middleton Arena 0300 303 8633 


Middleton Arena, LCpl Joel Halliwell VC Way, Middleton M24 1AG


Friday 26 April 2024

An Intimate Gig with Chris Helme (former front man of The Seahorses)

Performing an intimate solo gig at The Engine House at Lodge Mill with Special Guest


Phone: Martin Cove 07775660072

Doors open 7pm

Engine House at Lodge Mill, Lodge Mill, Townley Street, Middleton M24 1AT


Until Saturday 27 April 2024

Love In The Title

A gentle and lyrical play portraying the lives of three generations of women. When they meet in the fields of Corcamore in Ireland to paint a watercolour, Katie is accompanied by the youthful versions of her mother, Triona, and her grandmother, Cat. Caught out of time they swap experiences of their lives. A play infused with Irish irony family myths, laughter with a flashes of comedy in the blink of an eye

Written by Hugh Leonard

Directed by Mal Fidler

Phone: Danny Groves 01706 642 008

The Curtain Theatre, 47 Milkstone Road, Rochdale OL11 1EB


Thursday 25 April 2024 - Saturday 27 April 2024

Visit Fireground Museum

Join us at Fireground this week to discover Greater Manchester's firefighting story.

Fire museum attractions are on show inside the museum including our collection of historic firefighting artefacts from the 18th century to present day, plus home-made refreshments in the new Fireground Café, and souvenirs from our fantastic new gift shop! We have a wide choice ranging from toddler to collector.

Under 4s are free, Children (aged 4-15) and Concessions £5, Adults £7 and Family (4 people) £20.

Phone: Fireground 01706 341219

Open Thursday, Friday & Saturday from 10am - 4pm

Fireground, Maclure Road, Rochdale OL11 1DN


Saturday 27 April 2024

One Night In Dublin

The ultimate feel-good Irish music tribute show!

Receiving rave reviews for its incredible musicians and great song choices, Middi and his award-winning tribute band cover all of your favourite sing-along Irish classics including 'Galway Girl', 'Tell Me Ma', 'The Irish Rover', 'Dirty Old Town', 'Whiskey in the Jar', 'The Wild Rover', 'Black Velvet Band' and many many more.

Performed by "The best Irish band to never come from Ireland", the Wild Murphys are a seven-piece band with Fiddle, Banjo and Accordion. Let them take you to 'Murphy's Pub' for two hours of music, songs and humour.

With songs by the Pogues, the Saw Doctors, the Dubliners, the Fureys, Flogging Molly, The Dropkick Murphys and more, One night in Dublin is a must see for anyone who loves Irish music. It's like St. Patricks day every night!

Tickets from £23.50Phone: Middleton Arena 0300 303 8633 


Middleton Arena, LCpl Joel Halliwell VC Way Middleton M24 1AG


Saturday 27 April 2024

Together in Concert

Together in Concert with Boro Brass and The Good Vibes Choir

£6 for adults and £4 for 12 and under plus booking fee

Phone: Sue Hampshire 07791124726


St Mary in the Baum, St Mary’s Gate, Toad Lane, Rochdale, OL16 1DZ



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