The Gig That Changed The World: Sex Pistols at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall


June 4th, 1976: Sex Pistols play Manchester for the first time and change the music scene forever. There were only 42 people in the audience, but the gig inspired those audience members to create wonderful things. This was the first time Manchester had truly seen what punk was and it was quite different to what they were used to. The music reflected the angst and rebellion of the youth of the time and was a revolution in itself. Despite the band being made to go alongside Malcolm McLaren(Sex Pistols’ manager)’s new clothing range, the style of music was something very different and raw. It didn’t matter about talent, or precision. All that mattered was the message and that message was anarchy. Distorted guitars, shouty lyrics and an overall sense of “who cares?”, the Sex Pistols were a force to be reckoned with.


the sex pistols

Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks) put on the gig and were already way ahead of everyone in Manchester with booking the Sex Pistols. The Buzzcocks were meant to play that night but couldn’t as they didn’t have a drummer yet so the Sex Pistols stole the show. Also at the gig were the Stiff Kittens who went on to become Warsaw, and eventually becoming Joy Division. Peter Hook (bassist for Joy Division) said of the gig that it was a night that turned out to be the most important of his life. Other members of the audience included Morrisey who went on to form the Smiths, and one of the most famous redheads, Mick Hucknall. This gig acted as a trigger for many of the audience to pursue their musical dreams and it unleashed a creative fire that still hasn’t died down.


This gig is now somewhat of a myth or legend. Thousands of people have come forward with a claim to being there on the night that changed everything and there has even been a book written about it and it’s featured in films such as 24 Hour Party People(which any music fan should watch). All we know is, without that gig, the world would have missed out on many musical legends and the Sex Pistols have helped shape the world that we live in.


Punk is not dead. Punk will never be dead. If we have politics, we’ll have rebellion and it’s bands like these that help channel the frustration and anguish of a nation into helping a greater cause and giving people the freedom to express themselves.


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