Britpop Defined: A Guide To An Enduring Era

30 May 2015
Read Time: 1.8 mins

Beginning with Suede's stunning eponymous debut and culminating in the ego-drenched excess of Oasis' Be Here Now, for a few short years Britpop turned the musical spotlight away from Seattle and firmly back onto Britain.

Three cities acted as the catalyst, epicentre and reaction to the movement and the respective roles Manchester, London and Glasgow played in re-shaping Britain's musical history say much about the cities themselves.

Bold, brash and bombastic, Britpop may have come and gone in a flash, but it left an indelible mark on Britain's musical landscape, the remnants of which you can still see around the country today.

 Crowds of adoring fans flocked to live gigs during the Britpop phase. (Image: Getty)

From Madchester To Ladchester

What is now a nondescript block of flats on the south side of the Rochdale Canal was once the starting point for a movement which helped re-define British music. The Haçienda only existed as a music venue for 15 years but in that time it played host to such bands as New Order, the Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses.

However, one band in particular escaped Manchester's gritty inner-city suburbs to become a worldwide phenomenon and help spark the Britpop movement. At the height of their fame, Oasis played to some 300,000 fans over two historic nights at Knebworth, yet their march to global acclaim started in small local venues just like The Haçienda.

 Inside the historic Haçienda. (Image: Wikipedia)

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London Calling

If Manchester was the focal point of a new northern sound, swaggering London was arguably the epicentre of Britpop. Kicking off with Suede's guitar-tinged debut, ironically it was a song about a country house which focused the musical spotlight firmly back on London.

When Blur released their hit single Country House in 1995, they did so on the same day Oasis released Roll With It. Amidst a media frenzy dubbed 'The Battle of Britpop', Blur came out on top with more single sales.

Despite the success, they soon found the glare of the spotlight too harsh to bear, though the rain-washed streets of Camden Town still drip with the motifs, which inspired Blur's quintessentially British The Great Escape and its unforgettable lead single.

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Regeneration Glasgow Style

By the time Oasis' bloated Be Here Now was released to critical disdain in 1997, the Britpop movement was well and truly on the wane. Far from embracing the sounds from the south, the Scottish city of Glasgow was all about creating its own style.

Bands like Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai and Travis reacted to Britpop's over-the-top swagger with more introspective tones, helping consolidate Glasgow's vibrant regeneration in the process.

Venues like the Barrowlands and King Tut's Wah Wah Hut were soon heaving with eager music fans keen to soak up the post-Britpop revival, paving the way for a new generation of British bands to launch an aural assault on the world.

 The Barrowland Ballroom (aka Barrowlands) in Glasgow. (Image: Wikipedia)

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Mike Tuckerman

From Europe to Asia and many places in between, there's rarely a town or city I've not enjoyed exploring. When I'm not wandering the streets and discovering new destinations, you can usually find me hanging out with the locals at major sporting events.