With the uplifting beats of Northern Uproar’s ‘From a Window’ blasting onto Whitworth Street West, entering through the distinctive doors and into the shadowy confines of the Ritz’s iconic springy dancefloor, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped back to the mid-1990s.

Unlike its former neighbouring nightclub, The Hacienda, which has long been boarded up and converted into glamorous city centre apartments, the Ritz lives on as it was intended when it first opened its doors in 1927, as an entertainment hub for the finest musicianship in Manchester.

Today, the iconic venue has managed to escape property developers’ clutches and acts as a pivotal setting for showcasing music coming out of the city, old and new, and none more so than the 1990s’ indie scene, an era that defined Manchester’s culture, demarcated by a generation of guitar bands and their devoted young followers.

Paying homage to the ‘Madchester’ scene and the era of Britpop decadence was the recent Star Shaped Festival, hailed as the biggest celebration of the Britpop genre seen since the 1990s.

A line-up of bands, best known to punters on the backside of 40, took to the stage, including the Morrissey-influenced Echobelly from London, who debuted in 1994, the Glaswegian five-piece The Supernaturals, who had a string of singles in the mid-to-late ’90s, and Manchester-born and bred, ’90s indie band Northern Uproar. Collectively, they evoked memories of indie hedonism to the delight of the nostalgic crowd of predominantly 40-somethings, reliving their misspent youth.

One such punter was 42-year-old Bex, who grew up in Manchester in the 1990s and has lived in the south of England since the turn of the millennium. “The Ritz hasn’t changed in 20 years. It brought back all the memories and the nostalgia of attending the indie nights every Monday and Wednesday without fail back in the ‘90s. The people looked the same as they always did, the haircuts and baggy jackets, though of course older and dancing more tamely,” said Bex.

Leon Mayer (40), Northern Uproar’s lead singer, who last played at the Ritz 20 years ago with the original band, shared his enthusiasm of being part of the Britpop revival in Manchester: “It was great to be back playing at the Ritz after 20 years, in such an authentic, classic venue. It’s fantastic to be part of a Britpop revival, as it gives us the chance to play more regularly in bigger venues and see the people who grew up in the scene our band was a part of.”

Chris Whitehead, Northern Uproar’s former manager, who met the lads in 1992 when he was working as a parky in Heald Green, attended the recent Star Shaped Festival at the Ritz.

“There are revivals in every form of music. Why shouldn’t the Britpop guys and gals still go out and enjoy their music? Manchester is a city that’s always produced good bands, and long may it continue,” Whitehead commented.

The Ritz is far from the only longstanding venue in Manchester to proudly preserve its indie heritage. Night and Day Café on Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter is regarded as a protagonist of the Manchester music scene. Since opening in 1991, Night and Day has become something of an obligatory stage for bands old and new, established and emerging, and continues to be a favourite haunt for indie music followers.

South, the tiny basement club on South King Street, is another iconic venue from back in the day, conserving the Madchester spirit. Parallel to the original Britpop era, when the coolest Indie crew would mosh to a heady mix of danceable ska, punk rock and Britpop every Saturday night, the best indie tunes and alternative anthems still blast out onto South King Street with the Inspiral Carpets’ keyboardist Clint Boon’s weekly night, Forever.

The mod-inspired haircuts might be a little thinner on top, the midriffs not quite as flat, and the dancing markedly tamer, but when it comes to ruminating the Britpop era, Manchester is second to none. As Bex remarked, “There’s a Britpop vibe here that simply can’t be recreated in the likes of London and even Brighton. Manchester is the home of indie. I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up anywhere else.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Leon Mayer, who says: “It’s always great to play Manchester, coz it’s easy to get home.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead