Licensing legend of the Manchester nightlife scene, Tony Lyons, aka @thelicenceman, has successfully secured a licence for a one-off rave at a ‘top-secret’ venue on the closing night of the Beyond The Music conference and festival.
Unlike previous career highs, such as keeping the Hacienda open during its most turbulent times and introducing café culture to the Gay Village, Lyons marked his latest licensing landmark in a very 21st Century fashion – operating his business almost exclusively through his Instagram account.
The Beyond The Music closing night event, Prolific North can exclusively reveal, will take place on the ground floor and basement of the Northern Quarter car park on Tib Street, on Saturday, October 14 from 4pm until 11pm. It’s being run in collaboration with The Face Magazine, is subtitled The Face Car Park Rave, and features the likes of High Hoops’ FastLove and Meat Free’s AALICE, and is no longer at such a secret location.
Beyond The Music’s not-so-secret closing night party
Manchester’s go-to licensing legal adviser Tony Lyons has managed to deliver law and order in some of the most colourful episodes of Manchester’s leisure sector through the decades, and his latest trip to the licensing committee saw him team up with Beyond The Music organiser Oli Wilson having previously worked extensively with his dad, Factory Records and Hacienda boss Tony Wilson.
Lyons is renowned in the city for his strategic licensing advice, and is widely known as ‘thelicenceman,’ which he has even trademarked, perhaps unsurprisingly given his legal background.
Lyons spent 20 years as head of licensing at Kuits Solicitors, during which time he landed a place in the coveted Legal 500 Hall of Fame. He also landed Manchester Law Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.
He has now gone solo and operates from his Instagram account @thelicenceman, with administrative support from licensing law firm Gosschalks LLP, for whom he acts as a senior consultant.
Lyons is a living encyclopaedia of Manchester’s licensing history through his work securing legal approval for drinking, dancing and music for pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants.
Beyond his work for The Hacienda, he was a game changer when acting for Carol Ainscow in her battle to get pavement seating outside Manto Bar in Canal Street in 1992, when (no, seriously) the practice was interpreted as breaking the city’s bye-laws.
He won the Revolution Bars account by beating them in a tussle over a collapsed bar’s licence: “I was acting for the insolvency firm. After I won the hearing, the Revolution guys gave me their card and said I should call them.”
More recently, Lyons hit the headlines when he successfully won a licence for the operators of the under-construction co-working space at T1 Union East Tower on Water Street to sell alcohol from a vending machine. This despite concerns that the “unusual application” could be abused by under-18s if granted.
Lyons has also helped many North West operators crack the notoriously tough London market, including the San Carlo group and Revolution Bars.
“Anywhere that needs drinking, dancing or music needs a licence, and that’s where I help,” Lyons said. “Walk down any Manchester street and there are people having fun in many different premises. But they need a licence to do it, and, perhaps more importantly, one which doesn’t negatively impact their operations by being too onerous.”
For a man who has managed to secure alcohol and entertainment licences for a public toilet in Chepstow Street, which we now know as the Temple of Convenience, and once had a client who lost a licence for trying to hide a bullet from their nightclub wall from police, the latest car park application sounds a fairly humdrum day at the office: “It is all in a day’s work,” said Lyons. “Licensing is in my DNA, I love supporting and advising clients to help them fulfil their ambitions and grow their businesses by delivering good times to their customers.”