Pics by Birgit DeadlyGlamour and Stewart Vickers
Music Venue Trust #Fightback fundraiser for the venue Emergency Response Team
The Roundhouse, London 18th October, 2016
Pics by Birgit DeadlyGlamour and Stewart Vickers
In an ideal world, fundraisers and campaigns like #Fightback wouldn’t need to exist.
However, the New London is slowly being developed as a money parking space and entertainment playground for the rich, where going out now means having a chic dinner at an expensive restaurant followed by a quiet cocktail bar.
Music venues which do not play the latest American releases, but insist on having live upcoming talent or anything off the beaten track, and therefore will not create enough turnover for the new licence fees, are under threat, and will fall by the wayside. The closing down rate of venues providing live music in Central London alone has reached stupendous levels, and it is getting more and more important to voice concerns that this is not what people really want.
Fightback was literally organised with the premise “we book the venue, and have no bands or technical support confirmed, join us if you want to make a point and support our fight”. With around six weeks to go until the night.
And they came. Enough artists to fill three stages for an evening, and a house full of punters who put their money where their mouth was, and booked for a concert where they had no idea who was actually going to play. A bit like a mini Glastonbury in Central London.
The main stage under the famous Roundhouse dome was filled with indie heroes such as Ed Harcourt solo on guitar, headliners Everything Everything playing an energetic set, and Public Service Broadcasting, who did an awesome light show with extra visuals of almost Kraftwerk dimensions, and even had a guy dressed as an astronaut bopping along with them on stage.
The smaller Studio Theatre was the seated venue of the night, and was running a “two people out, two in” policy for the best part of the evening. It had more quiet acts, such as a violinist from the London Contemporary Orchestra, and singer and songwriter Samantha Whates with The Chaps Choir (complete with braces, flat tweed caps and neckerchiefs, of course). The headliner was The Leisure Society, who had to face driving all the way back to Burton-on-Trent after their contribution.
The Chaps Choir
The smallest and most pub-venue like stage was at the bar, and it was this part which was literally packed like sardines in a tin. The minuscule backstage area on the side had the instruments stacked like Tetris, and changeover time was frantic, getting all instruments including a drum kit in the 2x2m stage space, and doing a blink-and-you-missed-it soundcheck.
Fifteen minutes stage time for each act, enough for a handful of songs, and everybody was full-on from the word go, no warming up time here.
You can see that bands are popular when you have a gaggle of girls dancing like there’s no tomorrow at the front of the stage.
On there, The Blinders made the point that taking off your t-shirt and scrawling in marker pen on your chest didn’t die with the Sex Pistols, or indeed the Manic Street Preachers.
Bang Bang Romeo
The singer of Bang Bang Romeo had successfully raided the contents of Marc Bolan’s or Bowie’s wardrobe, and played a glam-rock inspired set.
Judas channeled Led Zeppelin and showed that, pleasantly, there are still lead singers around who actually look like rock stars.
And Sisteray proved that The Clash are alive and well and playing a pub stage near you, with songs about Brexit and gentrification.
However, one single day of fundraising does not mean the battle is won.
The latest potential victim of the government policy is already on the horizon, The Good Ship in Kilburn, the last remaining live music venue in the area. Brent Council wants to propose an earlier closing time, which would effectively bankrupt the venue. John McCooke, the owner, suggests you send letters of support to Brent Council at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dance clubs which play eclectic choices and not LCDM have exactly the same problems. (LCDM ~ Lowest Common Denominator Music. You heard that expression here first, do quote me). It’s not just Fabric, or the similarly threatened Ministry of Sound.
Club 414 on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, which is now sited in a prime development area, is battling Lambeth Council for their licence. Support and comments to: https://planning.lambeth.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=NQCLFWBO03I00
Also, there is a general petition to the government to disallow moving into an entertainment area and then complaining about pre-existing noise from music (and any other) venues.
The campaign can be signed here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/168135
The Leisure Society
On the good news side, the vicar of St Michael’s in Camden, Reverend Tom Plant, is trying to turn the church into a live music venue according to a recent article in the Evening Standard. Fingers crossed.
The closing down of iconic venue 12 Bar in Denmark Street, mentioned by several bands on the night as their first proper London gig, was the wake-up call.
If we don’t step up and be counted, who will?