The Saturday List #1 – My top ten London venues – past and present

This week we said that when we got 600 followers on twitter, I’d tweet my top ten London venues, past and present. Having done it, it really brought home to me the way the London Music scene has changed since I started gigging in 1980. I’ve added a few thoughts on the gig scene and how it has changed.

Here they are in reverse order

#10, The Torrington, North Finchley (closed), sadly missed – Steve Marriot !
#9, Brixton Academy – The Pogues, Happy Mondays say no more !
#8, The 100 club, Oxford Street. Now predominantly jazz, but had iconic gigs
#7, The Rainbow, scene of some classic gigs Not least the Ramones 1977 & PiL
#6, Dingwalls (before rebuilt) – rubbed shoulders with Lemmy on many an occasion !
#5, The Lyceum The Strand, Used to do great Sunday night gigs
#4 – The Nashville, West Kensington (Closed), Superb, Always good bands
#3 The Moonlight, West Hampstead (closed) My default Fri night gig home !
#2 – The Marquee, Wardour street (closed) Saw The Fall,The Cure & loads else
#1 – The Roundhouse – Saw the Ramones here 1977 and a stack of others since!

Other worthy venues which deserve a mention –  The Red Cow, The Half Moon, The Vortex, The Hope & Anchor, The Good Ship, The Underworld, Powerhaus, Spitz,12 bar & The Blue note.

After a little twitter conversation, I also listed the first ten venues my band played. The only one of these that still has bands is the Midland Arms in Hendon, which has been rebranded as “The Claddagh Ring” and mostly has cover/tribute bands. The issue it brought home to me is just how few venues there are for young bands to play. What is interesting in this little history is the progress. We started with gigs in the Harwood Hall, Mill Hill. I organised these. We then played at Orange Hill School, where 3 of us attended. The next step up was Hendon Rugby club, which was a regular venue. We supported a well known local circuit band (The Chevrons). From there we got booked to play a support at the Midland Arms, which was at the time being built up as a venue by a guy called Robert Armstrong, a guy who ran (and still does) a music duplication service. It was a bit of a coup for us as the band we supported were called “Way of the West” and had  a Radio 1 single of the week. The last three of the ten gigs were all at well established London clubs and we had achieved a decent sized following. We also did a tour of Scandinavia. Where is the similar circuit and progression? At the time, I’d go to the Moonlight club every Friday and the Music Machine in Camdent every Tuesday, just to hang out and check out the bands. There were dozens of similar venues. It seems to me that has completely disappeared. People only go to check out bands they know. Here’s the full list.

Harwood Hall Nw7,
Orange Hill School Hall,
Hendon Rugby club,
Midland arms (Hendon),
Kenton JYC,
Copper (Tower Bridge rd),
Ad Lib club Kensington,
Moonlight Club (West Hampstead),
Tunnel (Greenwich)

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