Top 10 live music venues I’ve been to so far. Part 1: Numbers 10-7
So I was feeling a little scatterbrained a few weeks ago, and in between doing several things at once, I compiled a list on Facebook of what I believe to be the best places I’ve seen live music in over the years. I’ll use this piece here to add a few photos, and to share some personal memories.
When I initially conceived this piece, I thought it would be a nice easy read from start to finish, broken up by the occasional photo. But then I really started to get into it, and the whole thing ended up becoming a virtual scrapbook with prose bordering on essay territory, so huge I’ve had to separate it into a few parts. But I can assure you that it is worth reading (well, at least I think it is), and it gives you a little bit of an insight into my world, highlighting an activity that I love more than most. Actually, check that, it’s more than just an activity. Live music is my passion.
Okay, a bit of legal stuff before I proceed. Some of the photos I’ve used here (mainly the venue shots) are not my own. Before I get accused of stealing anyone else’s intellectual property, I just want to make it clear that I do not intend use of these photos in a negative fashion, and just in case any of the snapshot owners find this blog, I urge you to read this disclaimer. Any photo that has been borrowed will have an asterisk (*) next to it.
So without further ado, enjoy the memories, personal photos of variable quality, and all around goodness as you step into my world.
10. …escobar, Wakefield
This is a small venue that is sadly no longer with us (okay, it’s moved its operations over to Leeds, but it isn’t the same). I only went there the once, but it had a profound effect on me.
There wasn’t really a proper stage there, just a tiny raised step. If you were stood at the front of a crowd, you could literally reach out and grab anyone who was playing right in front of you. It certainly had to be a little nervewracking playing in there, in an environment where all eyes would be fixed towards the stage, with every performer being able to see everyone.
In its heyday, …escobar was seen as an important venue for bands on the rise to perform at and build a fanbase, many of whom went on to bigger and greater things, with the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Wakefield natives The Cribs immediately springing to mind.
Gig highlight: The Long Blondes, March 22 2008
My only show at …escobar saw the Sheffield five-piece play here as part of a short tour to promote their forthcoming second album “Couples”. It was a good night from what I remember. After resisting the usual harassment from short people trying to get me to move, I had a fun time “dancing” along to their songs, a fact positively commented on by bassist Reenie Hollis when I had the chance to talk to her (and keyboardist/guitarist Emma Chaplin) afterwards.
9. Roadmender, Northampton
I’ve only been to 1 Ladys Lane, Northampton for two shows, but I really like the vibe of this place, and the crowds that I was amongst knew how to party. Definitely a good stop-off for bands on the way up.
Gig highlight: Blood Red Shoes, March 11 2009
BRS 8 - yes, that was a fun one. This was one of only three headline shows that Steve and Laura did that year, mainly as a method of road-testing new material, most of which would end up on second album Fire Like This. Also memorable personally for being the one and only time that I invaded the stage at a BRS gig, during the playing of ‘I Wish I Was Someone Better’. Supporting them that night were that crazy Leeds quartet Pulled Apart By Horses, they certainly know how to get a crowd going.
8. Electric Ballroom, Camden, London
One visit was more than enough for this legendary venue to sink its claws into me. I love going to Camden in any case, referring to it as being my ‘London playground’ whenever I’m in the capital. Don’t be fooled by the tiny looking entrance, it is quite humongous once you get inside.
Gig highlight: Blood Red Shoes, October 7 2010
BRS 11, what an amazing night. For a detailed gig review and more photos, please click here.
7. Apollo, Manchester
I will say this now, the Apollo located over in Ardwick is one of the best venues for sound that I have ever been to. If anyone goes there and doesn’t perform to their full potential, they cannot blame it on the house system. Similarly, no artist/band should ever go in there and feel overawed at the size of the place, having a good gig there can significantly boost their careers.
Gig highlight: Bloc Party, January 29 2009
Also memorable for being the first gig I attended after completing my move to Manchester three days earlier. As far as I could see, a great time was being had by all as Kele and co belted out the tunes. One of those rowdy nights with plenty of jumping, thrashing and even moshing at times. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t end up standing in the same position as I was at the start of their set.
So then, boys and girls, that was Part 1. Hope you enjoyed. The second part of this is on its way very soon!!!!!!!!!!