There has been a lot written about the closure of music venues across the country. I started thinking of what my favourite venues have meant to me and why. This is a love letter to those venues. They have filled my heart with music over the years. Live music venues are culturally and personally important. They are the places amazing memories are made. This post has some of mine.
Many of the venues in Liverpool have gone. Some have changed so much I hardly recognise the sanctified versions of the sweaty haunts I used to visit. As I have got older and bolder the venues I love are now found across the country. I hope that one day they will be in cities across the world.
My first great loss was the legendary punk club Eric’s. The club was only open for a short while, but hosted gigs from so many iconic bands the flyers seem hard to believe. It was always a dark, dank basement venue, where the collective sweat of the crowd collected on the ceiling and rained down on the seething mass below. Shoes stuck to beer-stained carpets. It was glorious. I remember seeing Stiff Little Fingers at one of the despised matinees. I could barely get in, let alone see them, the place was so full. But the raw, exciting music was sublime. I was too baby faced to get into the evening shows, but to have just been part of it at all was amazing.
Fast forward to my favourite ever Liverpool club The Kazimier. I wrote my first review of The Jackobins after seeing them at a Liverpool Calling gig there. The atmosphere and the whole way the venue was laid out made it a brilliant place to see bands. I remember running in really late because I couldn’t get the night off to see The Fat White Family. They were doing a coin toss for the headline slot and I was on tenterhooks until I found they had won. The bouncers though I was hilarious getting to a gig at 10pm, but I managed to see half the Growlers set and all of The Fat White Family. A wild and chaotic night. Just one of my memorable gigs at that amazing and sadly missed venue.
I love so many different types of music. here are a few of my many memories; Bon Scott with Angus Young on his shoulders in the crowd at The Empire; getting tear gassed at the Beastie Boys concert at The Royal Court; The bouncers trying to stop Lux Interior from climbing the speaker stack and failing miserably, The Royal Court again; Baby Strange blowing my socks off as a support band at The Arts Club; Falls playing right next to me in the crowd at Maguires.
I can’t even remember what some of the venues were called – The club near Norton Street where I saw Cabaret Voltaire; The nightclub in the St John’s precinct where I saw Ultravox. The names don’t matter- the music does.
Gigs are more than just a band on a stage. They are an event; a memory; a feeling; life itself. When councils and developers close venues they remove more than a stage. When clubs become gentrified and only book ‘safe’ bands they discourage the new; the loud; the innovators.
And life becomes just that little bit greyer.