Thursday, 30 January 2014

Independent venues - how rock'n'roll are they really?

Apparently there's a thing on called Independent Venue Week, celebrating the small venues that support upcoming acts and grassroots fans. It's nice to know those places are still going – even if the impetus behind the event is that they might not be for much longer.

I don't go to gigs often these days: arthritis means that standing venues are out, and large ones can lack atmosphere. In any case, I've probably got more than an average lifetime's worth of gigs behind me already. But I cherish my memories of small venues.

My regular haunt in the late '70s was one of those legendary places where you could see every band that mattered, for very little money (I can boast that I saw Siouxsie and the Banshees for 75p). And where the next generation of musicians found their inspiration. It had character, and characters.

So it made me laugh to read an article in the Guardian moaning about the state of the UK's small venue circuit, and calling for more managers 'who understand they're in the customer service business first and the music business second'.

That's all wrong. And, let's face it, not very rock'n'roll. If music doesn't come first, why bother?

They still call it 'the toilet tour circuit'. Well, in my day the toilets in my favourite venue were as legendary as the bands that played (and not in a good way). But we didn't care.

As for customer service, the owner terrified all of us. But his knowledge of music – and desire to pass this on – was unsurpassable.

Kids these days. Don't know they're born... Don't deserve decent music.

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