There are few gigs I genuinely can/want to go to nowadays, so it's really sad to find that one I have already bought tickets for (British Sea Power) clashes with another I was so passionate about going to - A Hawk and a Hacksaw ! I double checked the dates, and am so deflated. They seldom play live in this country, as they're from Albuquerque (even though they make eastern european sounds, and for ages I thought they were so obviously from Russia). I have seen them live once, years ago, and it was a sort of crazed accordion-led/boozed up hoe-down. Oh well, I shall have to buy all those albums of theirs that I never got onto pursuing, instead.
Speaking of gig venues, I am still sorely disappointed at news that The Bull and Gate in Kentish Town, one of the last sticky-floored indie hide-aways of my youth, is going to not only become one of those horrible dining rooms where you can't feasibly sit and have a pint; but it will also lose its music venue. The music venue that has broken many a tiny band (including Coldplay, if you must!), or quite simply just been a vital little platform for indie rock bands in their infancy for years and years.
I shall be going to as many gigs there as I can before it closes in May, but before that, I went to the pub as soon as I possibly could after hearing the news, for pints. So many memories, gigs, pints. It's a pub I have always felt glad to see standing in its same old ways whenever in Kentish Town - because it's a pub and venue that seemed to continue to defy stupid gastropub fads and any kind of large, ugly, corporate branded enterntainment format or trended style. It was a good old pub, a good old venue.
Immediately on being served at the bar the other week, I found myself having a really decent chat with the landlord about what had happened. He said the place had been up for sale for a few years, and how not one person from the music industry had come forward with an offer to take it over. How shameful.
But he did bear the good news that the pub would have to retain its decor and architecture, because it is Grade II listed. So there is a sliver of hope. Because the pub's history and the place as a building is so important too. Opposite The Bull and Gate, you have a glassy estate agents (probably a big part of the change in the area, catering for/aiming at new sorts of people), and a really soulless looking glassy eating place (I forget its name), plus The Assembly Rooms seem to have lost the feel of a relaxed pub and are now more like swish dining rooms themselves.
I despise gentrification. I will always love history and character. I would always rather a bit of paint peeling and a touch of scruff to show a place has been lived in/enjoyed, than permanently pristine/new looking places that are essentially only for the wealthy. Poorer people need pubs too! Pubs should welcome anyone, but when The Bull and Gate becomes a gastro pub many people will be alienated or simply no longer welcome. Club Fandango (Fierce Panda Record lable's clubnight) will move on, but this is still such a huge loss to the indie music world.
And what of the Grade II listed pub's side-sign that boasts the word VENUE?