Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Venue and me

Came across this little doc the other day. It’s about legendary London venue the 100 club which, like most of the legendary venues in London, seems destined to be closed (actually most of ‘em have already been closed). Of course this kind of cultural destruction ain’t limited to the capital. Here in Birmingham many of us are probably still mourning the loss of the Jug Of Ale, Edwards and JB’s (I’m sure older readers could point out a dozen other venues that have played hosts to dozens of legendary gigs but gone on to be demolished to make way for something really pointless). I know there was a club over in Erdington called Mothers which played host to pretty much every important rock band of the 70’s including (deep breath) Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, The Who, T-Rex, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple...the list goes on and on. It shut in 1971 (although I think the building’s still there).

Arguably the biggest balls up in history was the demolition of the original Cavern club in Liverpool to make way for a car park...which wasn’t even built in the end. Genius. What developers and local authorities just don’t seem to get is that venues aren’t just buildings. Each gig (even the crap ones) adds another layer of magic which builds up year after year. Every stain on the wall, band sticker in the loo or footprint in an improbable place tells a story. I reckon venues should make more of this history...a wall of fame or something that records the names of all the bands who’ve played there...so these places become recognised as something worth preserving when the axe starts to fall.

Maybe it’s just me but I find all of this musical heritage stuff fascinating. I’m guessing that a lot of bands and a fair few punters would too. Whilst I’m on a nostalgia tip I seem to remember an idea a few years ago for a museum of Birmingham bands. I think they wanted to put it in the old Futurist cinema (instead it became a lap dancing club...just like Birmingham’s Ronnie Scott’s venue on Broad Street). What a great tourist attraction that could be eh? Extend it to Midlands bands and venues and you’ve got something of genuine cultural importance for the City. Oh I forgot. There’s a recession on isn’t there? Still at least we can pour millions into a new public library which no one will use and then waste millions knocking the old one down just as that building begins to attract some kind of grudging respect as an example of brutalist architecture. The sooner Carl Chinn’s made Mayor of Birmingham the better. I reckon he’d be up for a Museum of Midland Music. Anyway, the point of all this is to direct you to the campaign to save the 100 Club. I’ve never been there but I’d like to have the chance to. More to the point I’d like future generations to have the opportunity to visit and play a venue that’s shaped music history for more than 6 decades. Now that has to be more important than another office block doesn’t it?

PS: If you watch the doc you’ll hear that they need to raise £500,000 or so before Christmas to save the place. You’ll also hear Mick Jagger (one of thousands of people who’s played there) bang on about how important it is too. Hmmmm...a multi millionaire with more money than he knows what to do with and an ego the size of planet earth and a venue that needs a sugar daddy...

PPS: To the left of this nonsense you’ll see a list of venues in Birmingham. Go to them. We don’t need any more car parks.

PPPS: So, how’s about that museum of Midlands music then eh?

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