London loses another music venue as The Flowerpot closes
Tuesday 02 November 2010
The flowerpot is no more. The north London pub, famous as a venue where you could see bands tipped as "the next big thing" – and A&R men hoping to sign them – has been forced to shut after its building lease was sold.
It is the third major music venue in London to face a fight for survival this year due to a combination of recession, rent rises and heavy regulation.
The Flowerpot's organisers have vowed to start up again – but not at the usual Kentish Town venue, where musicians from the UK and abroad played some of their earliest gigs.
In September 2009, the Drums, an indie pop group from Brooklyn, who featured on BBC's "Sound of 2010" list of new music, played one of their first gigs at the venue. While, Mona, an anthemic rock band from Nashville – who recently signed a huge deal with Island Records – played their first ever UK show at the pub. The venue also became known for more established acts, such as Florence and the Machine, playing low-key sets.
The pub was celebrated for its informal venue, friendly staff, and a low but sizable stage alongside the bar where there was a performance almost every evening. The closing night on Sunday was celebrated with music, cheap drinks and fancy dress. An announcement on The Flowerpot website said: "We're completed gutted to inform you that from 1 November The Flowerpot will no longer be at this venue."
Meanwhile, a campaign to save London's oldest live music venue is being launched tonight. The 100 Club in Oxford Street marked its 68th anniversary last month. The first performance was held there on the same weekend that Montgomery led the Eighth Army into action against Rommel's Afrika Korps, in the second battle of El Alamein.
The rent for the cellar club has risen sixteen fold, from £11,000 to £166,000, in the 25 years that its current owner, Jeff Horton, has been in charge. He took over in 1985 from his father, who started running the club in 1964. Bands who have performed there include the Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Oasis and many more. "When it comes to rock and roll, The 100 Club is the best room in London. No contest. No other venue comes close," Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records said.
The Half Moon in Putney, which has been a music venue since 1963, was scheduled to close in January, but after a "Save the Half Moon" campaign attracted 6,500 supporters, the brewery, Young's, granted the tenants a reprieve and a package to help them through the recession.
The crisis in live music, which employed 44,000 people before the recession bit in 2008, was given official recognition in May when David Cameron and Nick Clegg drew up their coalition agreement, which promised: "We will cut red tape to encourage the performance of more live music."
The former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, said: "Places that have provided pleasure to generations of Londoners should not be closed unnecessarily. Many great bands have emerged from London's live music scene and many London gigs have changed the course of music history."
John Smith, head of the Musicians' Union, said: "Live music is not only an integral part of London's thriving nightlife – it is also very profitable for pubs and venues."
* The Drums, the New York band behind the catchy summer single Let's Go Surfing, played one of their first UK gigs at The Flowerpot in September 2009.
* Folk group Mumford & Sons played there in May 2009, several months before their Mercury Prize nominated debut album Sigh No More was released.
* Mona, a hotly-tipped rock quartet from Nashville, played their first UK gig there in September.
* I Blame Coco, fronted by Sting's daughter Coco Sumner, played a "secret gig" there in June this year. Their debut will be released by Island in November.
* The Vaccines, a hyped new London four-piece, played their first hometown gig at the venue in September.
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