The toughest gig in town

The recession has decimated small music venues. As London's Luminaire becomes the latest to go to the wall

Independent venues have helped launch the careers of legendary bands such as the Sex Pistols as well as fledgling acts but increasingly these crucibles of music are being forced to shut their doors.

The Luminaire in north west London, which has boosted the careers of you ng acts such as Mumford & Sons, Hot Chip, Babyshambles and Editors has announced it will close on 31 December.

In a statement on the venue's website, the Luminaire's co-founder Andy Inglis, said: "It's been a labour of love for a while now, and at this point it makes no sense for us to continue." While Mr Inglis refused to comment further, industry sources blamed the closure on the venue's removed location in Kilburn, its lack of sponsorship, and belt-tightening among gig-goers.

Other venues to recently announce their closure include Oxford Street's 100 Club, the Flowerpot in Kentish Town, Cardiff's Barfly, and London Astoria, which closed last year.

News of the Luminaire's demise prompted an outpouring of support from acts that have played there. "The Luminaire was one of the best venues in London," said Marcus Mumford, lead singer of Mumford & Sons. The band, which appeared on the John Peel stage at Glastonbury this year and performed on David Letterman's US chat show in February, had their first EP launch at The Luminaire in 2008.

"The way it was run was unique too. People coming to gigs were always very aware that they were coming to listen, and it's the only venue I know that painted instructions on the walls to remind people that they were there to watch and listen to music, rather than hold a conversation, which is amazingly helpful if you're playing."

The 100 Club, which will also shut its doors at the end of the year, opened in 1942 and saw The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Buzzcocks play at the venue in 1976. Musicians to join a campaign to save it include Liam Gallagher, Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger, Paul Weller and Carl Barat.

"The problem is, a lot of these venues are in prime real estate locations," said Bernard Doherty, spokesman for the Rolling Stones, whose first performance was at London's Marquee Club in 1962. "If the 100 Club turned into a shoe shop it would make a fortune. There used to be four delis in Soho and now there is one. The same applies to music venues. They are the lifeblood of the music industry but are privy to extortionate licencing fees."

The 100 Club's owner, Jeff Horton, said in September that the venue has been racking up losses of £100,000 a year for the past three years, blaming rent increases of 45 per cent, business rates of £1,000 a week and rising VAT and alcohol duty. Over 6,000 people signed up to a Facebook campaign to save the club within 24 hours.

"We treat artists and audiences as if we don't want them in our buildings and this we do in the name of entertainment," wrote Mr Inglis in a 2008 for IQ Magazine. "We should be ashamed of ourselves. Our small venue circuit is globally derided. Small venues are crumbling. Investment from public or private sources is almost non-existent."

The Flowerpot spent less than two years in business, but saw the likes of Damien Rice, Frank Turner, Billy Bragg, Laura Marling and The Kooks walk out on to its stage. The announcement of the closure of the Cardiff Barfly in September followed 2009's closure of the chain's Glasgow and Liverpool satellites. Again, the news was greeted with shock by fans. A Facebook group set up to call for the venue to reopen allows fans to post their memories of live gigs to a specially-created wall.

"The live music scene is generally very healthy – more people are going to see bands than ever in the UK," said NME news editor Jamie Fullerton. "But although there are a huge amount of bands who sell a hell of a lot of tickets in medium or large venues, the bottom end of the live circuit seems to be being cut off in the process."

Mr Fullerton says large, corporate-sponsored venues are taking some blame for muscling in on the live circuit, edging out independent venues: "This is probably a big factor but the fact that we just don't have a barrage of straight-up toilet circuit bands who'd pack out small venues tearing around the UK right now is another.

"The vicious cycle is that without small venues to play in, how will new bands ever hone their craft and go on to play bigger venues at all? Record Store Day seemed to give a bump to the independent record stores in profile at least – maybe we should see something similar for small independent venues too."

The venues where it all began

* The Rolling Stones played their first formal gig on 12 July 1962 at the Marquee Club on London's Oxford Street, which had opened four years previously. Two years after the gig it moved to another site on Wardour Street, which closed in 1988. Several attempts have been made to revive clubs with the same name but none currently remain open.

* Liverpool's Cavern Club is where Brian Epstein first saw the Beatles play in November 1961, shortly after the band's shows in Hamburg. The club closed in 1973. In April 1984 the club was rebuilt to closely resemble the original, occupying 50 per cent of the original site. That club closed again in the late 1980s and still hosts gigs today.

* Oasis played their first live gig at Manchester's Boardwalk in August 1991. The Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays and The Charlatans all played on the venue's opening night in 1986. Sonic Youth also played there before it closed in 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Above the hat of the toy gibbon, artist Mark Roscoe included a ‘ghost of a bird’ and a hidden message
art
Arts and Entertainment
Alien: Resurrection, Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder
film
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished

TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies

Arts and Entertainment
Australia's Eurovision contestant and former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian

Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable