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
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

booksReview: Lena Dunham, Not That Kind of Girl
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
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.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments