Well it has happened again, the UK proved once more on Saturday night that we are universally disliked across the world! Not really, given inbound tourism stats, but sometimes it feels like it at the annual cheese-fest that is Eurovision! Our entry ‘Joe and Jake’ had a pretty good, catchy song and they performed it with gusto but it just wasn’t enough. We finished 24th (so not last, at least) and we didn’t get nul points (62 isn’t a bad result and Malta even gave us 12 points). But it just wasn’t enough to beat the politically charged Ukrainian entry. Maybe next year, eh?
In the meantime, if you want to hear ‘real’ music (sorry boys!) you might fancy taking a little tour of the UK’s best live music venues….
The 100 Club, London
Nestled in the heart of Oxford Street you will find The 100 Club, a rather grubby unassuming venue, with orange plastic chairs and a sticky floor. With a capacity of just 350, it is small, but wow does it have some stories to tell! Over the last 60 years the stage has played host to The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Sex Pistols. You can get chills just by looking at the stage and imagining the great bands who have made magic happen up there. It is a venue for serious musos and definitely one for the bucket list.
Thekla was an actual cargo ship built in 1959 so it has a history all of its own, but has become truly iconic thanks to its new purpose as a floating music venue. It has an atmospheric main room in the hull and an intimate bar area for smaller performances (which also provide a great vantage point for viewing the city’s skyline). On the outside, there is even a Banksy stencil of a skeleton in a rowing boat. This is a venue for smaller, newer bands so definitely the place to go if you want bragging rights to say “I remember seeing them before they were famous”.
The Cavern Club, Liverpool
It might not host the biggest and best bands anymore but no trip to Liverpool would be complete without a visit to the Cavern Club. Known as the birthplace of The Beatles (and Cilla Black of course) this basement venue is still as atmospheric as it once was, but it’s now more of a tourist hotspot. Staying true to its legacy, the venue has a number of Beatles-inspired acts on its books but also features new up and coming artists too.
Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
When you think about places with an awesome music scene, we know the Midlands isn’t the first place you think of but the Wolverhampton Civic is regarded as a world class venue by bands like Blur and the Manic Street Preachers. Its acoustics alone make it worth the trip and frequently has big name musicians playing (oh and David Essex). It also draws big name comedians and in the next few months has Jimmy Carr, Al Murray and Catherine Tate lined up to get the Black Country chuckling.
The Sage, Gateshead
This big shiny slug was opened in 2004 and is rapidly becoming an iconic venue for live music and concerts. Situated in Gateshead, The Sage has put the North East on the map for bands and musicians from the across the world. As well as rock and pop acts, the venue is also hosting a number of classical events this year and champions young musicians and singers.
Moles is one of Bath’s best kept secrets, which is surprising given that such massive names as The Smiths, The Cure, The Killers, Ed Sheeran, Bastille and Oasis have all played there. The venue opened in 1978 and quickly established legendary status for hosting acts from across the world. Despite a devastating fire in 2014, the venue reopened in November last year and continues to champion new bands.
The Leadmill is Sheffield’s longest running music venue. Since it opened in 1980 it has hosted global superstars like Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, Kasabian, The Stone Roses and Kings of Leon. In fact, the group Franz Ferdinand once said that playing the Leadmill was a ‘right of passage’ and over the years many large acts have chosen to play there instead of a much larger venue.
Deaf Institute, Manchester
We couldn’t write about music venues without including Manchester – home to one of the most vibrant music scenes in the world. There are loads of fantastic live venues but The Deaf Institute based in a beautiful Victorian building with a domed ceiling, aged wood and lashings of velvet has quickly established itself as favourite amongst locals. It is based in the heart of the Manchester Metropolitan campus and also houses several funky bars and party venues, not to mention a giant disco ball. Mad for it!
Let the muso in you go free – with Springsteen’s 2016 tour hitting the UK next week a summer of music is about to begin!