The live music industry has been hit hard by the Coronavirus Pandemic and there are many small venues, crucial to giving talented musicians a platform to showcase their work, which sadly won’t recover financially from it. Such venues, dotted all over the UK, have facilitated and supported a growing cultural framework for years by introducing generations of people to new musical movements, artists, and more. Whilst I wish I could write about the contribution of every single venue in the UK, an impressive feat that would take most of my life to complete, I have instead settled on writing about three which I believe showcase both their importance to music history and to the growth of the live music industry today. I have given a short introduction to each below.
Moles Nightclub, Bath
Founded by Phil Andrews, who also happens to co-own the Jane Austen Museum, the club opened on New Year’s Eve in 1978. The venue was initially for folk and jazz artists. However with the arrival of disco, Moles had to modernise in order to keep up with the rapidly changing music scene. The range of music on offer at Moles soon grew to incorporate live rock music. By the late 1980’s Moles had established itself as a popular destination for touring musicians. Phil extended his club to include a recording studio which saw the likes of Elbow grace it’s doorway.
Now, Moles Nightclub has become a favourite for students with an array of varying music tastes. Whilst Cheesy Tuesday’s will accommodate anyone with a love for the noughties, Wednesday nights are now dedicated to rock and metal, for anyone with a taste for the heavier stuff. The club also has brilliant links with music students and upcoming bands. Moles provides a platform for new talent to showcase their creative portfolio, network, and grow. I myself have discovered many great artists through going to various events.
De Montfort Hall, Leicester
De Montfort Hall was built by the Corporation of Leicester and finished in 1913. The hall has had some notable guests over the years. In the 1960’s both The Beatles and Bob Dylan sold out the venue, an accomplishment that other artists such as The Rolling Stones were unable to achieve. The hall was also a stop on David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust Tour in 1973.
Nowadays De Montfort Hall is not only used to showcase live music. It has become a hub for opera, ballet, and religious festivals. Until recently, the grounds of De Montfort Hall hosted Simon Says Festival. Created in partnership with a few of Leicester’s independent music venues, the festival gave homegrown talent the opportunity to connect with wider audiences.
The Cavern Club, Liverpool
We all know where I’m going with this one. The venue is probably most well known for playing host to The Beatles, but I’m going to give a little run down of its history which begins before that. In 1957 the venue opened its doors for the first time. Named after the French club Le Caveau De La Huchette Alan Sytner, the club’s owner, wanted it to become a popular venue for Jazz music. His plan was pretty successful with many Jazz legends performing at the venue such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Marie Knight, and Big Bill Broonzy. They also hosted the Quarry Men Skiffle Group which both John Lennon and later Paul McCartney were members of. The 1960’s saw the takeover of Beat Music and the rise of The Beatles. Their first performance took place on the 9th of February 1961 albeit with a slightly different line up since the group were initially a quintet with Stuart Sutcliffe on Bass and Pete Best on Drums. It was at one of their performances that Brian Epstein spotted them. He became their first manager and secured them their first record contract. However, when the band appeared in 1962, Sutcliffe and Best were no longer apart of the line-up with Ringo Starr making his first appearance on drums. Their last performance as a group took place on Sunday the 3rd of August 1963. After a short closure in 1966 the club was reopened by Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The newly refurbished club had new renovations including a souvenir shop and café. The 1970’s saw the likes of Status Quo, Queen, and Suzi Quatro grace the venue.
The 1980’s saw The Cavern Club enter a very turbulent time. On the 9th of December 1980, Beatles fans all over the United Kingdom woke up to the news that John Lennon had been fatally shot. This saw the music venue become a site of mourning and remembrance for many local fans. The club also saw a series of redevelopments with the creation of a bar, restaurant, and shop. The 1990’s saw the venue change hand’s with Cavern City Tours becoming new owners of the club. The space continued to be a springboard for new talent well into the 2000’s. Today, the Cavern Club still promotes live music but also works as a heritage sight, paying homage to its long and varied history.
I have given a very brief overview of each venue above (I really didn’t do The Cavern Club justice!), but I hope that my summaries have given an idea of how they’ve been influential in helping music to thrive.