Restoring London!

I’ve been reviewing gigs for so many years in London that it’s always a nice surprise to discover new venues.

I have my favourites – for example, I love the HMV Forum in Kentish Town and have quite a soft spot for the laid-back Underbelly in Hoxton, which reminds me of a basement jazz club I visited in Paris many years ago – but on Saturday, I ended up at the Bush Hall; for the first time. It’s been running as a music venue since 2001 and apparently everyone from Nick Cave to The Killers has played – Kate Moss even appeared at a fashion show there last year- so I was feeling a bit behind!

Anyway, it’s a rather regal-looking place that was originally build as a ballroom and is decked out with chandeliers, intricate plasterwork and something that’s very rare in music venues: a carpet (most places are graced with sticky floors!) The sound was good, the lighting worked well and the band I was reviewing put on a great show.

I find it really sad when venues are knocked down – I still miss the Astoria and it’s smaller, sister site – and it seems like so many are going at the moment. I suppose this is why I feel a small thrill when I discover a new one! I’m not certain whether it’s age-related but I do seem to be revelling in unusual buildings at the moment and the Bush Hall isn’t the only hidden gem around there. On the other side of the green from the grand Shepherd’s Bush Empire is the rather unassuming Ginglik; which was originally the site of some Edwardian public toilets. I went there once for a launch party many years ago and can happily report that, contrary to what one might expect, it was pleasantly fragrant!

London – and I’m sure other cities – has so many abandoned buildings that I find it rather inspiring to discover one that’s been converted or restored to former glory. What are your favourite venues?

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