So here’s me – picture the scene best you can – waiting for tired eyes to crack fully open and for fingers to begin typing in earnest, taking a second or two out of a typically hectic morning in the DiS office to check my MySpace messages/comments/all that jazz (oh shut up, you’ve got one too). What’s top of the bulletins? Save the Astoria. Obviously, I click my way to the facts of the matter.
It turns out that a company of developers, namely Derwent Valley Central, have bought London’s famous Astoria Theatre, the much-used music venue in the centre of our nation’s capital. Word on the street is that said developers plan to convert the venue into shops in 2008 – seems sensible, what with it being on the corner of Oxford Street and all – but despite my ‘not bothered, really’ opinion, it seems many a music fan is rather hot around the collar over this.
A glance around the campaign to save the Astoria’s website - here - reveals the level of disapproval amongst gig-goers in the capital and beyond. “They cannot do this! Why knock the Astoria down of all places?!” posts one guestbook signee; another comments that when Mean Fiddler took control of the venue in 2000, they stated that they would be “securing the future of live music at one of London’s most famous rock ‘n’ roll venues”. Whoops.
Discussion has spilled onto the DiS boards, too – click here to view the comments. “My main concern is that the Astoria is genuinely an important venue, not only steeped in rock history but continuing to help make it,” says one DiS reader. “It is a brilliant venue and I'll be sad if it goes,” adds another, with a third saying, “Every show I've been to there recently has sounded phenomenal”.
Of course, not everyone can agree, but what we want to know from you, via this Tuesday DiScussion, is your opinion on the matter. Is the Astoria a vital component of London’s live music scene, or is Koko, in Camden, a worthy-enough replacement to render the loss of the central venue acceptable? It certainly smells nicer.
What about outside the capital? Cities all over this land of ours continue to lose venues: The Boat Race, in Cambridge, changed from a gritty music venue to a wine bar. Then there’s the Roadmender in Northampton, which simply closed its doors to rock and roll late last year. What venues do you miss, if any, and what can be done to safeguard these small venues, so essential to the development of new music in this country?
You can sign the Astoria petition here.