Monday, 22 December 2008

So long Astoria

Well, this is it folks. London's Astoria, a live performance venue since 1976, is to close its doors for good on Thursday 15th January.

In March this year, then mayor Ken Livingstone confirmed rumours that the theatre was to be bulldozed to make way for the Crossrail underground line, despite loud protests and a petition of more than 35,000 signatures. Livingstone alleged at the time that a new live music venue would be built in the area to replace the Astoria, but will Boris Johnson honour that promise.... don't hold your breath.

In a double blow, nearby flea pit the Metro is also to close. Organizer of their infamous Blow Up night, Paul Tunkin, told NME, "At present we are looking for new premises to relocate the venue to but have yet to find one suitable. Ultimately it is another nail in the coffin for central London's live music and club scene."

You'd been hard pushed to find a music fan in greater London who has never been to the Astoria, first built as pickle factory and converted into a cinema in 1927. The legendary venue has hosted early gigs by the likes of Nirvana and Radiohead and is first choice for big names such as the Rolling Stones who are looking for a more intimate spot than their usual stadiums and cattle sheds.

Barry Hyde, the lead singer of the Futureheads, spoke thus of the venue: "Venues should be dirty, they should be a bit smelly because smelly things happen in venues. Sweaty people had fun and the Astoria was always something you’d look forward to."


And the last ever party at the Astoria is going to be hosted by..... Manumission?!? You mean infamous Ibiza party night Manumission? Really?!? Apparently there's going to be "a fusion of rock and dance acts" (for "dance" read "90s era rave") and "a carnival of cabaret", presumably with their standard "bleeding edge sexuality". See you there... or not.

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