Independent Venue Week

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Another Monday night, another gig in Central London.

We’re such social butterflies, we’re always* out going to concerts, art galleries, museums, cinemas – you name it.

*not every often.

So when one of Mr B’s few Twitter followers (he’s a bit of a recluse on there, bless him) said before Christmas that he was playing a gig at the Albert Hall, well we had to go, didn’t we?  In all seriousness we don’t really get up to London during the week as all Mr B wants to do at the end of the day working there is get home.   Which means that if he suggests us doing something, it is something he really fancies doing and he rarely picks a dud.

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Tim Burgess (@tim_burgess), frontman of The Charlatans, was the man and it was in the Royal Albert Hall, so what is not to like. We already knew it was the Elgar Room, rather than the main hall, so we knew it would be cosy, and it was – what a great evening.  Plus you can park outside pretty much which means we can do door to door in an hour and a half.

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Perhaps the smallest gig I can remember in a very long time, there were still three acts on the bill and the venue seemed no more than 100 feet across and 60 front to back, so really cosy and intimate yet you are in a building where ALL the greats have played over the years.   The merchandise was on a table at the side, by the coats, covered by a black cloth and it just felt like a village hall gig, which was really refreshing in this corporate age of big money promoters and ticket re-sellers. Watching Russell Walker collect the few unsold albums from the table before heading into the night was a pithy reminder – this is still a business and sometimes you just have to do it yourself.

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Radio royalty in the form of Don Letts was there, drinking in the music and the acts were in the hall too, catching up with old friends before and after they were on stage.   Seeing Tim Burgess’ drummer really getting into Tear (the opening act) was great, and the venue had enough room that you could move about to get whatever view you wanted. Plus a bar, which I may have become familiar with.

How many keyboard players can say they came off the stage at the Royal Albert Hall and then carried their keyboard out too?!

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And if you can watch grown people who just *have* to dance, by themselves mostly, when a certain song comes on…if you can watch that and feel no joy, then you have no soul my friend.

Where the gig was unlike a village hall though, was the production and talent. Part of the Independent Venue Week , this gig typified the theme: big production values, good music with small spaces, in accessible locations.

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Go and find a gig – there’s a list on the website – and see what’s really happening out there, not just what is on iTunes.  Go and reconnect with the 19-year old you for the night.

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