Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Last night saw over 15 artists gather for one final farewell at the aptly titled Demolition Ball at the London Astoria.
As i sit here writing this, the lights are being pulled down from their rigging, the tiles are being lifted, and salvaged from the roof, and the floorboards are being pulled one by one, from where they have lied for the past 82 years.
All this (also combined with the loss of the adjacent Astoria 2 and classic dive, the metro club) for what exactly, we ask? For the Crossrail extention to Tottenham court tube station, some 30 feet beneath the ground.
My first ever experience of live music, that i can remember, was when i was eleven. I attended a show at the Astoria 2 (then known as the LA 2) which featured all but one of the ex-members of eighties new wave band Japan. There was ivy draped over the PA system and up the walls, dry ice up to everyones abdomens (and up to my head) and the fucking loudest sounding guitars i had ever heard, and have still probably ever heard. It was mesmerising.
Anyone seen the hairspray?
The mystery jets played the astoria 5 times in total. The first (and second) shows, and perhaps the most memorable, were in april of 2005 in support of the Futureheads and thier epic Hounds of love Uk tour. At the time, we had never played in a room which had a balcony in it. It was a huge deal for us. Rumour had it that johnny Marr had come to see us play, so we were all, obviously, on our very, very best behaviour.
We also played there for an NME awards show supporting CSS in spring of last year.
But Closest to our hearts by a long mile, was our performance there on October 23rd last year, for the homecoming of our year long tour in support of 21. Golden Silvers, one of my favorite bands in a long time, opened, and we were joined on stage by the Elysian quartet for a mid-set rendition of Umbrellahead and Bleeding love.
Performing at the Astoria is a dream for anyone who has played in bands or grown up in London.
And thats exactly what that day was.
On wednesday night the Astoria opened its doors one final time to upwards of 2000 lucky young kids.
We had been talking for several weeks amongst ourselves about how we wanted to go down and rip off some signs or steal some door knobs as a way of remembering the place as it once was. So it was a huge suprise, and indeed a magnificent moment when i recieved a text message from Drew Mconnel, of Babyshambles, at about 11pm on Tuesday night asking if we wanted to be a part of the last show.
Twenty four hours later, William, myself and Henry walked out onto the stage and performed a short accoustic set of Flakes and Young love. Ive got to say, it was the shortest and most beautiful 7 minutes of my life.
young love at the demolition ball 16/01/09
Its a sad day for music when the industry, and everyone in it, has to say goodbye to something so significant and totemic as the Astoria. But its an even sadder day for London, as its loosing something which has been so close to its heart and pride for the past 8 decades. And all for a few hundred yards of train track.
If you ask me, whoever it was that finally bent over and allowed this to happen deserves nothing less than a good slap in the face.
X O Blaine
To end on an up note, Henry took his chances and paid a visit to the place (with a builders' jacket and a step ladder) in the early hours of thursday morning and got the our letters from above the entrance (which had been sitting there since we played in October). Which is pretty damn cool wouldnt you say?
looks like 25 years of spelling out the G.A.Y night has taken it's toll..