And now for news just in. It’s just been announced that the Bull & Gate, our much loved K-Town bastion of indie rock, will cease operating as a live venue on May 4th. The entire building has been sold to the Young’s chain and will be closed for refurbishment, to reopen as a “pub restaurant” later in the summer. Young’s, incidentally, also own Geronimo, the chain that comprises two other gastropubs in NW5 – The Lion & Unicorn and Lord Palmerston.
From Blur to the Manic Street Preachers, Carter USM to Coldplay, zillions of bands have trooped through its doors. In fact, some people even reckon Nirvana supported L7 there. Says Andy Macleod of current promoters Club Fandango: “Since 1980 a small, slightly smelly, part of the Kentish Town Road has been a home-from-home for hundreds of young hopefuls seeking to make their way in the musical world. Consider that for a while in the ‘80s the Camden Falcon, Finsbury Park’s Sir George Robey and the Bull & Gate were the cool places to play in North London. Then consider that neither of those other venues exist any more. And then consider that the Bull & Gate has bullishly spent the past three decades just being…the Bull & Gate. Happily, this means that it never went out of fashion because, for the people who loved going there, it was never in fashion.
“And, in a way, just as important as the bands were the punters. At its very best the Bull & Gate was a meeting point for the fraggle rockers, the indie shysters, the gothic dreamers, the popstarship troopers; it gave the loners a home and the hopeless a cause, because these people were part of Generation Vexed. And now the music industry is littered with those dreamers as the fraggle rockers and indie shysters grew up to become record company bosses, radio DJs, live agents, press officers, journalists and, of course, gig promoters.”
We’ve certainly seen our fair share of gigs there in the last twenty years. Not to mention a slew of nights more recently at Club Fandango, who took over the diary back in June 2010. The irony, says Andy, is that “having weathered the storm of free gigs and hipster swinging out of East London, having battled through five years of recession and having fought against the tide of depression rolling over the guitar-gripping side of the music industry throughout this decade the venue is going to be taken down by a gastropub.”
The last gig will be Sat 4th May and Fandango are planning a month long Spanish-style funeral through April so people can come, raise a glass and pay their respects. “We might see if Coldplay want to play on the roof as the bulldozer comes in,” says Andy. Metaphorically speaking, of course. The building is Grade II-listed, after all.
What do you think of the news? Is it really too late? And why not leave your memories of the Bull & Gate below.