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2006: The Astoria's final year?

By sizemore Last edited 130 months ago
2006: The Astoria's final year?
astoria.jpg

The Astoria, one of the very best British venues and a favorite haunt of any live music loving Londoner is apparently doomed:

Late last week, development company Derwent Valley struck a deal with Mean Fiddler worth almost £24m, and are rumoured to be planning to turn the aging theatre into a new development of shops, office space and flats. Derwent already own much of the land and buildings surrounding the Astoria, and could develop the entire block into a retail complex.

This is just too depressing for words.

The building has had numerous uses through the years, starting out as a Crosse & Blackwell Pickle factory before becoming a strip joint and music hall. It's the gigs though that has made the place famous as one of London's premiere stages. Nirvana, Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Metallica, Oasis, Prince, U2, Eminem and The White Stripes are listed on the Mean Fiddler website, but just about every metal band worth its salt has divided the Astoria audience in two to see which side could scream the loudest. And it's still playing host to more innovative acts as Mike Patton's Peeping Tom are due there next month...

Mean Fiddler acquired the London Astoria in May 2000, securing the future of live music at one of London’s most famous rock ‘n’ roll venues - secured for six years until selling out to the highest bidder, because Londoners NEED more places to shop.

Where now will all the goth and emo kids sit from 2 in the afternoon instead of going to sixth form college? Are archeologists going to be allowed access to preserve and remove the reservoir of Lemmy sweat from the stage? Where will girls who should know better congregate to suck off roadies? And what about the cries of the poor ticket touts?

Favourite gig at the Astoria? Looking forward to seeing it replaced with a GAP or something? Let us know below.

Last Updated 23 June 2006

Rob

The first gig I ever attended at the Astoria was the Manic Street Preachers December 21, 1994 - which turned out to be Richard Edwards last gig with the band (weirdly I went with 3 strangers, friends-of-frends who I've never seen again).

I didn't live in London at the time and I didn't know what to expect from the Astoria and I remember thinking how great it was having such a brilliant venue smack bang in the centre of town (I was used to either pokey pubs or giant, out of town stadiums).

There was something wrong with the sound equipment that night and I think the bands ears were bleeding, so they finished the set by smashing all the instruments. I thought it was the coolest fucking thing I'd ever seen.

That night, on the way back up north in the car I was in the passenger seat desperately trying to stay awake in case the driver nodded off and killed us all on the M1.

Ken

Ahh, the Astoria. Scene of my first ever Blur gig, in 1993, just as they had released the anti-grunge and very British album 'Modern Life is Rubbish'. It's no exaggeration to say that that particular gig was life-changing for me, opening my eyes up to the true power of live music.

Goodbye, dear Astoria. God knows what fucked up planning laws allow a musical icon to be replaced by even more offices and shops in a part of London already saturated with them.

Mike

Not the first by a longshot but Tomahawk at the Astoria was one of the most memorable gigs I've been to in London. Mike Patton in his cop uniform behind an array of microphones, keyboards and assorted noise-making equipment. He set them up himself earlier and was annoyed by kids at the front screaming Faith No More songs at him so took the time to snort up something thick and nasty from the back of his throat to spit on them. God knows what the inside of his gas mask looked like by the end of the night. Jokes about the weather, lessons on how to suck American cock and slapping the Astoria security guys with a rubber hand he borrowed from Kevin Rutmanis... Turned out the security guys had refused him entry a few hours before the gig and he was still annoyed. Towards the end of 'Laredo', Patton took out his cock and pissed over the security guys from the stage. When he had finished with that he started to beat off in the direction of the rest of the band... and things from that point on went a little crazy.

Oh and a few years ago when Henry Rollins dusted off all the old Black Flag stuff on the Rise Above tour. All proceeds going to the West Memphis Three. Hell of a night.

Aaron

I'm sorry to be rude.. but are you joking? The Astoria is a dump and a death trap - and good riddence to it. The number of bands I've seen ruined in that venue.. The fact that you seem to admire it indicates only the dearth of decent venues of that size in London - Glasgow, for example, leaves London in the shade in this regard.

Geoff

You're also forgetting it hosts G.A.Y., the UK's biggest gay club. It's not my cup of tea at all, but as it appeals most of all to the youngest gays, it provides many people who've just come out with their first friendly gay clubbing experience. There is nowhere quite like it.

Also as G.A.Y., it's hosted most of the world's biggest pop stars, including Madonna.

Mike

Aaron - Not enough venues of this size in London, but it's a good thing this one is closing down because we can all go to Glasgow instead? What zone is that in again? 1006?

The fact that it's a dump is part of the charm. Who wants to go to a gig that doesn't stink of death and piss and sweat? That's the whole point.

Geoff - we're hoping to get a similar post up about the loss of G.A.Y. sometime soon. We expect it will find a new venue, but part of the Astoria's appeal is its location :/

M@

Wasn't it going to be knocked down anyway, to make way for a Crossrail station? (If they ever build it.)

http://www.egigs.co.uk/index.p...

Timmy D

Oh, man, the Astoria may be my favourite venue in the 5+ years I've been in the UK. It's just the right size for bands that are big enough but not too big. It's dark and dingy and nasty and absolutely everything a rock venue should be. I've seen the Dead 60s, Gogol Bordello, Elbow, Nine Inch Nails, The Arcade Fire, the Datsuns, Our Lady Peace, Ministry, Teenage Fanclub, ...And You Will Know Us By The rail Of Dead, the Cooper Temple Clause, the Coral, Monster Magnet, Violent Femmes, and probably more I'm forgetting.

The Daily Growl

I've had many a fine evening at the Astoria over my nine years in London, but I'm not really that sorry to see it go, for some of the reasons above. It's certainly one of the shittier venues of its size. Also, the two main types of gig it hosts - goth/emo kids' rock, and ageing rockers, both fall outside my area of interest.

I will miss the box office though (for buying Mean Fiddler tickets sans booking fee).

typical!

yet more proof of the crap-evilness of mean fiddler...what a bunch of c*nts.

jakko wakko

good riddance to bad rubbish.

hate the place.

Rach

i'm gonna miss heading down to there for gigs and hanging outside in soho square before the show. the location was awesome, cos i could down (from glasgow) for a day, and do some shopping while i was there, get some grub and go to the show, and there was never any problem getting back to a hotel, or for going out afterwards. i'm really gonna miss it, and the pelican when it's gone. also, is the mean fiddler venue being sold too, as it's part of it?
so long astoria.

namesy

As a venue its not one I really like (always crammed to the rafters with kids, unbearably hot and in some areas the acoustics are a bit naff). However it is well known and bands come to England to play there so it can only be bad for the London music scene to lose it.

Dave Meeha

It is a Shit Hole, If the Mean fiddler has any brains it will find something else to replace it.
On a professional level I have worked in EVERY major U.K venue.The manager at the Astoria is a complete TWAT.Other staff are also idiots.It stinks backstage also.

Minki

Yes I agree that it totally needs a revamp, but do we really need more shops and offices instead of a historic venue? We already lost the Marquee to some superpub, and now the Hammersmith Palais has gone as well ...

I understand that Crossrail may be about to compulsory purchase anyway, but even then, an equivalent venue that can take over needs to be built then!

www.savetheastoria.com

Sten42880

My mind is like a bunch of nothing, but I guess it doesn't bother me. I haven't been up to anything recently. I've pretty much been doing nothing to speak of.

Rich

Ok so it's not the most modern of venues but The Astoria has a certain charm, and it's in a great location. It'll be a shame to see it go - what with the recent demise of The Intrepid Fox there'll be no reason to head in to town any more. Bah!

Talia

what? has the intrepid fox closed again??

Sten2023

I haven't been up to much these days. Today was a loss. Nothing seems important. I've just been letting everything happen without me these days.