Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Astoria Refurbishment Well On Target...

Whilst on my (very) brief visit to London on Monday, I was delighted to see the ongoing improvement work to one of the best venues in London, The Astoria..... Ugh


(taken from almost the exact same spot on Monday):

Renovation: (Workmen painstakingly dismantle and preserve the
original features of the 80+ year old Astoria)

Look how odd the corner of Tottenham Court\
Charring Cross and Oxford Street looks these days
(taken from outside the Dominion Theatre, on the other side of the road):

Still, I can't wait to try out the new train station.....



John Medd said...

London is littered with 'em: The Marquee, Fulham Greyhound, The Nashville, The Rock Garden, WAGG, to name but a few. And that's before you go into the sticks. Hemel Hempstead Pavilion, West Runton Pavilion, Leicester's Princess Charlotte, The Sandpiper in Nottingham, Cromwells in Norwich etc etc. You could write a book Piley. Do you want a co-author?!

Furtheron said...

I was there a couple of weeks back.. I came in from Holborn and walked through Denmark Street... that took way too long as ever :-)

Came out at Charing Cross Road turned right and just stopped.

What a disgrace! The Astoria has a special place in my heart... great Marillion gig on the Marbles tour that I went too only days out of rehab and proved I could go there and not drink. Alter Bridge gigs with my son ... SOAD... etc.

My son has a soft spot for it too - first gig he did with his mates at 16 was there to see Stone Sour... he headbutted some guy in the mosh pit... Brilliant!

What a loss! Frankly they should have pulled down CenterPoint I worked for 2 years on the top floor of that carbunkle and losing that vs the Astoria would have got my vote any day

Mondo said...

The Cavern in Liverpool (now a car park), Wigan Casino (now a shopping centre) The Roxy in London (now a Speedo superstore)- are other musical landmarks flattened by the same short sighted nit-wittery.

Johnny Rotten nailed it when he sang "your future dream is a shopping scheme"

FitForNothing said...


Didn't know the Astoria had gone. I have many great memories from there.

By the way John, Leicester's Princess Charlotte lives on. It is scheduled to reopen later this summer. It will no longer host gigs of the size it did but will be a bar again and host smaller concerts. At least it hasn't been demolished.

Meanwhile Leicester is getting an 02 Academy... nice.

John Medd said...

Mondo - this may be of interest. All I know is that it's 2 floors below ground and is the hottest club I've ever been in!

John Medd said...

FFN - that's great news. I've seen some cracking gigs at The Charlotte: Joe Strummer, Carbon Silicon, Nick Heyward, Squeeze, The Slackers, Dodgy etc etc.

Cocktails said...

Bloody hell, that went quickly! It seems like only a few weeks ago it was still standing.

But at least there will soon be some more shops up there - something that the West End of London desparately needs.

Heff said...

Quite the facelift they've got going on there !

Piley said...

I don't know, what’s the matter with you lot?? Getting all misty eyed and mournful about some bricks and mortar??? As if a lowly 'concert venue' was anything to hold dear ;-)

Yes indeedy, only in this country does the poor ol music venue get treated with such disrespect.

Look at some of the names in those lists... how were the Cavern, the Marquee, the WAGG (great call that one JM), the Metro, the Astoria etc etc all allowed to be torn down with such little regard? Had Dickens stayed in one of these places, or Shakespeare written a sonnet in the upstairs attic, then these would have blue plaques outside, and no doubt getting £100M national heritage grants, to ensure their upkeep and preservation for generations to come... I mean honestly, the Marquee must be THE most legendary rock venue isn’t it? Yet it was quietly snuffed out without a fuss. It was outrageous enough when it got moved from Wardour St to Charring Cross, but then that was quietly removed too.

As these venues were nothing more than the Birthplace of a few old tin-pot bands, and the venues many of us grew up in, they are cast aside without a second thought. Who on earth could possibly be interested in a music venue? That's councils all over for you I’m afraid... They just don't 'get it'.

And as FFN points out, councils genuinely think that they are helping by replacing some dirty, skanky, sticky carpeted atmosphere laden venue with a clinical sponsored new venue with the atmosphere of a hospital (and that’s if you are lucky enough to even get a replacement venue in the first place… most just become lovely shops).

I've said it before I know, but in one fail swoop we lost 3 great venues there (Astoria, Astoria II and the Metro Club), and more importantly 3 completely DIFFERENT venues (both in size and style), servicing a multitude of punters and allowing bands at varying stages to ply their wares.

Cocktails I think you are right, it's gone very quickly, it was certainly still there the last time I came up which was about 5 or 6 weeks agoish... I was shocked to see that vast empty space. Oh and I'm not even sure if there will be shops there, isn't it just going to be one ridiculously large train station?? One that when you get out of, you realise there’s' nothing to do or see any more... funny that.

Thanks for all the comments everyone.


Piley said...

Oh and BTW, the Cavern can say what they like about The Cavern, it may well be "the most famous venue in the world", but alas this is still NOT the original venue. I've been there and it's plastic 1984 re-creation built in roughly the same place, in roughly the same style, but NONE of it is the original, which was incredibly just 'filled in'. Simply built just to cash in on tourists...

now what a goldmine preserving the original would have been. So short sigted... the original wasn't closed and 'filled in' until 1973 - you'd think by then (the Fabs already done and dusted) someone would have realised the importance.

Furtheron said...

@Piley - you are so right. Like you say if I had a plan to knock a dual carriage way through the Albert Hall, the Royal Opera House and the Palladium they'd go nuts.

But sadly maybe years from now they'll be school trips to a recreation of the Marquee and the Astoria (like my daughter going to the Globe) to show kids what is was all about in the last 20th / early 21st Century.

Hey the word veri is angstrep - I kid not these things are rigged convinced of it

Piley said...

thanks Further - yeah I don't quite get it, music isn't seen as a 'PROPER' art form in this country for whatever reason (not by 'the suits' anyway). Just somethin that kids waste their time at... no need to preserve anything there then.

Heff said...

NEW POST 06/01/10, BIOTCH !

Heff said...

American Central Standard time, of course, lol !

Kolley Kibber said...

Aw, it's finally gone, has it? It's decline was a slow and terrible thing, like watching the family labrador turn from a bounding, enthusiastic pup into a shambling incontinent old hound with shaky back legs.

So many of the best ever Blue Aeroplanes gigs, ditto That Petrol Emotion...but the last time I went there (can't even remember who I saw) it had turned into a miserable, filthy dump patrolled by vile staff who hated all their punters. I said then I'd never go back there, and now I never shall. What a crying shame.

Piley said...

Heff - new one up now Sir... just for you!

ISBW - know what you mean, those doormen were getting rather meatheady towards the end. Brain-deads aside, it was still just about the best venue in London - the perfect size, a great view from almost anywhere and so easy to get to (my heart sinks when a band I want to see announces Shepherds Bush Empire... ugh, what a schlap)


Martin said...

Went past there a few weeks back and it just didn't feel right. I only managed to get there a couple of times (I think I spent the rest of the time saving up to buy a drink in there). Got great memories of both gigs though. Just shows what happens when you let people with money and power and shit for brains make important decisions.

Piley said...

yeah, it is an odd feeling isn't it? Such a vast space. Still won't be long before there's a nice new train station there, woo-hoo!