Magazine Archive


Thank you for the music

I’m a fervent gig goer. Don’t let my Abba-tastic headline fool you – I’m regularly at various venues around the country (sometimes abroad) checking out global and domestic artists, old and new, enjoying the tunes and absorbing the atmosphere.

When we’ve written previously about how and why pubs should go about hosting live music events, we haven’t allowed for too many direct comparisons between what pubs and bars produce, compared to venues that solely host live shows. I think the reason for this is that while a pub can morph into a gig venue, it’s not easy for a gig venue to replicate the type of hospitality experience that’s so wonderfully delivered in the modern on-trade.

This is changing at a rapid rate. A couple of years ago, while watching a band at a well-known venue in north London, I had to discard a pint of beer after one sip – at least I think it was beer. Flat and warm with a chemical nose, I wondered what on earth had been through those lines in the past, quickly realising that I’d rather not know the last time they were cleaned. Fast-forward to July this year and to a gig at The Garage in Islington. I’d heard that it had been through a bit of a makeover and reopened in January, but hadn’t anticipated what a difference there would be. It felt fresh, it felt cared for, and, most importantly, it had an impressive beer selection, which hundreds of music lovers were enjoying.

The Garage is run by DHP Family, which currently operates a nationwide estate of live music venues. Some of you may have heard of The Borderline in Soho, or Rock City in Nottingham – just two examples of successful sites overseen by MD George Akins and his team. In this issue, Charlie Whitting talks to Akins about how the live music industry has changed over the last 20 years and what lessons pubs can learn from this (page 20).

For the truth is, there are lessons to be learned from the world of live music – it is such an important part of your customers’ social expectations that there’s no reason why pubs and bars can’t occasionally tick that box too. So, to DHP and all the other venues that host and support this scene, I do say thank you for the music (and for the increase in beer quality). Keep up the wonderful work.

Tristan O’Hana - Group Editor