Friday, 14 March 2008

say hello, say goodbye

Sad, if not surprising, to see confirmation that the Astoria will be demolished as a necessary cost of the CrossRail developments. Mine is one of those 35, 000 signatures.

The Astoria is my favourite large-ish venue, and I can't count the number of excellent gigs and good nights out I've had under it's less-than-glamorous roof. (Meanwhile the Astoria 2 (by whatever name) has hosted some much loved bands I've really enjoyed, but there's nothing about the space there that means anything to me - and I don't know why that is.) Both the Roundhouse and Union Chapel have recently reminded me how much I enjoy them as venues, and there are about half a dozen smaller spaces that I think of fondly, but of the venues in the Astoria's capacity range, none of them come close for me.

It is positive, though, to see the commitment to a new venue in the same central location.

Part of the reason I'm so sad to see the Astoria go is the building and the memories, true, but a good part of it is practical. For example, I quite like seeing bands at Brixton, once I'm inside, but it's a royal pain to get home from. All the other similarly sized venues in the capital - even the ones that are desperately practical for me personally - have that same problem for a large proportion of their punters. Meanwhile, TCR is good and central for everyone - walking distance to the main overground stations, a short stroll to the night bus hub that is Trafalgar Square, tube routes towards all four compass points... If they put something with facilities like the Hackney Ocean in that location, and I think they're onto a winner - and we'll soon build up the patina of sweat and memories on the new place, right?

Fortunately, all this is several years off, thanks to the oh-so-zippy speed of development, so there's time for a few more shows before the curtain comes down for good.

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