Live music campaigner: Henry Scott-Irvine outside 12 Bar Club in Denmark Street. Picture: Jerry Tremaine
Published: 5 February, 2016
by JOE COOPER and ALINA POLIANSKAYA
THE 12 Bar Club has closed down less than a year after being forced out of its Denmark Street home and relocating to Holloway.
The venue was forced to move from Soho in January 2015 and took up residency at Phibbers pub on the corner of Liverpool Road.
Campaigner Henry Scott-Irvine, who leads the Save Tin Pan Alley group, said: “It is usually the death knell of a venue if it moves, especially if it moves to another zone.”
A statement from the club read: “We tried to make it work in north London and Joyzi did an amazing job bringing in quality nights. We would like to thank all the staff, acts and customers who have been a part of the 12 Bar Club experience in Holloway.
“We are in talks at present with regards to opening up a new venue so watch this space for further news.”
Owners Enterprise Inns terminated the lease and boarded up the bar on Tuesday.
Since opening in Denmark Street in 1994 the 12 Bar Club has been a key breaking ground for unsigned artists and it hosted the likes of Adele, the Libertines and the late Jeff Buckley early in their careers.
Mark Davyd, chief executive of the Music Venue Trust, told the West End Extra it was yet another blow to live music in London. The trust played a key part in a report commissioned last year by the Mayor of London into the loss of the capital's live music venues.
“This means there will be another 15 bands in London who won’t be playing their first gig,” he said.
The number of grassroots venues – those that take risks putting on new bands – in London has dropped by almost 50 per cent since 2007, from 163 to just 83. Mr Davyd questioned whether the 12 Bar Club was ever going to be viable in Holloway instead of a more central location.
He added: “But this speaks to a wider problem – what kind of city do we want London to become? One that is made up of endless luxury apartments that nobody lives in or one that has room for cultural spaces?”
Mr Scott-Irvine said that although some dedicated fans did follow the venue over to Holloway Road there were many issues with the location. He said that many found it more difficult to get home from north London, compared with the West End, with its constant stream of night buses. Competition from existing live music venues, such as Big Red and Nambucca is also likely to have played a part, he said, especially with the 12 Bar reducing its live music nights from as many as seven a week in the West End, to around three a week. He said: “It just goes to prove my point. Every city needs a beating heart... they moved something to an arterial road and it died within a year. This is why they need music in the middle of London.”
Enterprise Inns were unavailable for comment as we went to press.
Fears for future of The Forge at Soho site
THE former 12 Bar Club in Denmark Street is to become the entrance of a new underground music venue.
Concerns have been raised about plans to lift The Forge – the Grade II-listed former stage of the 12 Bar – and place a “concrete raft” beneath it to move it out the way while construction works take place.
Historic England’s Richard Parish told Henry Scott-Irvine that “the proposal requires some careful engineering, but is certainly possible.” But worries remain about whether the historic building will survive the process.