Urban75 Home About Offline BrixtonBuzz Contact

Let's hear it for the 12 Bar Club, central London

I've been going there on and off for about 20 years :( Haven't been much in the past decade to be fair, but I popped in a couple of weeks ago and it was still great.
Good piece in the Standard (of all places)
A 32-second YouTube clip is all that remains of Adele’s first London gig. It’s 2006 and she’s singing Painting Pictures, accompanying herself on guitar. The sound quality is poor but there’s no mistaking the Tottenham soul in her voice, husky with Marlboro Lights and teenage regret. “Go and see her live while she’s still playing intimate venues,” advises one commenter. “You won’t get the chance once her debut album is released!”

It was shot at the 12 Bar Club on Denmark Street — recently described as a “dirty and neglected back alley” by Orms, the developer. It will soon be demolished to help bring 3,000 square metres of retail space to the Tottenham Court Road Crossrail station.

There will be a Renzo Piano tower overlooking it. There will be a “cultural space” of some kind. But there won’t be another 12 Bar.

For a musician starting out, the 12 Bar was the place you really wanted to play. It was central. It was intimate. It was discerning. The promoters cared about the line-up, which meant the audiences did too, which in turn meant that it was one of the few places you could get paid — a virtuous circle.

That’s why people like Jeff Buckley played the 12 Bar. That’s why you can’t just replace it with an Arts Council commission and a Five Guys burger joint.

Then again, all the London music venues that have been culled in 2014 were unique. We’ve lost Madame Jo Jo’s in Soho (spurious licensing issues); the Buffalo Bar in Islington (unsympathetic new landlord); the Vibe Bar on Brick Lane (more manufactured licensing issues); the Joiners Arms on Hackney Road (demolished for luxury flats). In 2015? It will be a miracle if the Troubadour survives the deluxe razing of Earls Court. The 100 Club may soon be the last proper venue in central London — and that was only saved by a corporate sponsor.

“People think I’m being dramatic, but it’s all under threat,” says Mark Davyd of the Music Venues Trust. As small businesses with troublesome licences and night-time custom, gig venues are generally deemed not worth the bother by councils.

Still, their demise is not inevitable. Culture and progress are not mutually exclusive — and there are prosaic reasons we’ve had so many closures in one year.

New planning laws have made it easier for developers to change a building’s purpose, from cultural to residential, for example. Currently, if a developer decides to build flats next to a pre-existing music venue, it’s the venue that must bear the costs of any soundproofing as a single complaint from a resident begins a costly legal process. Adopting an “agent of change” principle would mean the developers have to take responsibility. That’s only fair.

If we don’t protect this, we’re not just losing history. We’re losing the future. “London is wasting its reputation as a cultural capital,” warns Davyd. “Music venues are at the vanguard — it could be theatres next.”

But a promoter I know is even more pessimistic. “We are turning into Paris,” he complains.


you know, i don't think i've ever been there. 20 years i've been going to gigs in london and never there. looks like a damn fool mistake on my part, judging by this thread.
Here's how it looks now:






That little intimate balcony spot is probably my favorite place in any venue. So many good memories from that place.
I took some people to it last week after a Christmas party, rather than go to some shitty soho cheeseclub at £10 a head, and every single person said "this is a brilliant place I'm so glad we came here".
It does feel like everywhere decent is either being sold up by landlords to developers, or if not the council shuts it down on spurious pretexts so that it can be bought by developers. But hey we get more unaffordable fucking flats and pointless fucking hotels right?
Last edited:
ooff was this really 5 years ago. my bass is still in one piece anyway. i think The Saudis, pre fat white family band, were also playing this night
It is EVERYTHING a rock and roll venue should be. Get there before it goes else you'll kick yourself!

This used to be the view from the back. No heads!

View attachment 65228
tbf the no heads view was a little bit shit

whats the history of the building anyone know? - wasnt it some kind of old forge?
also this was the doggiest of london slums back in the 1800s - rookery of st giles
still had an air of those vibes about it

Holloway Road is getting quite a few live music/alternative venues these days. And much as it's always a shame when a decent venue goes there are always new places launching too.
Holloway Road is getting quite a few live music/alternative venues these days. And much as it's always a shame when a decent venue goes there are always new places launching too.
which are they salem? I can think of the Garage only...oh and Rocket still exists (the sign is still up) but doesnt seem to have anything on
The latest incarnation of the Intrepid fox up by Archway, The Big Red, Nambucca, Filthy's and another one I can't put my finger on right now.
Top Bottom