The Astoria's Swansong
Its a sad day.
Tonight is the last, EVER, gig at The Astoria in London before it gets demolished to make way for a cross-town railroad. The venue has played host to nearly every British band that have become massive and to quite a few foreigners too. It was a landmark gig for any band to play the Astoria, a sign that you had made it, as it was the perfect size (around 2000 capacity) for an upcoming band on the brink of success. Where are these bands going to play now?
I haven't actually been to a gig there, or at its smaller sister venue The Meanfiddler (which is also being removed), since 2005 but the sight of its fluorescent red sign and a line of eager fans waiting outside its doors, is one that I will sorely miss.
The first time I set foot in the venue was for what now sounds like a massive line-up: Muse supported by Coldplay! Nowadays two of the biggest bands in the world but in 2000 things weren't that way. Muse had released their debut album Showbiz and played early versions of both Plug In Baby and Newborn. Coldplay hadn't even released Parachutes yet and were causing a buzz with their single Yellow. The performance's were amazing, even with the Astoria's standard bad sound. Matt Bellamy ended up trashing the drum kit and lying in its remains for ages before leaving the stage.
I remember feeling so close to the bands, even though there were probably hundreds of people in between me and them. The floor was dark and sticky and it seemed very easy to get lost in the building's many corridors. I nearly ended up in the venue's gay club by taking the wrong set of stairs on my way out.
Other memorable gigs were Soulwax in 2001, before they became 2 Many DJs, and Thursday in 2003, during my emo rock phase.
The Mean Fiddler, or the LA2 as I remember it, is also going to be missed by myself. With its 360 degree balcony so that you could watch the band from the back of the stage, the step which cause a lot of moshing accidents and its awesome club-night. I remember watching the lead singer of The Bellrays getting into the crowd and taking justice into her own hands after getting bottled. Amazing scenes!
Tonight's final show is called the Demolition Ball and The Automatic, Frank Turner; Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly; Paul Draper from Mansun and some of ...And You'll Know As By The Trail Of Dead are just a few of the names on the bill. A bit of a shitty send-off to be honest
What's your best memory of the Astoria?
Muse - Showbiz
Soulwax - Much Against Everyone's Advice
Thursday - Cross Out The Eyes
Cheers to Fredrick73 for the fitting photo