Published: 14 February, 2013
EXCLUSIVE by DAN CARRIER
COLDPLAY have told the New Journal they are dismayed by the closure of the live music stage at the famous Bull and Gate pub, the scene of one of their first live gigs as a fledgling band.
In an email to the newspaper, the award-winning rock stars told how the venue in Highgate Road, Kentish Town, helped send them on their way to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world.
The pub’s new owners, the Young’s brewery chain, want the back room of the bar – for so long a favourite hangout for generations of music fans – to be converted into an area where they can serve more food.
Coldplay appeared on stage in the late 1990s and singer Chris Martin, who learned of its closure through the New Journal, said the live slot changed their lives.
The band told us yesterday (Wednesday): “In January 1999, promoter Simon Williams and the great people of the Bull let us bang out five songs in 20 minutes. It got us our first NME review and changed our lives forever. Long live the Bull. We’ll always be grateful.”
The band went on to have a string of hits with now instantly recognisable songs such as Yellow, Fix You and Trouble.
Mr Williams said the live stage had been integral to the pub staying open in recent years after long-term landlords Pat and Margaret Lynskey decided to retire and began to hunt for a buyer.
He added: “The tragedy is that Young’s see the pub as the main asset and the live music as an irritant, when for the past three years the gigs have kept the pub alive. The venue has been lacking in investment because it has been on and off the market for so long. The casual gig-goer likes a bit of a burger or a touch of tapas with their gig, as proven by terrific venues like the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen. This could have been a brilliant opportunity to invest in and secure the future of a great old venue, but nobody has bothered to ask our opinion. Yet again, live music suffers.”
His views were echoed by BBC Radio Six DJ Steve Lamacq.
He told the New Journal: “It’s a terrible shame. It’s where I saw bands like Blur and Doves in their early days. Unfortunately it’s another indication that live music is being squeezed out of certain areas, meaning bands have less choice of where to play. The old Camden scene, which was cheap and vibrant and a good showcase for bands, is slowly being eaten away.”
The Bull and Gate’s live music promoter Andy MacLeod said: “Good luck to them: there is obviously a big gap in the market for a gastro pub, seeing as there are already 29 in the area.”
The pub is set to close its doors for a refurbishment at the start of May before reopening in the summer.
A spokeswoman for Young’s said: “We don’t feel that having live music alongside plans to serve food is viable.”
COLDPLAY PLAYING THE BULL AND GATE IN 1999.