First up, I’m sorry for the long silence. Last week, following a death in the family, I went home and spent a week with my dad, taking a couple of days off work and commuting into London the rest of the week. It wasn’t the right time or place to be thinking about blogging, really. Then, in rather happier news, I was at my cousin’s wedding, then back in London to play a gig at The Gladstone Arms, more of which shortly.
I’ve been struggling with a piece all week, writing a bit here and a bit there, and it’s not really come together. I don’t know whether to persist or junk it, or maybe use the bits of it that most interest me as a starting point for another piece entirely. Maybe the latter. That might be a good way out of the hole I’ve found myself in on that one.
But I did want to write something, and this week I’ve been thinking a lot about the Gladstone, having played there the other day for what may be the last time.
I wrote about the threat to The Gladstone last year, but the situation has changed a bit since then. The company that bought it wanted to pull it down and build flats on the site, but in the face of local opposition and Southwark Council listing it as an asset of community value, the developers changed strategy. They instead offered the leaseholders a new lease at a greatly increased rate. They can’t pay it, and as things stand The Gladstone will close when the current lease expires at the end of October.
My partner Melanie wrote a piece on her blog last night that gets to the heart of why the Gladstone is so precious, so I don’t need to say any more about that. I just want to relive the memories that are most precious to me.
The time I saw Adam Beattie play A Song of 100 Years for the first time and was brought to tears – genuine big fat tears – by it.
Watching fleet-fingered guitar pickers like Oli Talkes and Chris Brambley and wanting to go home and get practicing right away, so I could do the things they do too.
Seeing the guys from Hoatzin transform themselves into one being with four brains and eight arms, playing a set of complex, intricate jazzy post-rock without making a single mistake or breaking sweat.
James McKean’s album launch show on Easter Sunday earlier this year, and the biblical rainstorm that followed it.
The carol-singing evenings at Christmas.
The pies, especially the Moo.
The late evenings spent hanging around outside the pub, chewing over the evening’s music, catching up with friends.
And finally, the Sunday evening in August where I played what may end up being my only solo show at The Gladstone. Where, because the billed headliner pulled out, I was given the opportunity to transform my favourite London venue into my own front room for the evening, and invite James and Mel on to the stage with me, to sing a few of their songs each after I’d played my set, and finally to relive the days when James and I used to sit at the kitchen table, swapping songs and playing covers, just for the joy of making music.
The joy of making music was what The Gladstone was all about, and I fervently hope some way will be found to save it.