Fight­back! tick­ets went on sale at the early­bird price of £10 before any line-up was announced. About half the tick­ets sold out, and around 800 acts came for­ward to offer their ser­vices to play at the gig, which was set up by the Music Venue Trust as a protest against the recent aston­ish­ing­ly high num­ber of clo­sures of music venues around the coun­try, main­ly due to development.

The Round­house tried to pack as many artists as pos­si­ble into the evening, mak­ing use of three venues – the Main Space, the mid­dle floor bar (which was rammed) and the more inti­mate Sack­ler Space down­stairs, where the qui­eter acts per­formed with staff on the door oper­at­ing a ‘one in, one out’ pol­i­cy. The only down­side to the packed evening was that sets had to be kept rel­a­tive­ly short to squeeze every­one in.

Many of the artists were rel­a­tive­ly unknown, but then this was part of the idea for the Fight­back!, in order to give young musi­cians who should be play­ing at the Bull & Gate (now closed) or Buf­fa­lo Bar (now closed), a chance to play before a size­able audi­ence (big­ger venues like The Asto­ria have closed too). Most artists made some ref­er­ence on stage to the dire sit­u­a­tion: The Carn­abys, who played a boun­cy first act on on the main stage, announced their deci­sion to donate prof­its of their new album pre-orders to the Trust. After sets by a soul­ful Jake Isaacs and then Ed Har­court, it was the turn of Pub­lic Ser­vice Broad­cast­ing, who man­aged to get their screens and assort­ed on-stage para­pher­na­lia set up in record time. They drew a huge and enthu­si­as­tic crowd and played a pow­er­ful and enig­mat­ic set with accom­pa­ny­ing visuals.


Head­lin­ing the evening were Every­thing Every­thing, but we head­ed down­stairs to watch The Leisure Soci­ety, who took the final slot at the Sack­ler Space. Vocal­ist Nick Hem­ming remind­ed us of Lon­don venues they have played which no longer exist, The Lumi­naire and the 12 Bar. The band played a beau­ti­ful set– warm, envelop­ing folk-influ­enced mate­r­i­al. Mike Sid­dell (below, left) played vio­lin on sev­er­al tracks which added extra depth and rich­ness to the com­po­si­tions. A per­fect end to the evening.


The Leisure Society

Even Paul McCart­ney has got on board with the bid to save our venues, with a mes­sage of sup­port on the Music Venue Trust web­site. Paul was one of the six major artists who took part in a ‘fes­ti­val’ of sorts called Desert Trip in Cal­i­for­nia. The organ­is­ers start­ed the event at 6pm. As Melin­da New­man writes in Forbes mag­a­zine: The fes­ti­val, held at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio, CA, tried a new mod­el. Instead of a full day of music with head­lin­ers at night, Desert Trip was all main course, no appe­tiz­ers’. Anoth­er lost oppor­tu­ni­ty for young artists to gain expo­sure and play before an audi­ence. I hope this mod­el does­n’t take off.

Atom­ic Sun­rise fes­ti­val was held at The Round­house in 1970 fea­tur­ing Gen­e­sis, David Bowie, Hawk­wind and oth­ers. Footage on a BBC4 doc­u­men­tary of Gen­e­sis called Togeth­er and Apart, includes a few sec­onds of footage of peo­ple gath­er­ing around out­side the build­ing. It’s reas­sur­ing that, despite its ups and downs over the years, the Cam­den Round­house still flour­ish­es as a music venue.

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