I NEVER saw Coldplay live at the Bull and Gate. Thousands seem to claim they did. The back room can hold about 200 and I think Coldplay played there twice in their early days. I never saw Blur there either. Or anybody else who really went on to be famous. But the live music stage was a good friend to school buddies who wanted to take their garage practice sessions up a notch. Countless bands who went up even more notches than the people we went to school with owe the venue in Kentish Town a favour too. Big names. In the mid-late 1990s, we went there a lot. Our first real pub experiences. If we didn’t like the music, we used to play winner stays on pool in the main bar. You got five plays on the jukebox for a quid. Through misty recollections, it was a happy place. But the green baize isn’t there anymore, and soon the live music stage will be gone too. What a sad thing that is. Nearly everybody with even half an interest in music growing up in north London will have a memory to share about the B&G’s back room.
You wonder why the stage’s legend, and Kentish Town’s reputation for a night out beyond the hectic excesses of Camden Town, couldn’t help it remain a going concern. You might not make a lot of money from try-out gigs. There might be more money to be made in £15 roasted duck and food that is delivered to you on wooden chopping boards, if that’s what’s coming next for the place in a gastro refurb. But undoubtedly Kentish Town, in losing the Bull and Gate’s live music room later this month, is losing something a special. A little part of us.
This could hardly have been demonstrated more perfectly on Friday night when the hometown heroes, Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, one heck of a band, said their own goodbyes at a gig organised by the New Journal and Camden Town firm Key Production. For more than 90 minutes, they burned the place. It was a sweatbox of rhythm and blues. They swap instruments like gobstoppers and all seem just as capable with each. They haven’t sold out to the saccharine demands of the pop chart. I like them a lot. You should go and see them. But, sadly, it won’t be at the B&G. Right there, we’ve lost another good one.