• Amy

BOOK REVIEW: London Lost Music Venues 2 by Paul Talling

First time writing a book review so we'll see how this goes!

Let's start off by saying I don't read books, I've only finished 2 novels in my adult life (a Courtney Love biography and Orwell's Animal Farm) but I love reference books, something you can flick through, look at the pictures and read tit bits that jump out as interesting. So while I've not read London Lost Music Venues 2 cover to cover I've read enough to get a feel for what a wonderful, well written book it is.

It's set out as each venue is mostly a double page spread with a few that have less photos only being on a single side. It gives the venue's name, full address, brief description (mostly including the years it was an active venue, capacity and what now occupies the site) and lots of photographs mainly focusing on how the site looks now along with tickets stubs and flyers for events that were held there.

I'm a massive gig goer and have been to countless shows in our capital however, unfortunately most of the venues included in this book are unfamiliar to me. It does however feature the Astoria which was a bucket list venue for me as it was the last place Richey Edwards played with the Manic Street Preachers before his 1994 disappearance. I was heartbroken it closed and was demolished before I had a chance to go. I know the Olympics were important but to me what they did to the Astoria was criminal.

There are other venues I'm familiar with such as Camden's Purple Turtle as Deaf Havana mention this in "The Past Six Years" where they talked about how other bands have progressed to Reading and Leeds but they're still "playing the Purple Turtle on New Year's Eve" until reading this book I didn't even realise the venue had closed and become a nightclub.

The book is beautifully written, giving a real feel for the venue and showcasing some of the standout events that happened at each one. It really is a charming read but also somewhat heartbreaking when you read that the building is demolished and the site turned into houses or worse still, demolished and just left as barren waste land.

Thankfully many of the venues still stand and have been repurposed into clubs or bars, which while it's a shame it's nice that they haven't just been left to decay. The ones that have been left to fall into a sorry state of disrepair still hold a glimmer of hope that one day they'll be returned to their former music house glory.

The posters and ticket stubs included in this book are wonderful, some going right back to the 50's and 60's featuring bands such as the Beatles who played Leyton Baths on 1934 as site which is now occupied by Tesco or 1000 capacity Turnmills which played host to Shaun Ryder, Peter Hook and Clint Boon all on the same line up.

The book shares details of some big venues such as the 15000 capacity London Area on the Isle of Dog which closed in 2005 and was later demolished, this is a venue I've never even heard of. Another big venue it includes is Earls Court, which closed in 2014 and I hadn't even realised so I was a little shocked by that!

It also features some tiny quirky venues such as Chilehurst Caves which, quite literally are caves that during WWII provided night shelter to some 15000 people. It later became a jazz venue in the 1950.

This book is truly magnificent. It's a wonderful piece of nostalgia not just to people familiar with London venues but to music lovers from anywhere in the world. It reminds you of bands you'd forgotten, gives you insight into venues you never knew existed and is just a good walk down memory lane.