Saturday, 26 April 2014

9/2/2008 The Great Fire of Camden, a gig (not) and another gig...

SubjectThe Great Fire of Camden, a gig (not) and another gig...

Some nights just don't go according to plan...

Plan A: (I didn't have a plan B) Go to bar Bar Monsta in Camden to see Drugdealer*Cheerleader and Disarm.

I arrive in Camden to find it in chaos - flashing blue lights and police everywhere! Nothing unusual for Camden Town (or most parts of London) on a Saturday night though. Kentish Town Road has been cordonned off - again, nothing that unusal - another car crash or murder? I walk up to the police tape across the road outside the tube station and ask a copper what's going on? He says there's a fire. I ask how long the road is going to be closed? 'All night' is the answer.  I can actually see Bar Monsta only a few yards down the road so I point out that I only want to go just down there. I'm told it's not possible.  I can see no signs of life outside the venue and it's impossible to tell if there is anyone inside or not. I can't see any other way of approaching the place as the road is obviously closed at both ends. It's looks like either the show is off or I'm not getting to it anyway. I feel really sorry for Mick the promoter - first the American headline band pull out of the gig (and the whole tour) at very short notice due to not getting their visas sorted out, then after most the gigs are salvaged after much hard work by the promoters the London show gets hit by this! 

I consider my options for the night... I have a look in the World's End to see if there is anyone I know in there - there isn't. I have another look towards Bar Monsta and see some girls I recognise from various gigs trying to get past the police - they are obviously trying to get to the same gig as me. They aren't getting past the rozzers either. I decide on a short walk to the Dublin Castle to see if there is anyone interesting playing there. I arrive to find the place packed, and the signs outside have no familiar names on the bill so I decide against that idea. As I walk back down Parkway the police decide to close that road as well - even though I'd only walked up it a couple of minutes before!  Nothing is simple tonight. I manage to duck under the police tape when the copper is distracted and get back to the tube station. The police seem to be closing more roads by the minute and it seems like a good idea to get out of Camden. I don't want to just go home after going to the trouble of getting into town from the outskirts, so I decide to have a look in the Intrepid Fox as there are normally people I know in there. Halfway to the West End on the tube I suddenly remember that Shush are playing in Kings Cross - by then I am on the wrong branch of the dreaded Northern Line and have to switch trains to get back to Kings Cross. As I said, nothing is simple tonight...

After a fashion I find myself at the Cross Kings (formerly the Backpackers pub) up the road from Kings Cross station. I wasn't previously aware of live music or the change of name at this pub, but it's good to see another place for bands to play. Apparently Bugbear are booking the bands, and as they also book bands for the Hope & Anchor and Dublin Castle there should be some decent bands coming up - The Dogbones are playing there in March. I actually arrive at the venue before all of the band - Milena is still on her way! She soon turns up, and a few minutes later the band take to the stage.
This pub doesn't seem like it's used to having rock bands performing and it seems to mainly hang onto it's previous tourist clientelle, but at least there is a decent crowd in even if they aren't sure what to expect.
As it turns out, they seem to like Shush. The band are well received as they normally are by unfamiliar audiences, and the only cover of their set Blondie's 'Call Me' goes down particularly well. 
It's all turned out quite well in the end after the unfortunate events in Camden - I still got to see a good band, met a mate in the pub, and enjoyed some excellent beer - I couldn't have done the latter in Bar Monsta.  (sorry Mick!) I can report that they serve a nice pint of London Pride at the Cross Kings at a reasonable price (for a London music venue anyway) so it wasn't a bad evening in the end.

PS: It wasn't until the next day that I found out how bad the fire in Camden had been - although I had been quite close to it I never saw any flames or anything and I'd never have known there was a fire at the time unless a policeman told me. At least nodody got hurt. All the celebs will be as gutted as the Hawley Arms is - I hope they don't start invading 'our' rock haunts instead... Kate Moss, Amy Whininghouse, and Potty Pete in Bar Monsta? Oh the horror! 
PS: The Great Fire of Camden resulted in the loss of the former Caernarvon Castle pub - once a nice little music venue but by then closed and turned into a boutique. The remains were demolished. It also resulted in the famous Hawley Arms being totally gutted. Amazingly, the pub has since been completely rebuilt and is now open again - it must have been well insured!

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