Forget Stadium Venues, Let’s Get Intimate

It was recently noted that music acts make more money from touring these days than they do from sales of albums, something which, not long ago, would have seemed impossible. During the 1970’s only the biggest acts in the world like Led Zeppelin or Elton John ever made money from touring. Today even relatively small acts can make a good living on the road and venues are queuing up to make themselves available.

But music venues have changed a lot in recent years, particularly for rock and pop acts. Groups no longer perform in small club venues, they aim for stadiums like Wembley or The Milton Keynes Bowl. They might be able to fill the venues with adoring fans but they’ll never match the passion and intimacy of some of history’s most famous rock ‘n’ roll venues.

The Cavern Club – The Cavern promotes itself as ‘The Most Famous Club in the World’ and few would argue the fact. As music venues go it’s in the premier league by virtue of the history associated with it. Set up by Alan Synter in 1957 and styled on the Jazz clubs of Paris, The Cavern was just a cellar that had been used as an air raid shelter during the war, nothing special. But it was to become known the world over because of one act who regularly performed there; The Beatles.

On Tuesday February 21 1961 the group made their first appearance at the club after arriving back from a spell performing in German clubs. For John Lennon it wasn’t the first time he’d been on the stage, his previous group, The Quarrymen, had already played a set there but they were not received well by a largely Jazz loving crowd. But when The Beatles returned from Germany, where they perfected their live show, things had changed.

The time was right for a British rock ‘n’ roll group and The Beatles duly obliged. The Beatles made 292 appearances at the club and are by far the most famous people ever to play there but The Cavern also became a significant venue for the subsequent boom in British music and played host to acts including The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who.

The Marquee – For some The Marquee is one of the most important music venues in the world because of the number of acts who have graced the stage, and the quality of those performances, many of which has been recorded and released as live albums. Unlike other venues The Marquee has never specialised in a particular type of music which has meant that new acts have always been welcome.

As a result The Marquee is one of the few venues that has consistently kept pace with changing trends and fashions. Reading a history of The Marquee is like reading a history of popular music from the past 50 years.

Without The Marquee many acts that are now household names might not have made it out of first gear. The most famous of London venues has seen performances by Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and U2 among others.

Whisky A Go Go – New York has always produced great venues where the most famous groups have played but it’s Los Angeles’s Whisky A Go Go that many people associate with some of the great American rock performers.

Situated on the East Coast meant it was perfectly positioned to become one of the major venues associated with the Summer of Love and the Hippy movement. Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and The Doors all made their name playing at the club.

Dominic Donaldson is an expert in the music industry.
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