I’ve spent ten minutes now wondering how to start this piece…. do I look backwards or forwards?
So, I think, forwards:
Starting on Tuesday 28th January and running until Sunday 2nd February it will be Independent Venue Week, full details are here, and Tunbridge Wells Forum is one of the eighteen venues taking part in a week of special gigs. The Forum gig is next Sunday, with Propellers headlining, an event supported by BBC Introducing in Kent. It was interesting to click through some of the other venues, many of which seem to be converted from something else ( a church, a library…)
It has been previously documented how the building The Forum now occupies was built in the 1930s as a restroom for visitors to the Common, and became a brass rubbing centre in the 1980s. As a music venue it opened its doors twenty one years ago. It marked it’s anniversary last week with three nights of gigs by Wilko Johnson and his band (Norman Watt-Roy and Dylan Howe) and assorted support acts. Originally one night was booked (Friday) but this sold out so quickly that Thursday was added, then Wednesday. Wilko has played The Forum several times over the years, and while it was lovely to be in a full audience on Thursday night – this ‘full audience’ often isn’t the case.
The venue has three other events during this week – including on Friday locals SLAVES. I first heard Slaves on BBC Introducing in Kent, and we went to see them play The Forum last winter, when they supported Dinosaur Pileup. It was a bitterly cold night, and the audience who did turn out enjoyed themselves, but it was also an evening where you wondered where everyone else was. Since then Slaves have played at the Reading and Leeds festival, they are now being played on Radio One in the evenings, and I do hope Friday night will be a sell-out (the building is so much warmer when 250 people are in the audience). Thursday night will be the second Pop-up cinema ( screening Les 400 Coups), and Saturday is a charity fundraiser, showing the diversity of events possible within one week.
It’s heartening to have a week to highlight the work taken on to keep these venues up and running, and pleasing that next year’s week is already being planned. Just as IVW say in their blurb, these venues offer support to musicians and fans; I feel they are helping to create a community, and creating memories. So – looking backwards on 21 years at The Forum and the past 3 nights of Wilko, and forwards to IVW and another 21 years?
Read about Slaves and Dinosaur Pileup here