January 15, 2009 10:39

London Astoria has its final night before being demolished

Mystery Jets, Get Cape, The Automatic pay tribute to the iconic venue

London Astoria has its final night before being demolished
The London Astoria hosted its final ever night yesterday (January 14), with a host of bands played the venue's iconic stage one last time.

The venue is being closed and the building demolished to make way for the new Crossrail project linking the centre of London to the east and west of the city.

Mystery Jets, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, The Automatic, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Drew McConnell's side-project Helsinki, VV Brown and Frank Turner were among the acts who played at yesterday's 'Destruction Ball'.

The event, organised by Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly's Sam Duckworth, also raised money for Love Music Hate Racism and Jail Guitar Doors.

Most of the bands on the bill voiced their disapproval at the fate of the venue, which has hosted legendary shows by Nirvana, The Strokes and the Manic Street Preachers in its 30-year history.

Babyshambles' bassist Drew McConnell (playing with his band Helsinki) launched a verbal attack on London mayor Boris Johnson for allowing the venue to be knocked down - although the decision was made during his predecessor Ken Livingstone's tenure.

"I can't believe they're gonna knock this place down. Boris Johnson…what a cunt," McConnell said from the stage. He then coaxed the crowd into chanting "Boris Johnson - what a cunt", over and over.

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, who had flown in for the gig earlier that afternoon, said the venue held special memories for them. Singer Conrad Keely told NME.COM: "For us, filmed our first video here. Our first London shows were here and it was a big deal. We were like 'Whoa! This is a fucking cool place!'

"I remember we played here with The Strokes too, for an NME Awards Show I think [the 2001 NME Awards Show also featured Rocket From The Crypt and Peaches]. What a gig that was. It's a shame, what's happening to this place."

Mystery Jets went onstage shortly after 11pm (GMT), playing a rapturously received set that included fan-favourites 'Flakes' and 'Young Love', while The Automatic paid tribute to the Astoria for letting them play alongside The Cribs and The Long Blondes at another NME Awards Show, in 2006.

"Who remembers that gig, eh?" said frontman Robin Hawkins. "I can't believe this is the last night here."

Not everything on the night went smoothly though. Members of The Enemy had been due to attend, only to be initially denied entry by the venue's door staff. After arguing with the bouncers, bassist Andy Hopkins was finally allowed into the venue.

The night also saw some older faces returning to the Astoria. Mansun's Paul Draper appeared onstage briefly to sing his band's 1996 classic 'Wide Open Space' with My Vitriol, who also premiered a host of new songs in their set. JJ72's Mark Greaney also played a short set.

For the final ever song played at The Astoria, King Blues singer Fruitbag, VV Brown, Sam Duckworth, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and Drew McConnell performed a cover of Bob Marley's 'Three Little Birds'.

Despite the fact that the venue had long surpassed its live music curfew, the makeshift band were reluctant to stop playing, turning the song into a 15-minute singalong.

The final gig in its small hall, Astoria 2, takes place tonight (January 15) with club night PUSH hosting proceedings.

The Astoria is reportedly being demolished this weekend.

NME.COM has a photo gallery celebrating the Astoria's history online now, while you can share your London Astoria memories on the NME Blog now.

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