Eve Of Destruction – Backstage At The Astoria’s Last Hurrah

So, the curtains have finally been drawn on the London Astoria.

At last night’s farewell bash, as fans and bands ripped through the famous nightspot, relieving it of various bits of ‘memorabilia’ (light fittings, chairs, telephones…the credit crunch has obviously hit the indie community hard), there was an undeniable air of sadness about one of the capital’s most loved venue’s last night ever of live music.


The aptly-named ‘Destruction Ball’ saw the Astoria out, organised in little more than a fortnight by Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly’s Sam Duckworth and Som Wardner from My Vitriol.

Mystery Jets, The Automatic, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and Babyshambles’ Drew McConnell were just a few of the bands on hand to tread the stage one final time. Considering tickets were only £8, and that profits from the gig went to Love Music Hate Racism and Jail Guitar Doors, that’s not a bad night out.

You can read NME.COM’s live report of the gig here (and share your memories of the venue here) – but here’s a brief run through of some our personal highlights of the night.

– VV Brown’s all-too-short opening set.

– Drew McConnell’s “Boris Johnson is a cunt” speech.


– Getting lost backstage, only to turn around to find we’re being followed by none other than Mansun’s Paul Draper (“Where the fuck are we? How d’you get out?”).

– Mystery Jets deservedly getting the biggest cheers of the night during their set.

– Sam Duckworth coming over all fanboyish around …Trail Of Dead.

– Frank Turner’s ‘Dancing Queen’ cover.

– The lone-punter who decided it would be a good idea to stand on the balcony shouting how he “really, really loved” the Astoria after the final song.

– Seeing JJ72’s Mark Greaney for the first time in years – and realising he now looks eerily similar to NME’s own Jamie Fullerton.

Perhaps best of all though, was …Trail Of Dead frontman Conrad Keely’s reaction upon being told the Astoria is due to be demolished imminently. “So why’s it not been emptied yet?” he asked, surveying the mass of furniture filling up the tiny dressing room while eyeing up a dormant chair.

Despite his best (and repeated) efforts, said chair didn’t quite have the impact on the huge wall mirror that Keely had hoped for – weirdly, it just bounced back off it. Still, undeterred, he decided to kick in one of the walls instead, this time having much more success. “Now it’s ready to be ripped to shreds,” he said, with plaster scrapings all up his jeans.

One other dilemma no one seemed to think about until the very last minute regarded the final ever song to be played on the hallowed Astoria stage. Big decision, huh? The sight of Drew McConnell, Sam Duckworth, The Enemy’s Andy Hopkins and a load of roadies desperately wracking their brains for something “apt, singable and easy to play” was highly amusing.

‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ was dismissed as being too cheesy, as was ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. Hopkins’ suggestion of ‘London Calling’ garnered a collective “too obvious” sigh, while NME’s calls for ‘West End Girls’ or ‘To The End’ were cruelly ignored. We’re rightfully chastising ourselves now for not thinking of The Kinks ‘Victoria’ (‘Astoria’) until it was too late.

In the end, an extended version of Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’, with its chorus of “Don’t worry, ’bout a thing / every little thing’s gonna be alright” went down a storm.

And that was that – the end of the Astoria. RIP.

Were you there? Share your memories of the Astoria’s final night by leaving a comment.