Historic baths venue being renovated and reopened for Sound City Ipswich

The venue rose to prominence in the 1960s and ‘70s, hosting sets by rock legendaries like Led Zeppelin, Cream and Rod Stewart

Organisers of Sound City festival in Ipswich have announced their plans to reopen a historic bath hall for its 2021 edition, decades since the venue last held a gig.

As local paper the Ipswich Star reports, the Baths Hall (formerly St Matthew’s Baths) rose to prominence in the 1960s and ‘70s, hosting sets by rock legendaries like Led Zeppelin, Cream and Rod Stewart. The venue doubled as a public swimming pool, with boards laid over it when concerts were held.

Its popularity for touring acts fizzled out in the ‘80s, and over the years, the Baths went through a series of renovations. It most recently existed as a gym, until the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced it to close permanently last year.

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The venue will be see its doors opened once more, however, when the Sound City festival hits Ipswich on the weekend of Friday October 1 and Saturday 2. Marcus Neal, Sound City’s co-director and programmer, said: “It’s a real thrill to be able to use The Baths as a venue. It’s a brilliant space to see bands – and it has such an incredible history of influential, iconic and, well, legendary bands performing.”

The Star notes that builders have already started work to bring the venue up to modern health and safety standards; alongside widened fire escapes and upgraded power and data lines, the Baths will become home to a new stage and bar, plus enhanced sound and lighting systems.

Neal hopes that such will help the Baths thrive as a live music venue even after Sound City wraps. “As things stand, we are also looking at holding further gigs after the festival,” he said. “We’re currently looking at about eight between now and the end of the year. If all goes well, we hope to make it a regular venue for touring bands, helping to put Ipswich back on the UK’s music map.”

Tickets to the 2021 edition of Sound City Ipswich are on sale now from the festival’s website. In addition to headliners BC Camplight and Working Men’s Club, the bill features acts like Billy Nomates, Chubby & The Gang, TV Priest, Big Joanie, Yard Act and more.

Sound City is also held in Liverpool and Manchester, as well as internationally in Beijing and South Korea.

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