4play: So Long, Astoria

The London Astoria is closing its doors tomorrow, to make way for Crossrail, some sort of bullshit train station. This is incredibly sad news, because it has been one of London's best venues for decades. I've been to many, many, many gigs there, and have struggled to narrow it down to four unforgettable highlights.

This selection is so good that NONE OF THESE EVEN MAKE THE CUT: seeing the sixth gig that Gomez ever played, or watching Lo-Fidelity Allstars (still with Wrekked Train!) brandish firecrackers, or Soundtrack of our Lives playing second on the bill and blowing away headliners Ash and Hundred Reasons, or interviewing MoHoBishOPi in the tiny, tiny, dressing room upstairs there, or, at the same gig, The Vines underwhelming despite a mountain of hype, The Music being amazing, and Doves unveiling 'The Last Broadcast'.

But here are the four strongest abiding memories I have of the soon-to-be-demolished music cathedral.

The White Stripes, November 2001: The NME was all like "They're the best thing to ever happen to recorded sound" but all I heard was hypehypehypehype. So I wasn't particularly fussed when they announced a couple of shows at the Astoria. Day of, I get a call from the woman at their PR company who said "Just come and see them" and I did, and you know what? They were really rather good. I'm not too fussed about any of their records, nor have I ever seen them again, but they definitely killed it that night.

The Flaming Lips, July 2002: The best concert I have ever seen. But I've written about that before.

Asian Dub Foundation, January 2000: Supported by short-time heroes the Regular Fries, the mighty ADF took to the stage and previewed forthcoming classic 'Community Music' in all its kaleidoscopic glory. Before 'Collective Mode', someone ripped off their t-shirt and threw it onstage. And Deedar was still in the band. Unforgettable.

Super Furry Animals, June 1999: This was an afternoon gig, a recording for Japanese TV. The day after GCSEs finished. It would be the first time I'd see SFA, and I'd go on to see them another six times in the next twelve months, the closest I've ever been to being obsessed. It being early, Guto managed to fall asleep. The era when they began with 'Wherever I Lay My Phone, That's My Home' and rocked like bastards. That last video link is actually from the gig in question, so watch it!


lee said...

at least you have public transit

Tim said...

My favourite gig at the Astoria: Me First & the Gimme Gimmes (2006). The Gimmes were touring their punk country covers album, Love Their Country, and they played a Brokeback Mountain themed set. I was deeply moved by Fat Mike's "I wish I could quit you".

Immediately after they left the stage, G.A.Y. began. Ahhh, the Astoria. It was awesome.

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