Islington Assembly Hall 1.11.19
No, not an outburst in North London but a rare chance to see the band, My Vitriol, in the classic reborn civic building that is Islington Assembly Hall, or certainly hear them. I will get to the gig eventually.
A night out on Upper Street
Upper Street, the main street, the A1, Islington, heads north away from Angel tube station, festooned with restaurants, casual eateries, bars, theatres, venues, shops, and there’s even the old Screen on the Green cinema – yes there’s even a green. It costs a mint to live around here but there is so much going for it…..and there is a recently upgraded Premier Inn tucked behind the less original Angel Shopping Centre down near the tube station.
Tonight’s gig is about half a mile up Upper Street but so much temptation on the way.
The Nag’s Head is a good pick (cheers Chris for that one. CMe) down the tube station end and the slightly more spacious York pub over the wide bit of road is good for watching the football and spilling out on the pavement in the sunshine, if there is any. This Friday I’m starting with a Wild Beer ale in the Bull further up while menu browsing (another Chris intro) but on we go, passing the more conventional Fox on the Green (open for a loud, late one), passed the King’s Head theatre pub (very good but busy and we need to eat something) and on to…ahh what’s this?…Slim Jim’s Liquor Saloon. Totally uninviting, almost sinister, plain entrance but we remembered going in here after seeing what was billed as the last ever Eddie and the Hot Rods gig – at the O2 Academy in April. (I’m with my mate Dave tonight, as I was that night. DPi.)
Very sadly, Eddie and the Hot Rods’ lead singer Barrie Masters recently passed away, aged 63, and his funeral is in Southend on Wednesday.
Slim Jim’s Liquor Saloon
After the last special Hot Rods show we came to Slim Jim’s and got some added insight into Barrie, and the Hot Rods, from their guitarist Richard Holgarth who we found at the bar.
This place is a corker: narrow, dark, sticky and rock’n’roll all over. It feels like you should order a Jack Daniels. It’s empty early on but a chance to survey the place, with a pint of Roadie Signature ale.
I honestly didn’t realise last time but most of the ceiling is ‘decorated’ with donated bras. Tonight I can only offer a supportive ankle sock, and my need is not over yet.
We returned here after tonight’s gig. They have bands on here as well as a late DJ playing stuff I actually like and know. On looking at their website later I found they are linked to the saloon bar place I was in the last week in Tufnell Park, Eights and Aces. Both great.
On to The Taproom
Still not eaten yet. The repeated and foolhardily laddish phrase ‘eating is cheating’ is ringing in my ears. We are heading for a schoolboy error here. The doors open for tonight’s My Vitriol gig soon and the clock is ticking.
Into another smart looking bar (John Salt) further up the road on the left, with food, but all tables reserved, this is for a longer stay and we bail out…but then, almost at the venue, we stumble upon The Taproom. A feast of craft ale on offer and a pizza oven for a perfect no nonsense bite. Excellent.
I’m no Time Out. These are just some tips from a few trips up here, but have a look at this. Slim Jim’s strikes a chord with the Time Out bods too: https://www.timeout.com/london/blog/14-reasons-to-go-to-upper-street-in-islington-n1-042916
Islington Assembly Hall
The Assembly Hall is a classic civic building opened in 1930. After being closed in 1980 it was left as a store, until re-opening in 2010. Brass, dark wood, red carpets, art deco finishing and civic pride from an era when these sort of buildings were a priority for communities.
We had unreserved seating in the balcony, a timely relief given my current foot ailment, but the bar was downstairs and I so I had a look round.
Tonight’s bands are ready to go: Area 11, Novacub and My Vitriol.
Area 11 are an indie rock band from Nottingham. The lead singer had a really strong voice. Shut your eyes and you might be expecting a hairy tattooed rocker but no.
Glad we got here early. I’d certainly look them up again.
Area 11 You Tube pick: https://youtu.be/9fMVdvuCekg
Novacub were next on, featuring drummer Louise Bartle and guitarist Russell Lissack from Bloc Party.
Louise Bartle fronts Novacub having started writing her own songs.
My Vitriol were formed in 1999 and their ‘Finelines’ album released in 2001 was really it – great album – attracted a lot of attention – good gigs and key festivals, but the one album.
Lead singer Som Wardner (born in Sri-Lanka) met drummer Ravi Kesavaram at university in London (UCL) and they started from there.
They had a single, ‘Always Your Way’, that got them to number 24 in the UK chart and on Top of the Pops, and two other singles from the Finelines album but the wait for a second album was a long one. When it came it was a crowd funded type of self release: ‘The Secret Sessions’.
Single ‘Always Your Way”: https://youtu.be/egoef0mWIeo
Live there is certainly an essence of Muse about them, powerful full-on guitar, with fit inducing lights – I found out just now that they supported Muse a few times.
The lighting was quite unusual as for most of the gig it was hard to see the band. A quick snap from the balcony as they darted out of the shadows – we had nabbed a front row position and not many up there so quite handy.
Certainly enjoyed them and I hadn’t heard anything for years – the main single I knew and the Finelines album was my revision but this was quite unfamiliar ground.
Before leaving us for the merch desk signings scrummage Som Wardner mused at doing a Brexit style encore….and just never actually leave.
Well you won’t have learned much about the bands tonight from me, but a few tips to help a night out involving the lovely Islington Assembly Hall, or to help prompt you looking for an Islington gig.
Off back to Slim Jim’s Liquor Store. Gig numer 66 of 2019 is over.