The Joiners Arms, 141 St Mary’s Street, Southampton SO14 1NS
The Joiners is somewhere I wish I could move nearer to my place. For me it’s about an hour’s drive or I can get the train from Poole and walk the just under a mile from the central station, heading east towards St Mary’s football stadium. There are car parks nearby but I prefer the on-street parking meter bays up the top (north) end of St Mary’s Street and around the church. I have never had a problem finding somewhere to park. It’s not in the best of areas but I’ve not encountered any bother.
When the doors open the concern about having a signal, having enough battery left, finding e-tickets, emails and apps all evaporates as the person on the door usually just wants your name, postcode and to check you off the list. A traditional pen mark on the back of a hand completes the entry process – I find I can proudly sport this badge of honour for several days after, despite vigorous scrubbing with a nail brush.
The merch stand is usually just inside the door. The bar and adjacent table have a great surface, made out of designs from Joiners posters, flyers and tickets. I’d love to try that.
The bar is small and L-shaped – hard to get one of the seats, if there are any out – about eight at most. A good selection of beers and ciders. My favourite is the Roadie ale – quite a rare find with a distinctive mic stand tap. Darker with malty taste. On my last few visits I have tried some of the surprisingly wide range of no and low alcohol beers. (Brewdog Nanny State a good option with low calories.)
Through the bar and out to the quite narrow rear of the gig room. Funnel through there, passed the small mixing desk on your left and the room opens out just in front of the stage, across its width, and only about as deep as the stage. It’s about as compact as it gets on the recognised gig circuit. I’m happy to lean on the rail next to the mixing desk – always a fascinating watch the mix desk. Another spot I like is by the wall to the left, by the mural. If busy, the corridor to the toilets brings you out to that left corner spot with some polite pushing through.
The capacity is 200 but that makes for a squeeze. Bands are pushed for space with spare equipment piled around the steps up to the left of the stage, around a cramped roadie usually. When they come on, acts have to push through the crowd and later return with the aid of a security guard to escape down the toilets corridor – a corridor lined with old posters and pictures from years of rock’n’roll here. This curtails encore games with most just taking a breather on the stage, before a last blast.
(The toilets have unisex arrangement – don’t be alarmed when standing at the urinals.)
They’ve had some cracking bands over the years, on their way up: Green Day, Muse, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead. All before my time near the South Coast. In September 2012, Wolf Alice played as part or their small venue mini-tour. £15 and the tickets were like gold dust. Worth keeping your eye out for the listings. I’ll be back soon I’m sure.
I will update these notes as I go. Links to my recent blogs from The Joiners can be found here:
– The K’s