While so many venues have struggled in the capital, the Liquid Room has thrived. Doug Johnstone reports on the top line-up for their tenth birthday celebrations
A venue can make or break a great night out when it comes to live music or a club night. There’s simply no comparison between seeing your favourite band or DJ struggling in a soulless, breezy cowshed of a place and seeing them whip up a storm in your local throbbing sweatbox.
So when we get a decent venue for music, we should celebrate it, especially these days, when commercial pressures are seeing more and more places closing down (RIP The Venue).
So let’s hear it for the Liquid Room, which celebrates ten years of fantastic live shows and classic clubs in May. Emerging from the ashes of The Music Box a decade ago, on a labyrinthine Old Town site on Victoria Street, the venue has consistently provided a great platform for local talent, touring bands and DJs alike.
The 800-capacity space makes for the perfect stepping stone for acts on their way up the industry ladder, and as such it has seen a remarkable array of now world-famous acts take to the stage. Coldplay, Travis, Moby, Smashing Pumpkins, Public Enemy, Kaiser Chiefs, Keane, Snow Patrol, KT Tunstall - and on and on the list goes.
To celebrate ten years as one of the country’s finest venues, they’re taking a trip down memory lane, programming a week of gigs and clubs which will no doubt bring back some fine memories.
‘The whole idea of the birthday week was to bring back artists that our customers remember as being among the best gigs they’ve seen,’ says events manager Kathrin Gee. ‘The line-up is full of artists that supported us in the early days, guys who helped make the Liquid Room what it is today.’
None more so than Mogwai, who kick off proceedings on Sunday 13 May.
‘It was important to get Mogwai, because they were the first ever band to play the Liquid Room,’ says Gee. ‘The fact that they agreed to launch the birthday week, and that all the other acts agreed to take part, indicates that our relationships with bands are still really strong.’
The following seven days see everything from the legendary reggae of Prince Buster to the jazz maestro Roy Ayres, the blistering indie of Idlewild to the anthemic hip hop of Coolio, another artist who appeared very early in the Liquid Room’s history.
Elsewhere there are club nights involving the Cuban Brothers and Trevor Nelson, and a very special indie club night with Gary Lightbody and Tom Simpson from Snow Patrol manning the decks.
‘Snow Patrol played here to 50 people when they were nobodies, really,’ says Gee. ‘They always loved a good drink and a party, and you never knew what to expect from them, but you always got a laugh, and that’ll be the same at this event. Gary said he was really excited about coming back - he reckons that he’s played the Liquid Room more than any other venue.’
With a big refurbishment planned and an ever-growing list of quality bands and clubs, the Liquid Room could easily manage another ten years.
‘Every year we do more and more shows,’ says Gee. ‘And we’re in a position now where we can select stuff, and just put really good quality events on.’
Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Sun 13-Sun 20 May.