Live music venue the Borderline to close over rising West End rents

Host of early performances by Oasis and Amy Winehouse will close its doors at end of August

The historic live music venue the Borderline, host to Rage Against the Machine, Oasis and Amy Winehouse early in their careers as well as REM and Debbie Harry, is to close in the latest blow to London’s embattled nighttime economy.

Blaming rising rents in the West End, licensing pressures and the redevelopment of the building where it is housed, the owners of the Borderline – which will close its doors at the end of August – said it was a sad day for everyone who loves live music and believes in grassroots venues.

The Borderline is one of the last remaining live music venues in Soho, after the closure of the Astoria and the Marquee club among others. The departure of the legendary basement from the scene is likely to call into question whether similar businesses can survive, with more than a third of the most important grassroots venues in the capital closing since 2007.

The management said it believed running a grassroots music venue in the West End had become impossible, and that it made no sense to continue to invest in the 300-capacity concert space.

“This has been a difficult decision, but given intentions by the landlord to increase the rent significantly for a second time since we took it over in 2016 as well as plans to redevelop the building housing the Borderline, we now know the venue doesn’t have a long-term future so it makes no sense for us to continue to invest,” said the managing director, George Akins.

“I don’t see how it is possible [to run a premier grassroots music venue in the West End] when faced with all the difficulties from business rates, increasing rents and licensing pressure.”

The Borderline opened in the early 1980s and initially hosted emerging rock, blues and country music. Texas performed a week before the release of their 1989 hit single I Don’t Want a Lover.

Blur performed in 1990 before signing their first record deal and the following year REM appeared just after the release of their seventh album Out of Time, while the likes of Bloc Party, Razorlight, the Cribs and Mumford & Sons starred after the millennium.

Fast forward to 2019 and the Borderline plays host to live gigs from a diverse range of artists every night of the week amid changing popular tastes.

It was refurbished in 2017 with hopes that this could breathe new life into the revered venue. However, the lights will go out for the final time on 31 August.


Mattha Busby

The GuardianTramp

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