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.

Contributor

Mattha Busby

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Fears zoning dispute may leave London music training project 'homeless'
Tileyard Impact, based in King’s Cross, is in conflict with council about a permanent base

Henry McDonald

04, Aug, 2019 @1:27 PM

Article image
Plans for London's biggest music venue face local opposition
The Sphere, over 90 metres high, would also contain a nightclub, bars, restaurants and shops

Joanna Partridge

01, Feb, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Live Nation walks away from Hyde Park concerts over 'flawed' tender process

Company behind events including Live 8 and Bruce Springsteen concert cite issues such as noise restrictions for decision. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

22, Oct, 2012 @4:15 PM

Article image
UK music industry gets boost from 12% rise in audiences at live events
Study by UK Music shows audiences for concerts and festivals up to record 30.9 million, bringing £4bn in to the economy

Hannah Ellis-Petersen

09, Jul, 2017 @11:00 PM

Article image
Mumford & Sons star: UK needs small venues to nurture talent
Ben Lovett says UK risks falling behind rest of Europe without more grassroots support

Lanre Bakare Arts and culture correspondent

26, Nov, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
Socially distanced outdoor music venue to open in Newcastle in August
Arena at Newcastle Racecourse will feature individual viewing platforms spaced two metres apart

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

03, Jul, 2020 @11:41 AM

Article image
Live music industry sets off alarm bells over ticket and artist monopolies
American firms AEG and Live Nation dominate London's live events

Mark Sweney

29, Jan, 2013 @9:22 PM

Article image
UK music industry outraged over licence fee cost for live-streamed events
A PRS tariff on virtual events grossing less than £500 could make online performances – often raising money for struggling artists and technical staff – ‘grind to a halt’, critics say

Laura Snapes

28, Jan, 2021 @9:13 AM

Article image
Music fans urged to support indie labels after CDs are destroyed in London riots
Arson attack at Sony DADC warehouse in Enfield likely to hit small labels hard as they did not hold stock elsewhere. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

11, Aug, 2011 @10:24 AM

Article image
Mobos founder's open letter highlights racism in UK music industry
Kanya King says event could have collapsed after inaccurate press reports discouraged sponsors

Lanre Bakare

17, Jun, 2020 @4:36 PM