Friday, 19 July 2013

A night at the Empire

Last night I visited a venue I have always been curious about but like probably most Bushers have never actually ventured inside. The Shepherd's Bush Empire, like its' sister in Hackney, is a London institution. Built in 1903 it functioned as a BBC theatre for a lot of the 20th century until the 1990s. Since then it has played host to bands such as the one I saw last night, a New Zealand outfit called The Black Seeds.

The band themselves were excellent, they're a kind of experimental UB40, basing most of their songs on reggae but building a lot more layers on top. There are 6 or 7 on stage at any one time including saxophone and trumpet!

The bar queue
Anyway back to the venue. It reminded me a lot of the pictures we saw from the inside of the old pavilion in terms of design and decor with an ornate Victorian balcony for the stalls. If you are upstairs you get to see the crowd slowly build below ... at one point I thought it was going to be tiny but the drifters soon became a packed house. Which was also the case for the downstairs bar, which was under constant siege by a ten deep queue - don't bother unless you're really thirsty and don't mind spending nearly a fiver per pint.

The security guys on the door hand out wristbands to let people go out and come in, mainly for the purposes of smoking, but I saw a lot just nip over to the Green pub and enjoy a cheeky pint instead! Overall the venue seems to be well run and and I'd definitely go again; so if you haven't yet seen it for yourself check out their website and take your pick!

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