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- Posted on Feb 5th 2010 1:00PM by Barnaby Smith
Come to see: It's difficult to pin down any 'typical' sort of band to play Bush Hall, one of the most highly-regarded small venues in the capital. Granted, the west London club has long enjoyed a reputation as a hub of folk-tinged fare, with shows from the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Kurt Wagner, Shearwater and Elvis Perkins sticking in the memory. Yet Bush Hall serves as an outlet devoted to youthful UK indie too, and particularly as a place where those who are about to become huge play as their star is rising. The venue is also a favourite for big bands looking to play 'intimate' and 'special' small gigs, such as R.E.M and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Just days ago (Feb. 3) Neil Finn played a sold-out low-key gig here too.
The atmosphere: Bush Hall has chandeliers, elegant décor and regular gigs where the audience sits on the floor for the entire show. Add to that a colourful history; initially owned by publisher William F. Hurndall, the venue functioned as a dancehall in the 20s and 30s before serving as a soup kitchen during World War Two. It then had spells as an amusement arcade, a bingo hall and a snooker club. The venue was revamped in 2000, but preserves the quirks of its history along with programming very much in tune with contemporary inclinations.
You saw them here first: Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse performed at Bush Hall before the trappings of fame engulfed them both, while in October 2008 Florence and the Machine enjoyed an evening here. Going back a little further, the Rolling Stones, Cliff Richard and the Who all used Bush Hall as a rehearsal space in the 60s.
Claim to Fame: Bush Hall is a very discerning venue, and as such there are nights where there is no music on whatsoever. So, the owners took the initiative of hosting other things, like fashion shows for instance, including one such event when Bush Hall made it into the gossip pages after Kate Moss showed up and promptly began to thrash away at the Gossip's Beth Ditto with a whip ... in jest, of course. Bush Hall is also known to host comedy nights and film shoots, and is even available to hire for private functions.
You should also know: Hurndall, something of an old-fashioned bounder and rogue, built Bush Hall in 1904 as one of three such halls in London as gifts for his three daughters. However, Hurndall took such a shine to Bush Hall that he ended up converting the room above what is now the gig space into a flat where the old dog would entertain his mistresses. Now that's rock 'n' roll.
Booking now: Beach House, Marina and the Diamonds, Richmond Fontaine, Wooden Shjips, Hope Sandoval.