Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Apr 30th 2010 7:45AM by Jody Thompson
Come to see: Essentially a pub with a red velvet-swagged stage in the backroom (with the smallest dressing room in the world next to it,) the Water Rats is a little musical oasis in an otherwise pretty rough part of town. Bands have such an affection for the place that even when they get massive, they still return for one-off fan gigs, like Editors did in January. Other big-act-in-a-little-venue dates over the past year or so have included ones from Katy Perry Cribs, Ash, Wild Beasts and Alphabeat. Mostly though, it's embryonic rock and indie on a nightly basis, though venue promoters Monto do come in for some criticism for not putting more thought into how they put their 'five-band indie conveyor belt' bills together. Mind you, there's usually at least one gem to see, plus it never usually costs you more than six quid (nine bucks) to get in, so it's worth taking a chance.
The atmosphere: Friendly, a bit grimy, intimate and oh-so-indie. Surprisingly good draught beer and the food ain't bad either. Ancient air con means it gets roasting hot in the summer -- but on the upside, you can get so close to the stage, it'll be the band's sweat dripping on you first. If you like that sort of thing, of course.
You saw them here first: A whole host of acts took their first tentative footsteps on the tiny stage of the Water Rats including Bob Dylan, who played one of his first ever UK gigs here in December 1962, as well as lesser luminaries such as Ra Ra Riot, Hard Fi and the Darkness. After all, the Rats is one of the mainstays on the so-called 'toilet circuit,' so any outfit worth their salt would have trodden the boards here at one point.
Claim to Fame: Alongside Dylan, Oasis' debut London performance was at the Rats in January 1994, and the Pogues first-ever show took place here in October 1982.
You should also know: The Grand Order of Water Rats -- from which the venue takes its name -- still meet once a month on the first floor, which is closed to the public. The charity fund-raising organisation and social club is kind of like the Masons, but its members are all old showbiz duffers. King Rat is currently Derek Martin, aka 'EastEnders' character Charlie Slater. Until 1992, the place was called The Pinder Of Wakefield.
Booking now: The Telescopes, Art vs. Science, Guana Bats, James Taylor Quartet, Delays, the Nightingales, Love Amongst Ruin