It doesn’t seem possible that Under the Bridge has been open for less than a year already. Around this time in 2010 we were positioning the last of the iconic rock photographs on the wall and tweaking the sound system and lights.
It has been an amazing year since and we feel (and hope) we are building a reputation as the most exciting new venue in London. We have big plans and lots of exciting events to come in 2012 but we thought we’d revisit some of our highpoints of the year about to end.
We have to start with Bluesfest London. We were proud to be used as a venue for a great diversity of performers in the fields of blues, jazz and funk: Blind Boys of Alabama, Max Weinberg, Incognito, Trombone Shorty, Booker T, Dr John and Jamie Cullum.
The crowds were fantastic and there were some amazing nights, including some wonderfully intimate moments including this one with young Mr Cullum and his brother Ben (on guitar and backing vocals) performing ‘These Are The Days’.
Few at the front will forget being up close and personal with the voodoo skull and lobster claw on top of Dr John’s piano. His encore of ‘Such A Night’ – including crowd participation – was truly memorable. BBC Radio 2 carried audio of the Dr John session, while Planet Rock radio held a special acoustic performance and with Free/Bad Company/Queen ledge Paul Rogers which included a Q&A with fans.
The same intimacy applied to shows by James Morisson and Bruno Mars – both usually only seen in much larger and impersonal arenas in the autumn.
The Londonist captured the vibe: ‘Under The Bridge’s stage is achingly honest in its intimacy with the audience and there’s no hiding place for Morrison, so he embraces the appreciative crowd with an epic show of exclusive professionalism.’
James’s concert debut of Amy Winehouse’s hit ‘Love Is A Losing Game’ was given a new urgency when he was so close to the audience. We also hosted showcases for the delightful Ellie Goulding – awarded Showcase of the Year by Event magazine; the Umusic Fest for Universal with Kaizer Chiefs, Rizzle Kicks and Maverick Sabre; and an I.L.M.C. event featuring The Guillemots.
Under The Bridge’s interior design makes it a popular backdrop for TV filming too. We have hosted the Album Chart Show (with Pixie Lott and Matt Cardle), the reality TV smash Made In Chelsea, and Born To Shine. We also figured on the BBC1’s ‘Football Focus’.
Then, of course, Beyoncé staged a très glam party with us after launching her fashion label in London.
She was obviously impressed because a Chelsea FC shirt appeared in the video for her next single, ‘Party’!
(We’ve had lots of other private bookings, by the way, and we’re always happy to accommodate for private functions.)
The quality and diversity of shows open to the public was just what we are aiming for. From comebacks for Adam Ant and Finley Quaye, new jazz from Yolanda Brown, the evergreen brilliance of Mavis Staples, not to mention the emerging talent of Ellie Goulding, Under the Bridge proved itself just about the most versatile and adaptable setting in the capital.
From The Jam, original member Bruce Foxton’s Jam tribute act, hailed the boisterous night Under The Bridge as just about the best of their tour. See them ignite ‘Going Underground’ and ‘Pretty Green’.
The year ended with several more highlights: two great ska/rocksteady revival nights with the ever-popular Hotknives, followed by The Dualers, a second-generation 2-Tone act with a growing live reputation. In early December The Dualers smashed it at UTB when joined on stage by Jamaican legend Dave Barker to perform ‘Ska Ska Ska’.
Finally, just before Christmas, we were honoured that UK music greats the Brand New Heavies chose Under The Bridge to host their 20th anniversary celebrations. We loved the Heavies’ Simon Bartholomew’s take on our artist photos.
So, we thank everyone who has attended or contributed to a wonderful first year for Under the Bridge. We’re doing our best to make 2012 even more special, so keep watching for gig details, and we hope to see you again very soon.