89 Not Out: Day 37, Missing Pompey’s Small Performance Venues

S&C contributor and Pompey Politics Podcast host Ian Morris shares his experience of the lockdown, as someone with diabetes. It’s Day 37 and Ian sadly checks his calendar and realises you really don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, as he looks at a series of cancelled local gigs.

Tuesday 21st April, Day 37 of 89.

There’s only one way of life, and that’s your own…

The opening line to the opening track of, in my opinion, one of the finest albums ever made, Levelling the Land by the Levellers was an iconic album of the early ’90s, calling forth a Libertarian ideal of living on the road free from the pressures of convention and societal norms. 

It’s one of those albums that I ask one of my digital assistants (I have eight of them, but I don’t have a problem…) to belt out from time to time. It takes me back to last February at Portsmouth’s own Wedgewood Rooms.

For those not familiar with this Pompey landmark, it is a small venue that hosts a broad range of live performances to suit almost every taste. What I love most about it – apart from the fact they have Red Stripe on tap – is that for most of the year I look at their line-up and ask, ‘Who?’

The announcement of ska-post-country-dubstep-combo Arthur Strange and the Hillbilly Biscuit has me dazed and confused, but then I find an act I know, and for a very modest price indeed can take in a live band. We don’t do it often but as I look ahead in my calendar now, I can’t help but lament what I am missing out on. If any of them were half as good as the Levellers were, then we would have had a cracking night out. 

Sunday 9th May would have seen me at Flo and Joan, a comedy duo of singing sisters. On Wednesday 6th May, I  had intended to go and see Grace Petrie, who in her own words ‘sings about social protests and sad lesbian break ups’, so doesn’t get booked for many weddings. If you haven’t heard her before, ask your digital assistant to give her work a spin. This strange scenario of two gigs in a week was then going to be further supplemented by the wonderful Kate Rusby at the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth.

Three gigs in five days – rock and roll!

But sadly, all have been rearranged for later in the year or into 2021, and I can’t help crossing my fingers and hoping beyond hope that all of our venues – particularly these 2 smaller ones – are still there to host them. It has made me reflect that although I like them in principal, perhaps they were already at risk from the Woolworths effect: when it closed down everyone said they loved Wooliesbut asked when was the last time they shopped there, nobody was ever sure.

So when the lockdown ends and live music or comedy is available again, I  think we all need to make a bit of an effort and get along.

I might even check out Arthur Strange and the Hillbilly Biscuit…


Don’t miss Ian’s diary each day, keep an eye out for new entries here, along with past editions of the Pompey Politics Podcast. How are you managing the lockdown at the moment? Get in touch with us over on Facebook or Twitter and let us know your experiences and any hints and tips you’re finding helpful right now.

Image by SEThproduction via Pixabay.

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