A requiem for the Luminaire.

I just returned from the last of many gigs I saw at the Luminaire, and indeed, the last ever gig there.

The bands playing were SPC ECO (whom I, alas, missed), Ringo Deathstarr (a band from Texas who are one of the better exponents of the shoegaze revival, mixing it with a bit of driving garage rock) and the latest incarnation of noir expressionists Piano Magic, whose first song, appropriately enough, began with “Music won’t save you from anything but silence”.

The Luminaire was (it feels odd to use the past tense, knowing it’s accurate as of maybe an hour ago as I write this) one of London’s better music venues. It suffered from being in the wrong part of London, in Kilburn, in the north-west, when the music scene started to solidify around the hipster lek of Shoreditch/Hoxton/Dalston. However, it had a number of advantages: a great atmosphere, good sound, and the famous signs on the walls, advising punters, in no uncertain terms, that if they came to talk to their pals while the band was playing, they were unwelcome. This made it more amenable to listening to the music, even if the bands weren’t balls-to-the-wall rock; you knew the bands didn’t have to compete with a bunch of loud haircuts at the front, standing with their backs to the stage and discussing who’s shagging whom in fashion school.

Now, the music has stopped and the punters have left. Soon they’ll paint over the famous black walls, sandblast the layers of stickers off the bathrooms, and remove the red velvet curtains and mirror ball, and so, a sacred space is deconsecrated. Perhaps it’ll become luxury flats, or be subdivided into cheap, miserable bedsits.

I remember the loss of another sacred space of music, nine years earlier and half a world away. It’s now a trendy pizza parlour which plays canned house/dance music to its fashion-conscious patrons, its artificially distressed walls adorned with an oversized kewpie doll. Before then, it was the place legends were born. The Lucksmiths wrote a song in memory of this venue; it’s playing as I write this, in memory of it, the Luminaire and all other sacred spaces now lost.

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