This week, we find out more about The Half Moon, Putney, London.
We spoke to the assistant to the Music Manager, Phil Atkinson, who tells us about their renowned new music nights, their unique ties to Pink Floyd and U2, and how Elvis Costello performed for sandwiches...
- The Half Moon, 93 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, London, SW15 1EU
- Established: 1963
- Capacity: 220
Tell us a little about the venue and your role there.
The Half Moon is a traditional pub with a 220 capacity music venue. I'm the assistant to the Music Manager. We have been hosting gigs on a regular basis since at least 1963 (we have a framed poster advertising Folksville here in 1963), and we have anecdotal evidence that tell us gigs were being held here much earlier - holding tea dances between the first and second World Wars).
Has the venue gone through any major changes since it opened (location, renovation, style of music etc)?
The venue has stayed largely true to its roots. We still mainly host blues, rock and folk music, but it's important to give new music a place to play, no matter the genre. Monday nights are the most eclectic, with new acts getting 30 minutes to showcase brand-new material across all musical genres.
How many gigs or club nights a week do you host?
We generally have 9 shows per week (one on each night and matinees on Saturday & Sundays).
Which band that's played your venue has gone on to be the best known?
Which band that played your venue deserved/deserves to be better known than they are?
Ruarri Joseph from the band William The Conqueror. Ruarri has been playing here for a number of years (and features on our live album) - a fantastic musician and songwriter. The fantastic Sophie And The Giants had a residency here. Keep your eye on them as they are destined for big things. We also had a brand-new band called Novacub that played on one of our Monday nights (mentioned above). They blew me away.
Do you host events besides gigs and club nights?
We occasionally host music quizzes in the venue. The venue also lends itself well to comedy and spoken word. Our comedy nights have hosted the likes of Jack Dee, Sara Pascoe, Stewart Lee, Richard Herring, Aisling Bea, Jack Whitehall, Billy Connelly and Josh Widdecombe, to name a few.
If you could change one thing about the live music industry, what would it be?
For some bands/promoters (not all!) to fully understand the importance of smaller venues. We provide acts with the platform on which to learn their craft. I must stress this is a tiny minority of bands - Bono gave The Half Moon a shout-out at U2's recent gig at Twickenham Stadium!
What's been your proudest moment working at your venue?
We've recently (May 2018) had Pink Floyd's Nick Mason performing here for three nights under Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets. This was Nick's first live musical outing since Pink Floyd played at the 2005 Live 8 concert in London. Seeing Pink Floyd's legendary drummer on our stage, performing material from Pink Floyd's first two albums, was a unique experience and one that will live in my memory for a long time.
Has the venue ever been threatened with closure? If so, what could have been done to prevent it/support you?
The venue was threatened with closure back in 2010. A petition began, which gained 6,500 signatures. Thankfully the pub/venue was bought out by Geronimo Inns, who continue to own it today.
What's the best show you've put on recently?
Are there any interesting facts/stories about the venue that people might not know, but should?!
Famously, The Rolling Stones used to play here back in the early 60s - but they actually played a private gig here on 3rd May 2000. Kate Bush's first public performance was here - as was the first UK sell-out show for U2. Steve Marriott had a residency and played his last UK gig here before his untimely passing. Elvis Costello had a residency here, and was paid in sandwiches. Kasabian toured their first album here, and Ed Sheeran supported Hayseed Dixie!