Was a time when the scent of romance hovered about the decision to go out to the theatre.
In those far off days theatres had names like The Adelphi, The Odeon and The Palace. Even the humble Roxys and Essoldos were touched with a faintly exotic charm.
The magic began to wear off, for me, when the Hammermsmith Odeon was taken over by Labatts and then by Carling. The addition of the name of a beer company on the front of Odeon was just plain wrong.
Yes, I know Hammersmith Odeon was originally a Gaumont Palace, and I know these were both commercial ventures, but dammit they were lovely names with a ring to them. They were chosen to sound good and they did sound good.
The change to Labatts and Carling and now HMV is simply a matter of re-branding, of corporatisation, of identity massaging. As a shop I’m quite fond of HMV – it is steeped in the history of the music business almost since day one – but as a prefix stuck on the front of the names of dozens of lovely old venues, I’m not at all smitten by it.
Nowadays, of course, almost every venue in the UK is either an O2 or an Academy or both.
Given half a chance they’d re-name the queen’s pad in London as the O2 Buckingham Palace.
I shouldn’t really grumble because things here are not half as bad as they are across the Atlantic where the hapless residents of Englewood, Colorado, have to go out to see their favourite artists in the Comfort Dental Amphitheatre. Back East in Bristow, Virginia you can mosh the night away at The Jiffy Lube Live Amphitheatre. No, I’m not joking. That’s real. And there’s plenty more where that came from.
What possible romance could there be in strolling into the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre (it’s in Tampa, Florida) with your best girl or guy on your arm? It’s so blatantly a temple of consumerism that the very name cheapens the music you’ve come to see.
The 100 Club, The Marquee, The Rainbow, The Roseland Ballroom, The Matrix, The Gaslight – those are names to conjure with, names to enrich your dreams.
These days even Bob Dylan plays in places called The Blockbuster Pavilion, The Interior Savings Centre and The Citizens Business Bank.
So, anyway, on the basis that if you don’t laugh you’ll cry, we might as well have a little bit of fun with this depressing phenomenon. May I invite some lists or suggestions that tie in with this theme of re-naming and re-branding?
1. What would be the most inappropriate re-branding of a venue or a building of any sort for that matter? You know the sort of thing I mean – The Virginia Plain Cancer Hospital. the Estee Lauder Because You’re Worth It Battered Wives Refuge.
2. What’s the worst venue name you know of that already exists?
3. What’s the best, most-cherished venue name that you can remember?