Pub Rock Venues: The Hope & Anchor Revisited
Recently, I made a visit to London, England. Well, it was really more of a pilgrimage. You see, I went with the intent of searching out and seeing the various venues that were significant in the heyday of pub rock. While many had closed such as the Tally Ho and Nashville Room, The Hope & Anchor is still standing. So, it was off to the Hope & Anchor almost immediately after my arrival.
You can view the building, bar and performance space as it exists today through this quick, hand held video I took while I was there (see below).
For those who were there for the music scene in the mid and late 70’s, The Hope & Anchor was one of pub rock’s premier venues. As well as hosting genre favorites such as Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Brinsley Schwarz, Ducks Deluxe, and Graham Parker, one could argue that the place played a significant role in the birth of the greatest record label that ever was, Stiff Records. In fact, Stiff’s Dave Robinson built a makeshift recording studio in the downstairs performance space.
Power pop purists should note that early gigs by one of the genre’s figureheads, The Records, also took place at the Hope & Anchor. I learned this very recently as I had a brief conversation with The Records’ lead singer and co-songwriter John Wicks before leaving for London. He was kind enough to share some observations from back in the day. After that, I had to see it for myself.
When I first arrived, I found a nearly empty bar as I arrived at noon. The bar’s manager was kind enough to take me downstairs to experience as much history as can be absorbed from a ten minute visit to an empty room.
A lot has changed. Dave Robinson’s studio is gone. And the bar is now where the stage was and vice versa. John Wicks shared with me that he believes it was moved around in 1995 or so as it was unchanged at the time he left to move to the United States.
I walked the same length of floor as all those mentioned above. I imagined what it must have been like to see a show in a room so packed with bodies that there was barely room to breathe (the room’s capacity per fire code is only 80!).
It’s worth noting that The Hope & Anchor still does live shows today. The schedule is on the wall as soon as you enter the ground floor bar. If you’re anywhere near The Hope & Anchor, 207 Upper Road, Islington, be sure to check this place out.
Many thanks again to John Wicks of The Records and the staff at The Hope & Anchor for their hospitality (and Rosemary chips!).