Bedford Esquires gears up for strongest Independent Venue Week shows to date

Last year was another triumphant one for Esquires with the Bedford venue attracting some of the best up-and-coming acts on the alternative scene while also hosting intimate gigs with legendary names.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 9:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 9:28 am

It will again be taking part in Independent Venue Week which returns at the end of this month to highlight some of the best music venues across the country.

Gareth Barber is the main booker at Esquires, which he bought in 2016 having put on shows as a promoter for more than a decade as one half of The Pad Presents.

He said: “IVW shines a light on these culturally important venues and the people that work within them.

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“We aren't huge corporations or funded venues, they are nearly always owned by local people who love music and provide a hub of creativity for the local community.”

Last year, BBC 6 Music DJ Steve Lamacq stopped off at the venue for his show which each year for IVW travels to some of the independent venues in the country.

“We were very lucky to be featured, explains Mr Barber, “It’s advertising you just can't pay for.

“I think the week is great thing but also adds its own pressures to put together a strong line up.

“This year we have been very lucky - we managed to sort things out quite quickly and got all but one of our targets, which is testament to the work our other promoters do at the venue like Roar Club and Club Biscuit.”

Esquires begins IVW with Toy on Thursday, January 30, which is then followed by BC Camplight on Friday, January 31, Hung Like Hanratty on Saturday, February 1 and Warmduscher on Sunday, February 2.

The shows by BC Camplight and Warmduscher are sold out.

“This year is definitely our strongest so far, with two long-since sold out shows,” explains Mr Barber.

“We're working on a tasty 'pay what you want' showcase for the Saturday too, so things are looking good.”

With independent venues across the UK all competing to offer a strong run of shows, Mr Barber adds it remains a very worthy and important event on the calendar.

He said: “It's definitely getting easier to book good shows and I think the whole profile of the event has increased year upon year.

“Artists are starting to realise it's a good opportunity for them to go out and give something back to the venues and fans by offering a chance to perform in more intimate settings.

“Booking diverse and interesting line ups throughout the whole year is hard enough as it is, IVW is no more of a hassle, if anything it's easier as we are being actively offered artists instead of being on a constant chase.

This year, Esquires will mark its 30th anniversary as a venue, looking back at the last few years Mr Barber added: “Last year was the strongest so far since I took on the venue.

“The line-up and some of the artists that came through far exceeded my expectations with too many highlights to mention.

“We have always reinvested back into the venue to try and improve it and I think the last three to four years of building the reputation back up as one of the best small venues on the circuit has certainly helped - hopefully it carries on in the same vein in 2020.”

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Independent Venue Week gigs at Esquires:

Thursday, January 30, Toy, White Flowers, Butterfly

Friday, January 31, BC Camplight, Katie Malco

Saturday, February 1 Hung Like Hanratty, First Wave Scumbus

Sunday, February 2 Warmduscher, Madonnatron