'I will do whatever I have to': Roadmender on surviving until live music is allowed to return

'If we can get some clarity for planning purposes it would give some hope to the industry but it's a slow process'
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Music venues need some clarity on when live performances will be allowed to return to help owners plan for the future, according to the Roadmender.

The Northampton nightclub and venue has been forced to rely on public donations and grants to survive the coronavirus pandemic but welcomed the new government fund.

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Managing director Dave Norris said: "If we can get some clarity for planning purposes it would give some hope to the industry but it's a slow process."

The Roadmender has been supporting the national campaigns calling for more government backing for the entertainment industry by sharing posts on social media and lighting the building red on Monday night (July 6).

At the same time, more than £7,400 has been donated to a Crowdfunder page to help the venue with the lack of events.

Mr Norris was frustrated that his plan to open in some form on Saturday was scuppered by the ban on live music, having spent £10,000 on equipment.

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"That was awful but it is what it is and we have to get through it," he said.

The Roadmender on Lady's Lane, NorthamptonThe Roadmender on Lady's Lane, Northampton
The Roadmender on Lady's Lane, Northampton

"The government has been good as we would have gone down the pipe if it wasn't the furlough scheme or the grant we received.

"We would have closed otherwise so the generosity of the government has been good but I suppose we are all taxpayers so it's our money anyway."

Mr Norris hopes some guidance will be released this week for music venues, with rumours that rehearsals will be allowed indoors for outdoor events.

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But the Roadmender's only exterior space is the car park so the managing director hopes the government's £1.57 billion pot for the industry will help them until gigs are allowed back inside.

Northampton's slowthai performs at The Roadmender in December 2019. Photo: Dave JacksonNorthampton's slowthai performs at The Roadmender in December 2019. Photo: Dave Jackson
Northampton's slowthai performs at The Roadmender in December 2019. Photo: Dave Jackson

The venue has backed several national campaigns such as Light It Up Red and Let The Music Play to raise awareness of the need to support the businesses and individuals who rely on gigs.

"I'm used to having some kind of plan but the industry isn't talking to each other as there is no plan so we can't put anything in the diary for next year, we're just rescheduling everything this year to next year," he said.

"It's a challenge to survive in this industry, we're up against the big boys like the O2 Academies.

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"The 800-cap venues are missed out as most touring artists want to do the cities and big venues so it's hard but it is what it is and I'm the same as everyone else, it's a hard industry but after 10 years I'm still passionate about it."

Earl Spencer opened the original Roadmender club at a disused factory in Lawrence Street in 1934, moving around the town before settling in Lady's Lane in October 1940.

Over the years, the venue has hosted thousands of gigs by some of the biggest names in music including Oasis, Faith No More, Manic Street Preachers, Enter Shikari and Northampton's own, slowthai.

With the fear of having to wait until potentially 2021 before gigs are allowed to return, Mr Norris is considering offering the Roadmender out for weddings.

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"All 2021 wedding dates are booked up so 2020 weddings can't get it so why not," he said.

"I will do whatever I have to do to get us through this and survive, that's the goal.

"We do it for a passion but it's also our living. It's all a bit strange but we're going to get through to the 'new norm' as I like to call it.

"I hope people fall in line and get on with it until there's a vaccine."