The Half Moon, Putney

With Independent Venue Week almost upon us, we quiz Carrie Davies from Putney’s Half Moon on the importance of live performance to the UK’s musical grassroots.

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 27 Jan 2014
  • min read
Independent Venue Week, a seven day celebration of live music and Britain’s smaller music haunts, takes place this week.

The initiative will highlight the importance of live gigs to the careers of fledgling bands and the role of the UK’s network of smaller venues in giving new acts an opportunity to hone their musical skills.

The majority of popular British artists cut their teeth on these stages but, with a lack of funding and continual snipping from local authorities, many smaller venues are at risk. The week, which runs 28 January – 2 February, will bring 18 venues together to shout about their importance and we’ll be featuring interviews with the venues and artists involved.

In the first of a series of interviews, we quizzed Carrie Davies from the Half Moon in Putney on the success of the venue and the health of live music in her area… 

When was the venue founded?

The Half Moon has been hosting shows since the early 60s - we're still tracing how far back we can go!

What’s it like running a venue in your area?

Putney is a very nice part of south-west London. It’s only three miles from London's West End but can feel like it's miles away! So the Half Moon has always been a little bit of an island really. There are few venues in this area and sadly we've seen quite a few fall by the wayside over the years.

How did you start working at the venue?

From running pubs, studying for a history degree, a teaching qualification and a love of music! I first started working at the Half Moon in 1997 and although I've left twice, it keeps pulling me back.

Do you remember the first gig you went to?

My dad is a drummer so I went to plenty of his gigs. However, my first proper gig was watching the Hot House Flowers when I was 12 years old. My friend and I travelled up from Kent with her parents to go to Wembley Arena. I remember the crowds, the noise and the sheer size of the place! 

How can artists get to play at your venue?

Get in touch with me - email is always best   

It's the most amazing opportunity for small venues and I feel very honoured that we are included. The team have been incredibly supportive and have worked so hard for all the venues too.

Small venues face battles every day. It takes so much hard work and luck just to break even in the business so to have this helping hand has been fantastic!

How important is playing live in the career of a band?

I think it is crucial for bands at all stages of their career. It encourages creativity within a band too. It's great for an act to play around with different versions of tracks, playing out live and keeping it exciting is good for the group and good for the fans. Gigs create a relationship between the band and the fans and to see fans interacting with a live band is what it's all about for me! Live shows help create faithful fans and faithful fans bring the money in. So these days playing live is very important financially for bands across all levels.  

What’s the most memorable gig to take place at your venue?

There have been many: Kate Bush had her first live show here, Elvis Costello's enjoyed a residency that earned him a plate of sarnies and 50p per gig while Bo Diddley playing here en route to Wembley in 1981.

The Rolling Stones hired us out for a private show in 2000, Kasabian literally blew the roof off in 2006. An unknown Ed Sheeran also supported a sold out show here and almost every single person came up to us on the door afterwards to ask who he was!

Is live music in good health in your area?

2013 was our best year yet. Over 35,000 people came to our gigs and over 700 artists were booked. Not bad for a little 200 capacity venue on the outskirts of town!

Which new musical talents to have played at your venue are you tipping to succeed in 2014?

The Amazing Snakeheads are amazing. They’re signed to Domino and play our show here on 28th. Port Isla, Tripwires, The Black White, The Greasy Slicks, Will Heard and an amazing French band called Theodore, Paul et Gabriel have all blown us away too!

The Half Moon will be hosting a showcase from Domino Records on 28 January as part of the first night of Independent Venue Week.

Archie Bronson Outfit and The Amazing Snakeheads will both be performing at the gig.

Visit the IVW website to pick up tickets for the gig and the other shows taking place.