Let’s put The Limelight back in the limelight

22 06 2010

**As originally published on TheUnsignedGuide.com – June 2010**

I started a blog recently listing the Top 5 venues in Belfast when the news came in that the one(s) that I had pencilled in to top the list had just gone into administration. It was pretty shocking news, to me at least; the bars and venues that hosted the majority of my boozy times since starting University almost a decade ago, aren’t actually rolling in it after all. Wow. I know I don’t go as much as I used to now that I’ve got a full time job but I thought they’d cope.. I didn’t drink that much, did I?

The pub chains, CDC Leisure Ltd and Tarwood Limited were appointed an Administrator on 15 June. The business includes Auntie Annie’s, Katy Daly’s, The Limelight and The Spring & Airbrake. The venues will continue to trade as normal while they “assess all potential future options”. The directors of the companies bought the venues for a reported £13m in 2007. Belfast musos are in shock – there’s a Facebook group to join (‘Save CDC Leisure!’), talk of a ‘rally’ and a benefit gig – it’d take quite a few benefit gigs to turn around a company that was bought at that price, but the fact that people care so much is testament to CDC Leisure.

Indeed, I’ve organised events in CDC venues and they’ve been nothing but helpful and easy to work with. And the pubs themselves are amongst the few in Belfast where it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing or what you look like, you can go and have a laugh, there’s no pretenses and no hassle. Not to mention the sheer number of bands that have played there over the years, you name ’em, they’ve played there – The Strokes, Oasis, Franz Ferdinand, Jeff Buckley, the list literally goes on and on and on. I remember one of the first gigs I saw there was Ash in 2000, when they were supported by a little known indie band from Bangor, Snow Patrol. Not that I actually saw Snow Patrol that night, I was still outside trying to formulate a plan to get past the bouncers while they were playing. Oh, to be seventeen again.

It’d be a HUGE shame if these venues stopped trading. Aside from the fact that they’re top boozers, CDC also organise a massive number of top gigs in Belfast – not just in their own venues but throughout the city – so the live music scene would be significantly worse off without them.

So if you were thinking about picking up tickets to a gig, now’s the time to do it. And if you’re like me and used to spend several nights a week in the Limelight as a student, maybe it’s time we had a reunion and did it again, not just for nostalgia’s sake, but for the sake of live music in Belfast.





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