Former 12 Bar set to return to Denmark Street
Restoring Soho's musical heritage is a key aim of Outernet. The loss of the iconic Astoria venue to Crossrail's Tottenham Court Road redevelopment will be remedied with a brand new 2000 capacity venue and several smaller music spaces.
It's arguably the small music shops and entertainment venues that give Soho much of its unique character. So let's talk about the much lamented 12 Bar, which lost its permanent home in Denmark Street in 2015 and whose trademark subsequently lapsed due to non-use.
First opened in 1994, The 12 Bar Club played host to artists early in their career including Jeff Buckley, Damien Rice and The Libertines, but it also gave a leg-up to several of my mates' bands who were nowhere near as good. However, it is possibly best known for its association with the so called 'Thamesbeat' movement of the mid-noughties; hosting artists included Jamie T and a young women with the chat of a scaffolder, but a singing voice like melting chocolate; Adele.
Recently, I was given a glimpse behind the curtain of the Outernet London construction site by contractor Skanska. Amazingly they have preserved every brick and graffiti scrawl of the original 12 Bar and have it trussed up in a protective palette ready to be re-instated in its original location on Denmark Street.
A quick look on Google shows there was a fairly acrimonious battle in 2015 to 'save' the 12 Bar from temporary closure, but anyone who has frequented Denmark Street in the past five years would be hard pressed to deny that it needs a vision for the future in order to thrive and attract a new generation of music artists and fans. Clearly the area around Tottenham Court Road and Centre Point is rapidly evolving and Outernet is committed to embracing the disruption of Crossrail and using the massively increased footfall to spotlight ALL the shops and venues of Denmark Street; Britain's 'Tin Pan Alley', known affectionately as the birthplace of British rock and roll. Moving the protected ‘Smithy’ building has been key to preserving the architecture of the 12 Bar and ensuring it remains a live music venue regardless of whether agreement can be reached regarding the name.