The future of The Fleece looks bright

The-FleeceThe owner of Bristol’s premiere rock and metal venue, The Fleece, hopes that its future has been secured.

The club, which has been open for 32 years, was under threat earlier this year when planning permission was sought to convert an office building opposite the site in to a block of flats. Similar projects in other areas of the country have lead to the closure of clubs when new residents start to complain of the noise.

Fleece owner Chris Sharp was unsatisfied with reports that his club would not cause a problem for potential new flat owners, and commissioned his own study. The resulting report led to the recommendation that the developers of the flats would need to ensure that additional soundproofing would be required to be installed during the building process. Sharp had already carried out soundproofing work at The Fleece.

Developers at first threatened to continue the build without the newly recommended level of soundproofing, but Bristol City Council have now branded their position a “bullying” strategy and have enforced a set of restrictions when granting approval for the flats. They include permanently sealing windows that face The Fleece, and the use of mechanical ventilation.

Additionally, developers won’t be allowed to let anyone move in to the flats until they’ve ensured noise from The Fleece doesn’t affect living standards in the building.

Said Sharp of the ruling: “This is a really positive day for our Save The Fleece campaign. We’re delighted the city council applied conditions to the approval notice, and we’re satisfied the measures will considerably reduce the likelihood of noise complaints.”

“Our fight is far from over as the developer still has the right to appeal,” he continued, “but the future of the venue is definitely looking brighter.”

Following the relaxation of planning laws in the UK, and the current noise control laws, just one complaint from a nearby resident can result in a venue’s license being revoked. Both The Blind Tiger club in Brighton and the 200 Club in Newport have closed recently as a result of similar issues.

Sharp’s “Save The Fleece Campaign” had secured around 41,500 signatories for it’s online petition aimed at ensuring the future of the club.

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Michael Eavis: ‘No band has been as keen to play Glastonbury as Metallica’

Michael Eavis

Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis has said that no band has been as keen to play the festival as Metallica.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live Eavis said: “”There’s no other band in the whole history of the festival that has been so keen to play, they will do the best set of their lives here.”

Earlier this year Metallica were announced as the headline act for the Saturday night of the festival, sparking immediate controversy at the choice of a heavy metal band.

“We have been going for so long that people don’t expect us to put on a heavy metal band,” Eavis continued. “We had Rage Against The Machine and we have had lots of fairly heavy metal bands in the past, but this is not a typical headline.”

Further controversy sprung up around Metallica’s set when frontman James Hetfield revealed that he would be narrating a documentary series about bear hunting, indicating that he was a keen hunter himself. A petition was started to try and have the band removed from the festival bill, stating that hunting was not in the spirit of the Glastonbury ethos.

Speaking to NME, festival organiser Emily Eavis said: “”They [Metallica] are an incredible live force. It’ll be an incredible show here and we’re totally up for it.” She also spoke about the debate concerning their set, saying: “The more opinion the better, in a way. It’s great people are talking about it, it’s going to make for something really interesting. And that’s what people should be doing, talking about it.”

Lars Ulrich Live ShotMeanwhile, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has been defending their appearance. “Glastonbury is like the Holy Grail in England and we’re respectful to that,” Ulrich told Metal Hammer, “but when somebody sits there and talks about petitions or what some other guy says, there’s a point that it just becomes ridiculous. We’re fairly thick-skinned and turn a blind eye to it or whatever, but if Mick Jagger, or Alex Turner, or the very nice guys in Kasabian who I love, it’s cool. But at some point, when there’s some guy in some other band… it’s like ‘Huh? What? Who are you?'”

“We’re definitely on a roll. We’re warmed up, loosened up and fit for a fight. We’re ready to go!” he concluded.

Glastonbury festival takes place between the 25th and 29th of June, with Metallica headlining the Saturday night. Their fellow headliners are Arcade Fire and Kasabian.

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Bristol rock venue The Fleece ‘under threat’

The-FleeceThe owner of legendary Bristol live music venue, The Fleece, has said that the club is under threat from closure.

Plans have been submitted to the local authority for the conversion of a nearby office block into 80 residential flats. The plans suggest that some bedrooms would be just 20 metres from The Fleece’s stage.

The venue’s supporters fear that this would lead to noise complaints and subsequent closure of the club. Similar events have played out in recent months with the closure of several British live music venues.

The Blind Tiger Club in Brighton, which had been hosting live performances for 160 years, shut down earlier this week as a result of a noise abatement order following a complaint from one neighbour. Manchester’s Night And Day was threatened with closure in January after a similar situation arose. The 200 Club in Newport was shut last year after noise complaints.

Chris Sharp, owner of The Fleece, has started an online petition to stop the conversion of the flats going ahead. You can sign it by clicking here.

Says Sharp: “”The venue has thrived for 32 years and one of the key factors in its success has been its location.

“The lack of residents in the surrounding streets has meant we can offer live music seven nights a week, and club nights until 4am on weekends, without disturbing anyone.

“The Fleece has never had any issues with noise complaints. If the office block next door is converted into private flats, we anticipate a deluge of complains as soon as people move in.”

A report commissioned by Bristol City Council concluded that The Fleece would not be the main noise concern in the area, but the club’s Marketing Manager, Nathan Stone, disagrees.

“We employed another acoustic consultant to analyse the original findings,” says Stone, “and we believe they are invalid due to a range of considerations. They didn’t look at low frequency noises and their microphones weren’t placed to identify noise coming from the venue.”

The second report also adds that balconies are planned for the part of the office block overlooking the Fleece, and that “noise levels will be unacceptably high.”

Sharp’s petition calls on Bristol City Council to deny planning permission for the flats and therefore remove the threat of closure from The Fleece. The petition has a target of 100,000 signatures, and has accrued around 19,000 to date.

You can help support Chris Sharp’s cause to save The Fleece by signing the petition here.

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Under The Skin: Save Camden Campaign


As you may have noticed, Skin Back Alley is all about music. Once in a while, though, something comes along that deserves support and publicity.

This is one of those times.

Here in the UK, the government is proposing to build a new high speed rail link, connecting northern parts of England to London. All sounds great, doesn’t it.

Unfortunately, that plan involves a great deal of destruction in Camden – an historic, vibrant and culturally rich part of the capital. It is home to the famous Camden Market, numerous independent shops and restaurants, and great music venues such as the Barfly and Underworld that provide important outlets for many and varied artists and performers.

A ‘Save Camden’ campaign has been launched locally, detailing the following:

“[The government] has chosen to do this [build HS2] by rebuilding the North London line between the two points and installing two new lines. Although 6.3 km will be tunnelled, 2.3km will run straight through the heart of Camden, unnecessarily causing devastating loss and damage. 7 bridges will be demolished or rebuilt; homes and shops will be demolished; 1 national freight line lost; 13 new construction compounds, 2 major engineering head houses and numerous material stockpiles will be built. Camden Lock Market, one of the UK’s top 10 tourist destinations, will be lost or ruined. Losses to Camden’s famous creative industries are estimated to be in excess of £600 million, plus 9000 jobs. The scale of construction is gigantic. There will be significant road closures and traffic construction fanning out from Camden to Bloomsbury and Swiss Cottage for over a decade, plus an extra 600 lorry movements per day. Residents’ health is at risk: there are no plans to protect them from adverse air quality, dust, vibration and noise levels. But it does not have to be this way. Tunnelling the link under Camden would either negate or massively reduce all the other impacts…”

So, for the first time at Skin Back Alley, we’re having a political moment in order to try and help the campaign to preserve this vital and vibrant community. Political yes, but in a way it is still very much about the arts and music in particular.

Therefore it would be very much appreciated if you could click HERE and add your name to the list of 30,000+ people who have already done so in order that we might have our voices heard, and persuade the UK government to think again about how they deliver HS2.

With thanks.

Normal service is now resumed.

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Petition calls for intersection to be renamed ‘Beastie Boys Square’

Pauls BoutiqueA petition has been launched calling for the intersection that features on the cover of Beastie Boys album Paul’s Boutique to be renamed ‘Beastie Boys Square.’

Fans are signing the petition, which was started by Brooklyn resident LeRoy McCarthy, in a bid to have the name of the corner of Ludlow Street and Rivington Street changed.

McCarthy writes: “The album, released July 25th 1989, was groundbreaking, and it encompassed these Boys from NYC, rapping about life and times from their point of view. Because of the album cover photo, and the Beastie Boys were ever-changing NYC artists, the location of Ludlow Street and Rivington Street would be a great place to honor Beastie Boys with a corner co-naming.”

In May of this year, a ceremony took place to rename a Brooklyn playground The Adam Yauch Playground. Yauch, a.k.a Beastie Boys rapper MCA, died in May 2012 following a battle with cancer. He had been a former Brooklyn resident and visited the playground, formerly called the Palmetto Playground, as a child.