'Fund Our Fun': A series celebrating the UK’s music and nightlife industries, and a rallying call to protect them. SEE MORE → Fund Our Fun is a series celebrating the UK’s music and nightlife industries, and a rallying call to protect them. Read more here, and check out our interactive map of at-risk venues here, to find ways to help your local spaces.
Graham Coxon – Lots of venues, London, early 1990s
Blur didn’t do an awful lot of shows before we got picked up by Andy Ross, from Food Records, but the venues we were playing at that point, in the early 90s, were The Lady Owen Arms, The George Robey, The Cricketers at Oval, The Powerhouse in Angel. There’s quite a lot of film footage of us playing in The Square, in Harlow [back when the band were called Seymour, not Blur]. I came straight from art school, wearing my stinking overalls, and I think a pint went over the back of my amplifier and blew up during the evening – they were very, very chaotic shows.All those small venues were full of bands. They were grubby and unpretentious. You chucked your boxes and cases on the stage, set up, and then off you went. It was about a camaraderie – you bumped into bands at your gigs that you played with the other day. There was always a network. After that, it gets a little bit official. You're onstage or offstage, you go to dressing rooms, you don't talk to anybody, you sit bored in your dressing room rather than mixing with anybody.
These were the places where you could just sort of take a risk, and people would look at you like you were mad, but it wasn't the end of the world. It was funny – you’re a little bit tipsy anyway, and it kind of didn't really matter. There wasn’t the pressure. [Playing those early shows] was a playground.