There is something to be said for noble causes. As a few friends and I crept in a little late to London’s Union Club, Tim Arnold was explaining his noble cause; saving music in Soho.
Soho has a long history of creativity. Musicians and theatrical thespians were once at home in the Soho Square. Lately, the internationally renowned problem of gentrification has been playing its part to force the artists, musicians, rogues and philanthropists to further fields. Their old haunts exchanged for new, exclusively expensive cocktail bars masquerading as wood paneled age old venues.
I remember many moons ago wondering in to the welcomingly hip Black Dahlia and being surprised by what I found inside. Watching Jazz singers with smoke laden voices sing between walls which had stories to tell. If only they could speak. It closed down in 2010, as have many other venues, both intentional and makeshift (the impromptu parties at Deal Real on a Friday being a sign of the makeshift).
There’s a subtle irony then that it is the private members clubs in the area which have signed up to #SaveSoho and ensure affordable nights stay in the area. Then again, perhaps there is no irony at all because it is these very private members which have stood firm, creating storied histories through wave after wave of gentrification and social change.
Which brings us back to Tim Arnold and his noble cause, saving affordable music in Soho with a night called The Reservation. The line up of Iraina Mancini and Jessica Lee Morgan alongside Tim Arnold himself represented a carefully curated selection of locally sourced talent.
The intimate setting of the Union Club meant there was no space for amps and the like so each musician performed acoustic. The organic sound made for a comfortable, almost homelike setting. It felt like this could have been a concert in the living room of a dear friend. The attention was on the music, the usual back of the room chatter banished to the stairwells and adjacent rooms, very much out of earshot. It was stirring to hear some of the songs stripped back so bare, something the venue almost demanded.
Saving Soho needs support and it feels like these gigs will not be regular occurences, more one off evenings to enjoy great locally sourced music amongst the grandeur of famed members clubs.
Wondering off in to the Soho night after the show and a quick chat to the Union Club host, I was full of optimism. I hope Tim Arnold succeeds in his mission.
The next Reservation takes place on Monday October 5th. Tickets are £11 and available online – here.