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Farewell, Independent PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ian Mason   
19 02 2013
ImageJanuary saw a lot of things musically, but pivotally for the people of Sunderland the closing of our one real venue for live music, Independent. For those of us of a certain age it was the watering hole of choice under its previous guise of Bar 36, for me personally it's been a venue I've frequented for over a decade. 

Sunderland at the moment is going through a golden age musically, it stands out that recently The Cluny, one of Newcastle's key venues held its ten year anniversary, eight bands played over four days to celebrate it, seven of those were from Sunderland. For as long as I can remember, Independent or Bar 36 has been the showcase for music in Sunderland. Its held gigs featuring bigger musicians such as Snow Patrol, The Zutons and Erol Alkan, but more importantly for Sunderland, been a platform for local musicians such as The Futureheads, Frankie & The Heartstrings, Wodensthrone and Field Music. 

Everyone of musical orientation in Sunderland has a story to tell when it comes to Independent. Be it meeting your boy or girlfriend, staggering down the death trap that is the stairs at the entrance either willingly or with that added help that venue security are always ever so happy to offer, discovering over proof spirits for the first time or finding that inexplicable bruise on your leg the day after the night before, everyone has a tale. For me, all of the above, I'm sure most people are same. 

For those of us from Sunderland, with such a fantastic scene for live music, whatever your preference it is always a sore subject that Newcastle has such a wealth of venues for live music, whereas Sunderland is so desperately lacking. The addition of big stadium concerts at the football club in recent years is a start, but for bands at ground level, there isn't a whole lot away from Independent. 

With the local council taking the opportunity to undergo admittedly much needed renovations within the city centre, its calling of time on the leasehold of Independent is a sad consequence. While the owners have acquired premises elsewhere to open the aptly named, Independent 2, the loss of the spiritual home of this generation of locally produced music is a sad goodbye to have to say.

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