The Luminaire is the Greatest Rock Club of ALL TIME

Not least because of the cheap Thai food from the pub downstairs.

The Low Lows were back at the Luminaire in London last night. I have never been happier in my life to climb two flights of steps to the second story of a club. We played with Chicago band Catfish Haven and Swedish Americana band Amandine. (I love typing that- “Swedish Americana Band…”)

Just before I left the States, I was able to spend the weekend with my grandfather and we went fishing for catfish in Alabama. He caught two of the largest catfish I have ever seen. I caught one little old bass and, quite honestly, I’ve smoked bigger cigars than that little fish. Anyway, playing with a band with the word “catfish” in their name reminded me of that.

W.I.Z. turned up, even though he had thought he was going to be out of town with his girlfriend’s band. We had dinner together and then pretty much dashed upstairs for the last few minutes of Amandine’s set before throwing all of our gear onstage and setting to the task at hand.

Here’s where the magic of the Luminaire really shows itself, though. The sound at the Luminaire is probably better than any club where I have ever played. The onstage mix is heaven. It’s like Matt the soundman has wired the monitor mix right into my cerebral cortex. I hear everything flawlessly, and that always relaxes me as a player. Once we’re completely comfortable up there, we can get to doing what we do without nagging little distractions. This makes for great shows, and last night was no exception.

OK, so the fantastic Thai food and the flawless mix are two reasons why the Luminaire is the Greatest Rock Club of all time, and here’s the third:

The Luminaire opened its doors on 1 March 2005. We were sick of the way bands and gig-goers were treated by promoters and venues. We never understood why things had to be so confrontational, why sound engineers snapped at bands who requested the most basic things. We never understood why people who were supposed to love music treated those who made it and those who came to listen with disrespect. We still don’t understand it.
We hoped that if we met our bands with a smile and a handshake, helped them load in, showed them round, offered them clean towels, tea and coffee, fresh milk, beer and water, and somewhere comfortable to sit backstage, and gave them a calm, friendly sound engineer to work with, they’d really appreciate it.

We thought that, instead of acting aloof and moody when people arrived for a gig, we welcomed them and asked how they were and maybe had a bit of a conversation and a laugh, they’d remember that and tell their friends.

And we figured that if we employed people behind the bar who genuinely loved live music and who knew that, when an acoustic act was playing, they had to do their best to serve drinks quietly, it would be greatly appreciated by our customers.

In December 2006, just nine months after opening, Time Out magazine nominated The Luminaire in its Venue Of The Year category.

If there’s a musician among you who read that and didn’t get a little lump in his/her throat, then you haven’t toured enough.

After the show, there was Vicky from London, old friend and former houseguest of mine in Athens. W.I.Z. and she and I adjourned to the Bizarre Chip Shop™ across the street for something approximating coffee and a slice of something approximating apple pie. Really astonishingly lifelike imitations of the Real Thing, they were.

W.I.Z. had to get to Victoria Station to get the train back to Brighton, and Vicky had to get home to let out Jimi, her faithful and loving dog, so I returned to the club only to discover that I had been missing the party. I hate it when that happens.

After much milling about, most of it genial and drunken, I had to suffer two major disappointments: 1. the cool black Luminaire t-shirt with the skull and the word “LONDON” in huge letters across the bottom was only available in one size: “God, you’ve gotten fat,” and 2. the plan for Daniel and assorted of us to wander over to the Knotting Hill Arts Club with for hours of dancing and hanging out with The Swinging London Architects was just not going to be practical for me, since it would mean getting back to Kim’s at dawn, and we have to go to Brighton today, like right now. Like ten minutes ago. I believe that the size for that is called “God, you’ve gotten old.”

This whole sleep thing. I have become attached to it, to my detriment.

And so, we came back here and had the argument with Keef that all Yanks have to have with all Limeys… “Yes, we all own guns, so what?” That raged back and forth for an hour, and then we all went to bed, satisfied that we were right (even if we were wrong, Keef).


  1. Hey, I’ll be happy to hold on to that shirt for you until such time as you fit into it…

    Brits never get the gun thing. You should invite them here and take them shooting. They might get it then.

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