The music scene in Southend-on-Sea has a very rich heritage. From legendary venues like The Kursaal and The Esplanade to todays music venues like Chinnery’s and Village Green Festival. Also bands like Busted, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, Scroobius Pip, Nothing But Thieves and Procol Harum hale from this humble town. This is going to be a little nostalgic look at the Top 5 Southend on Sea Music Venues.

Being born a Southendian myself, and cutting my teeth in the local music scene, I have a lot I owe in my own career to this cockle-picking, seaside town.

Here’s my nostalgic look back at the Top 5 Southend on Sea Music Venues.

#1: The Esplanade

Number 1 on my list has to be the Esplanade. The ‘Esp’, as it was known played host to my first crowd surfing experience, at a Feeder show sometime in the mid 90’s. The venue itself was more akin to a London music venue than anything else in the town, except with far better views. Being turfed out at the end of the night meant you were looking over the Thames Estuary and not a busy London Street.

Internally it was a long sweatbox with blacked out windows. The winds that would drive down the Estuary, battering the seaside town, would be drowned out by the noise level inside. The bands that frequented the place were some of the coolest bands of the 90’s. Pearl Jam’s played their first ever UK show, and for a teenager into his alternative rock this was awesome, for their debut album, Ten. Cerys Matthews’ Catatonia also graced the stage along with the likes of The Stereophonics, The Divine Comedy, Thunder (the first show in the venue in 1991), Feeder, Extreme, Sneaker Pimps, Freak of Nature, Primal Scream, Dub War and Gun.

My fellow gig goers and I would share cassettes of various other underground bands that were coming through the venue. It was a bit of a competition to see who could find the most obscure bands. And actually that share of those mix tapes was one of the influences behind our MixTape T-Shirt.

#2: The Kursaal

via The Echo

The Kursaal is probably one of the most important venues in the whole of the Southend on Sea music scene. I have to be fair at this point, I never went. As a music venue, the Ballroom shutdown in 1977, so a little bit before the birth of good old Dave here.

It originally opened in 1894, not long after Thomas Edison invented his Phonograph, as Marine Park. In 1901, a grand entrance pavilion was built giving us the Grade II listed building we have today.

This place hosted some of the biggest bands around at the time, bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Queen and AC/DC, who incidentally used a picture of them performing at the Kursaal on the cover of the International release of Let There Be Rock .

#3: Chinnery’s

Seeing as Chinnery’s was the first venue to actually give me a job, this one has got to be up there on my nostalgic sale.

The closure in 1998 of The Esplanade left a hole in the Southend music Scene. Along came Chinnery’s. Lead by the same Glyn Morgan who had been so instrumental in The Esplanade, he setup a new venue inside Chinnery’s. I was fortunate enough to be part of this process. This is the place I cut my teeth as a Sound Engineer.

The venue itself has played host to some awesome bands over it’s time: Snow Patrol, Ellie Goulding, La Roux, The Horrors, Example, Baby Shambles, The Feeling, Squeeze, Hayseed Dixie, The Levellers…

UPDATE: Thank you to Liz Hoale for this, and to be honest I’ve very embarrassed that I didn’t remember… The might Resin!

[read more about the Chinnery’s]

#4: The Minerva

For me, The Minerva was an incubator. The venue, no more than 200 capacity, now I might be remembering this wrong, was separated into two part; the bar and the function room. The function room, which by the time my band InDeep were playing there was being guided by Sound Engineer Mike Smith.

This venue was a staple on the local music scene. This was the place where all the local bands use to play. For those who might remember, bands like Mind Slide, Scintillate, Red Nettle, Karma, Senseless, Nova Scotia, Chronobliss, Torment… And There’s probably loads more. Let me know below if you remember any more…

[read more about the Minerva]

#5: The Alex

The Top Alex, on Alexandra Street, has a vibrate history of music in the town. My band, InDeep, played there in the 90’s when it had been taken over by the Firkin pub chain and was called The Fish and Firkin. There were two Alexandra pubs on Alexandra street, the Bottom and the Top Alex, as they were affectionately known. The bottom Alex, which was near the main high-street made way for more commercial properties but the Top Alex is still there today.

The pub has been a venue for live music since the end of the Second World War. It was part of the Mod movement during the 60’s and 70’s.

Check Out Some of Our Other Blogs About Southend-on-Sea

Birth Place of Live Sound Engineer, Writer, Author and Creator of Audio Architect Apparel Dave Swallow

Born with all the correct fingers, toes, arms and legs into the cockle-picking town of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK, Dave Swallow spent his formative years surrounded by the many delights a British Seaside town has to offer. Or at least this seaside town; The world’s longest pleasure pier, for example, mud and the inability to sound a consonant, which is very much an Essex thing but it’s South Essex that really take it to another level. Leaving school, minus a tooth (cousinly inflicted), was a daunting prospect. Dave hated salt water, so cockle-picking was out, and he was about as gangster as Harry Potter… [click_here_to_read_more]

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