Leeds music scene: Dave Best from The Pigeon Detectives charts 11 years of music evolution in the city

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This month marks the eleventh anniversary of The Pigeon’s first ever gig, at The Packhorse pub, in Headingly. Eleven years!

That is insane…

A lot has changed in Leeds since 2004. Economically the city has gone from strength to strength, with new high-rise apartment buildings, bars, restaurants and businesses seemingly popping up every day.

I have been to every city in this country umpteen times and I can honestly say that Leeds is right up there with the most vibrant and exciting places in the UK.

A question that does prey on my mind, however, is this: has the music scene kept pace with this growth, or were kids in bands better off back in my day?

I often gush about how lucky musicians are to live in Leeds, but the truth is some of the greatest rock and roll institutions in Leeds have found themselves as collateral damage as the city has grown in a bustling metropolis. Great venues like The Duchess, The Cockpit and Joseph’s Well, in which bands such as Kaiser Chiefs, The Cribs and Alt-J made names for themselves have been forced to close their doors, leaving a sweaty rock and roll void in our cities heart.

It’s a crying shame that new bands wont get to experience the authentic and visceral rock and roll experience that these venues had to offer.

Sure, new venues will undoubtedly arise to take the mantle, but there was a history and a folklore that came with these places that shiny new places can’t possibly replicate, no matter how much they try.

There are a few awesome local venues still carving out their own place in the cities history.

The Brudenell Social Club is slowly gaining legendary status throughout the music world and the emergence of The Belgrave Music Hall has made huge moves in appeasing the new breed of music loving hipsters that are engulfing the city centre. These are great places but I can’t help but think that they lack the atmosphere of the great venues of my youth - they’re just a bit, well, nice…

I feel like a grumpy old New York punk-rocker, who used to go watch amazing bands like The Ramones and Blondie at dirty, horrible gigs at glorious holes, such as CBGB’s, before Mayor Giuliani got in power and went about cleaning up the city and making one in every three buildings a Starbucks.

Maybe I’m looking back at my youth with rose tinted glasses, but I can’t help but feel that as Leeds has evolved, it has left a tiny bit of good old rock and roll spirit in its wake.

All I’m asking is for one venue with sticky floors and a toilet that makes you gag, is that too much to ask…

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