MUSIC FANS are today mourning the loss of one of the biggest independent venues in Leeds.
The Cockpit, underneath the Dark Arches, announced on Wednesday, September 10, it will close its doors for good after 20 years in business.
Speaking to the YEP, owner Colin Oliver cited the poor condition of the building as the main reason for the closure, as well as dwindling numbers at student club nights.
The popular venue has played host to some of the biggest names in the industry during its two-decade run, including The White Stripes, Amy Winehouse, Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stoneage, Flaming Lips, The Libertines, Feeder, Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend, The Killers, Fall Out Boy, Bloc Party, Coldplay and The Kaiser Chiefs.
It was well-known for attracting internationally famous bands as well as giving local talent the chance to shine.
Owner Mr Oliver, who originally set up The Cockpit 20 years ago, said: “We should have done it two years ago but the thing is, you get caught up in it and there is a lot of history and a lot of people have been through those doors.
“No-one wants to see an iconic venue like that disappear but we have got to keep up and if you don’t you will be left behind.
“Basically we would have had to close down for a year for it to be damp-proofed and the sewage and drainage systems to be sorted [...] and that doesn’t really work for us.”
Mr Oliver is director of promotions company Futuresound Events, and says its sister company Slam Dunk will launch a new venue called Key Club on September 20.
The new site is aimed at rock, pop punk and metal fans and will take over the former Beat Bar on Merrion Street.
It will also host The Cockpit’s Slam Dunk and the Garage clubnights every week.
He also revealed that plans are in the pipeline to open another new venue in the city centre in 2015, to follow in the footsteps of The Cockpit.
Mr Oliver added: “Live music is as vibrant as it has ever been.
“It’s the end of an era for The Cockpit, but the start of a new one for Futuresound. This will be the future of live music venues.”
A statement on The Cockpit website said: “After 20 great years as an integral pillar of the Leeds music scene we have decided that it is no longer viable to deliver you the level of service you deserve with the building in it’s current condition.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank every one of you who came to watch your favourite bands, danced, stage dived, crowd surfed, found your life partner and gave the Cockpit its reputation as one of the best live music venues in the UK.”
All scheduled events at The Cockpit, which was formerly known as The Cock of the North pub, will be moved to alternative venues.
For more information, visit www.thecockpit.co.uk.