Barry Gordon: Welcome to La Belle Angele deux

Cowgate fire. Pic: Tony Marsh
Cowgate fire. Pic: Tony Marsh
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TWELVE long years after the great Cowgate fire of 2002, La Belle Angele reopens its doors tonight. Will you be heading down?

Naturally, it’s great to see a much-loved venue reinstated, but it also comes at a time when we’ve been crying out for a decent ‘new’ live music venue, since losing The Picture House.

Yes, we know it’s only half the size of the Picture House (500 capacity), and yes, some promoters are already complaining about the hire fees, but shouldn’t we be thankful for small mercies?

Well, a few people I’ve been speaking to – also grateful to witness the Phoenix’s rise from the flames – are wondering if La Belle Angele Part Deux will be adaptable, making it more accessible for other types of entertainment?

Will it provide better conditions for musicians, so often used to changing in a cupboard next to the office?

And, for all the local musos currently campaigning against the council’s attempts to kill live music in the city stone dead, will they be forced to close down within a week of reopening should some misery guts, who just moved into the Cowgate, complain?

I just hope that the owners don’t try to compete with the Liquid Room. Cooperation, not competition is what’s required to ensure the city gets more than its fair share of the bands we want to see and hear.

Hopefully La Belle Angele will give Capital music fans/ clubbers something to get excited about again. Perhaps Oasis – who played at the venue in its early days – could reform for the occasion, too? OK, maybe not.

Speaking of the early days, my first experience of La Belle Angele was watching Britpop band Dubstar perform there in November 1995. The venue was cold and unwelcoming, the booze was expensive, and the band had to get changed in a cupboard. Everyone, including the band, had a great time, though.

It’s great to see it back.