Leith bar Sofi’s cancels gig over noise complaints

Sofi's Bar in Henderson Street. Picture: Toby Williams
Sofi's Bar in Henderson Street. Picture: Toby Williams
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A popular Leith bar has cancelled a live music event after noise complaints from neighbours sparked fears it could lose its licence.

Sofi’s on Henderson Street had been set to host an Absolut Piano night on July 18 featuring live acts, but the gig was cancelled.

The axing of the event comes despite calls from senior council figures for greater support to be extended to live music venues after criticism from artists.

A council spokesman insisted that no restriction had been placed on Sofi’s and the council was not involved in the decision to cancel the event, adding that officers were working with the venue to address the complaints.

The bar’s assistant manager, Fern Lunan, 25, told the Evening News that after years of complaints from neighbours, the venue’s licence was “at risk”.

“We’ve had issues for the last four years or so with the neighbours, the people living in flats near the bar. Something had to be done about it,” she said.

“Basically, we can’t have any amplified music any more.

“This is our last chance. We’re allowed to have acoustic music in our front room, but only acoustic. Our sound levels, connected to our computer, we can only set a certain level. If we go above any of these levels, our licence is at risk.

“It’s really frustrating, because we’re not a loud bar. You can’t hear us standing out in the street. It’s just a small bar.”

After the venue posted on its Facebook page that it was cancelling the event featuring performer Olly Ferrell “due to council regulations regarding music noise from bars/pubs in Edinburgh”, its customers reacted with anger.

“This is insane. Did these people not know they were moving in above a pub when they got the place then?,” posted Calum Carlyle.

And John McCausland wrote: “Such a shame that a completely arbitrary bylaw can have a profound effect on small businesses, local talent and community.”

In November, Edinburgh-based Mercury Prize-winning hip hop act Young Fathers said the city wasn’t “made for people to be creative” because of overzealous enforcement of noise restrictions. Band member Graham Hastings from Drylaw said: “They shut down anything if you try to make noise.”

Sofi’s is run by Swedish-themed bar group Boda, which also operates popular pubs like Hemma, Joseph Pearce and Boda Bar.

A council spokeswoman said: “We have been working closely with the owner of Sofi’s and nearby residents to act as mediators and help resolve the issues.

“It is our responsibility to respond to noise complaints from residents, who have the right to peace and quiet in their own homes. However, we are always mindful that live music plays an important role in Edinburgh.

“We have not at any point suggested that music sessions at Sofi’s Bar should stop and will continue to work with them to find a solution.”