Wednesday, July 20, 2005

N8 dogg no more

It’s time for Amanda and I to move on from Hornsey/Alexandra Park/Crouch End/lower Muswell/what do you call it?, to pastures new in southeast London. My sole northside sojourn has been the longest of any of my London tenures by nearly three years, and I’m using our departure from the flat to reflect on the area’s soni-cultural contributions.

It’s limited. Though Dave and Ray of The Kinks came from up the road in N10, Muswell Hill is associated in my mind with artists like Vivian Stanshall who went there to stew/die. The broadway’s Green Man pub has recently gone gastro – what this does to its late-night “pint and a fight” basement I’m not sure. Down the hill on the W7 and into Crouch End and things aren’t much better – a few “late” (12am) venues and standard pubs offering nothing beyond chilled beats and disco house. Hornsey College of Art put on some decent punk and rock shows but has long since been subsumed by Middlesex Univ – the building has now been sold by the TUC for a school. The rather beautiful Hornsey Town Hall, modelled in part on one in Hilversum, had acts like the Kinks but is now being left to stew and needs civic help to survive. These days Crouch End is where members of no-mark blands such as Travis(ty) and Feeder reside, and the stench of 30-something baggy-jeaned multi-culti comfort hums from many of the leafier streets. The Judge Won’t Budge Jules was from Crouch until he upped sticks to Highgate on dj cash.

Upsides: the King’s Head is quite good for comedy; “dance bar” Bar Rocca on Tottenham Lane is on the r&b/hip-hop/bashment map of bling; Andy Kershaw runs the unpretentious Banner’s restaurant; and quite a few actors live here. Indeed, Simon Pegg’s liking for the area led to much of Shaun of the Dead being shot around Weston Park (like a lot of other TV programmes). We got involved once too, persuading local world venue Viva Viva to put our NYC friend Rachel Loshak on. My mate George also said he heard goths singing madrigals from one of the disused railway paths the other day.

There have recently been sightings of Pegg with Foldclay singer Christ Martin in Hornsey high street bars, which will delight the yuppies in the “New River Village” development down the road, but none of the Hornsey originals trying to resist the street’s gentrification. Up and coming UK nu-hopper Sway D’Safo is from the area, but no pirates resonate from here to showcase his work.

Of course Alexandra Palace has long since imported large-scale acts to the area. From the 60s happenings (the 14-Hour Technicolour Dream), to the Roses’ 89 performance and Pixies shows, the place has hosted some memorable events (I caught second-album Inspirals. Bah!). Faithless and Razorlight have played here too. The last decent sonics I heard coming out of the huge halls were songs commemorating the Kurdish new year.

Ultimately this area, at the bottom of a range of hills and almost into the Middlesex suburbs, is a place of cultural retreat. People can buy records from the second-hand stores or equipment from Audio Gold , but seminal gigs or events are unlikely. A diverse area it may be, but no ethnic community dominates enough to leave their cultural imprint here. A good place to live and eat only. Right now, after our decluttering there is currently a lot of vinyl and cds in the charity shops if anyone’s passing through.
<%=MakeComment("112186215492379454","Sonic Truth:N8 dogg no more","")%>


Post a Comment

<< Home

Clicky Web Analytics