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TEG MJR acquires Camden Assembly and XOYO

TEG MJR has acquired two of London’s best-loved live music venues, XOYO and the Camden Assembly, both of which will reopen on 21 June, lockdown lifting permitting.

The 400-capacity Camden Assembly (formerly the Barfly) in Camden usually hosts more than 400 events a year and has been played by the likes of Muse, Coldplay, Adele and the 1975. XOYO (800-cap.) in Shoreditch is known for its club nights and DJ shows at the weekend and live music programme on weekdays.

TEG MJR, the UK subsidiary of Sydney-based live entertainment and ticketing firm TEG, says it will host concerts, brand experiences and community events in both venues, “working closely with local and national promoters to curate a full and diverse calendar of artists and genres”.

Dan Ickowitz-Seidler, COO of TEG MJR, says: “We are excited to be a part of London’s diverse night-time culture and to soon be delivering great events and hospitality at two of London’s leading venues.

“We will honour their legacies while bringing new and unbeatable live music experiences”

“The location of both venues is incredible and we are committed to respecting their past and investing in their future, with plans to offer fantastic, contemporary experiences.”

Plans for XOYO include an overhaul of the production infrastructure, with the venue set to relaunch with a three-day residency by dubstep pioneer Skream. Camden Assembly will continue to trade daily with a mix of live shows, club nights and electronic music events upstairs, the company adds.

Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG, comments: “These are two of London’s most-loved venues. We will honour their legacies while bringing new and unbeatable live music and event experiences to patrons. This move gives us a presence in the vibrant London music scene.”

Other TEG MJR venues include Digbeth Arena in Birmingham, Tramshed in Cardiff and the Warehouse in Leeds.

 


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Steve Ball: NIMBYish London needs new venues

Columbo Group founder Steve Ball, whose latest acquisition, The Barfly in Camden, will reopen as The Camden Assembly next Friday, has said more needs to be done to foster London’s nightlife if the city is to compete with other global music capitals.

Speaking to IQ, Ball poured cold water on previous predictions of a small-venue renaissance in the UK capital, stating unsympathetic local authorities and restrictive licensing laws are putting the kibosh on any true recovery for London’s club scene.

“London is a global city,” he comments. “We’re competing with New York, Ibiza… [but] most local authorities don’t want new venues. New late-night licences aren’t being granted.”

The Columbo Group – whose portfolio also includes The Blues Kitchen chain, Xoyo in Shoreditch, The Old Queen’s Head in Islington and a number of other venues, bars, clubs and restaurants – bought the 420-capacity Jazz Café (which will keep its name) in January and the 200-cap. Barfly in May, both from Live Nation/MAMA.

Despite its turning The Barfly/Camden Assembly into a “completely new venue” (“I’ve seen some grotty buildings in my time but [The Barfly] was by far the grottiest!” he jokes), Ball says he’s concerned about the lack of truly new venues opening in London. “Many ‘new’ venues were already there – they’re old venues under the new management. What London needs is new venues.”

“The way licensing is in London means the decision lies with the boroughs, not with City Hall… When you put licensing at a borough level you get a NIMBYish attitude”

Does Ball see new mayor Sadiq Khan, who has pledged his support for beleaguered superclub Fabric and vowed to make the cultural sector one of the “top priorities” for his mayoralty, as being true to his word? Or are they just empty platitudes?

“It’s not an empty platitude, but it is just rhetoric,” he comments. “The way licensing is in London means the decision lies with the boroughs, not with City Hall – and I’d argue that licensing authorities can often be backwards in their views… When you put licensing at a borough level you get a NIMBYish attitude.”

Ball points to the path taken by cities such as Amsterdam and Berlin, where venues and clubs are frequently given 24-hour licences and dedicated night mayors oversee the cities’ nightlife, as a potential way forward for London.

Khan is currently recruiting a ‘night czar’ for London – but if much of the responsibility for nightlife and licensing is still devolved to the boroughs, what will the successful candidate actually be able to achieve? “That’s a very good question!” laughs Ball.

Still, for all its licensing woes London is still a great city in which to see live music, and Ball is optimistic ahead of the opening of what he calls a “new home for music in London”.

“The young music consumer of today has very broad tastes: they’ll listen to rock, indie, grime, dance… The Assembly is going to be broad in the music it showcases”

Why ‘The Camden Assembly’, IQ wonders? “We wanted a new name – The Barfly conjures up an image of noughties indie, and the young music consumer of today has very broad tastes: they’ll listen to rock, indie, grime, dance…

“The Assembly is going to be broad in the music it showcases.”

Ball says he thinks young people are listening to a wider range of music as a “byproduct of people not purchasing music” and instead streaming it. “Before, you were really invested in something,” he explains, “because you’d bought it. But now, if everyone’s listening to the latest Stormzy record, for example, you can just check it out.”

So the Assembly is a music venue for the streaming generation? [laughs] “I’m stealing that!”

The Camden Assembly will reopen on 16 September with a seven-hour ‘pub rave’ with dance music duo The 2 Bears, followed by Mikeq, Teki Latex, L-Vis 1990 and Rushmore on Saturday 17 September and Soweto Kinch, Andrew Ashong, Binker & Moses and Laura Misch on Sunday 18th.

The venue will also host the International Festival Forum‘s Opening Party on Tuesday 27th September, which features the ITB showcase of emerging artists from the agency’s roster.

Other upcoming highlights include The Horrors’ Farris Badwan on 23 September, Temples on 25 September and a DJ set by The Streets’ Mike Skinner on 25 November.

 


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