CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Mumford & Sons musician: ’We need more Zone One music venues’

Ben Lovett will open 'Lafayette' in King's Cross next year

10 October, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

How ‘Lafayette’ will look

AN award-winning folk rock musician is set to open a new venue in the heart of King’s Cross – and has told the New Journal that he wants to help reverse the trend which has seen a series of music pubs and clubs close down in London.

Ben Lovett, who played the keyboard in global-selling band Mumford & Sons, said: “I noticed, when I started to look into venues in London, that the majority of closures were happening in ‘zone one’ where venue operators were being priced out, or forced out, of their leases for redevelopment.”

He opened Omeara, a club in London Bridge, three years ago – and its success has prompted him to invest funds into the new performance space, in Goods Way. His venue is opening up close to former Bagley’s and The Cross nightclubs, which were considered legendary nightspots on the dance scene.

“New venues have been opening, even since we opened Omeara,” said Mr Lovett. “But many of them are further and further away from the centre of the city. I think we need music and culture in the heart of our capital and so when I was approached about building a venue in one of the most exciting redevelopments happening in the heart of any major city in decades, it really resonated with me.”

He had been criticised earlier this year when it was licensing papers revealed he was considering calling the venue ­simply “Somers Town”.

People from the area reacted by writing to the New Journal outlining gentrification fears and claiming the singer was taking the name of their neighbourhood and transplanting it into the billion-pound, tech hub railway lands development next door.


SEE ALSO MUMFORD & SONS STAR IN PEACE TALK OVER SOMERS TOWN ‘NAME GRAB’


Instead, Mr Lovett’s new venue will now actually be named Lafay­ette, after the French revolutionary who also fought in the American War of Independence.

The venue – capacity and licensing hours have yet to be decided – will host a range of music with an emphasis on providing a platform for new talent.

Mr Lovett said: “I think it’s more critical than ever to help provide platforms, curation and direction for our enormous undiscovered artist community, and developing venues is an extension of that.”

Ben Lovett

He added:  “Often when people think of the grass-roots music scene, they think of sticky floors of dive clubs with unclean toilets and warm beer, but it’s really not that at all. I want to help contribute to a world where choosing, as a music fan, to give your time and hard-earned money to a grass-roots music venue is rewarded with a truly positive experience.”

Lafayette would be booking a diverse range of live shows across all genres appealing to people of all tastes and interests, said the musician whose band won the Best Group Brit award in 2013.

He added: “It will be as inclusive as possible, and are very excited to get the doors open next year.”

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