“It’s like a family” – Bedford bands speak of their love of Esquires during #IVW19

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Esquires by Neil McCarty
Image: Neil McCarty

Bedford’s bands and musicians have been speaking about their love of Esquires and its importance in their own success, saying that having a venue like Esquires in our town is something many people don’t realise is a rarity.

Talking to Bedford Independent during Independent Venue Week (#IVW19), which ran from 28 January to 3 February, Elijah Miller and The Scruff spoke of how Esquires not only gives them a platform but also creates a nurturing, family atmosphere amongst the bands.

Adam from The Scuff said: “We’re so lucky to have a venue like this. You’ve got Don Broco, Tom [Grennan], The Pecadiloes, The Wholls, CC Smugglers… so many good things seem to come out of it from such a small group of people, it’s just mad.”

“It’s like my second home” adds Elijah Miller: “They’ve [Esquires] been so pivotal to my success. Helping me out so much, with, like, cost wise… Gareth who owns Esquires he’s given me so many opportunities… they definitely care a lot about local artists.”

Venues like Esquires, however, are struggling.

With less people coming out to see bands and rising overheads, it’s increasingly difficult to keep a venue like Esquire open, yet owner Gareth Barber and promoters Kev, Milky, Rick and the team continue to do what they can to support local artists.

Gareth, who also runs Pad Presents with Kevin Bailey, said: “If you’re an Esquires regular, an old face who doesn’t visit as much, or even someone who’s never been, come and see what we’ve got…”

And what they’ve got is not to be missed. Other than the home-grown talent already mentioned, Esquires is also a regular stop for touring bands from all over the world.

Over the years, bands who have performed at Esquires include: Alabama 3, My Baby, Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand, Muse, The Libertines, Editors, The View, The Feeling, Bloc Party, Enter Shikari, Biffy Clyro, Feeder, Sisteray, Graham Coxon…

*takes a deep breath*

Tim Burgess, Super Furry Animals, Bluetones, Elastica, Catatonia, Ocean Colour Scene, Echobelly, Shed Seven, Supergrass, Sleeper and more…

It’s clear Esquires punches above its weight when it comes to bringing great live music to people in and around Bedford.

But do Bedfordians feel the same? Elijah Miller isn’t so sure: “When you live here, it’s easy to look at Bedford and be like, oh it’s this that and the other, but when you look at its success and what people had done and where they’ve gone, they’re definitely championing people in the industry.”

So, let’s keep music live in Bedford. Have a look at what’s coming up in their listings and go and see something. There will be something for all tastes and budgets (most gigs are around £10 and jam nights on Wednesdays plus the Sunday Afternoon Sessions are free) and you might just witness the next best thing.

Just think, when you hear about that band you saw going up to collect their Brit, Grammy or Ivor Novello, you can say to your mates: “I saw them in Bedford before they were famous.”

Independent Venue Week is a celebration of small music venues around the country and a nod to the people that own, run and work in them, week in, week out.

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England in the UK and also the wider music industry and brands globally, Independent Venue Week brings together these venues along with breaking and established artists, promoters, labels, media, bloggers and tastemakers to create a nationwide series of gigs.