Sadness over loss of ‘vital’ Sheffield music venues where Arctic Monkeys started out

A Sheffield MP has spoken out about the loss of vital music venues within the city which helped launch the likes of the Arctic Monkeys.

Louise Haigh bemoaned the loss of smaller venues like the Boardwalk, which is now boarded up, and the Grapes pub, where Alex Turner and co famously played their first gig but which no longer hosts live music.

Speaking in a parliamentary debate this week about the contribution music makes to the economy and society in general, the Sheffield Heeley MP said: “Growing up in Sheffield in the 1990s, I took access to live music venues for granted, and we had access to not just some of the best venues in the country, but some of the best music in the country.

“When I was a teenager the Arctic Monkeys were starting to gig at the Grapes, the Boardwalk, and the Harley, as were bands such as Reverend and the Makers, Milburn and Longpigs.

Arctic Monkeys lead singer Alex Turner on stage at Glastonbury (pic: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

“Sadly, not one of those venues still hosts live music today, but all those bands would say that without them it would not have been possible for Sheffield to produce the groundbreaking music that it is now internationally renowned for.”

Ms Haigh described small venues as the ‘incubator of talent’.

She also said funding for the arts was too often failing to reach those who really need it, quoting John McClure, of Reverend and the Makers as telling her ‘arts have become the preserve of the rich kids, for boys and girls like me are now excluded in the main, through a lack of access to the networks of power, combined with a lack of resources’.

She added that she was ‘incredibly proud’ to sit on Sheffield City Region’s music board, which she said was the first to be set up outside London and was an ‘essential part of the revival’ due to its work to support up and coming artists.