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Brews at the Brudenell, Lights at The Lantern....

Real ale and music in perfect harmony....

One of my favourite venues for live music is the Brudenell Social Club, situated on Queens Road in the maze of red brick streets off Cardigan Road in the Burley area of Leeds. First opened in 1913, it is named after James Thomas Brudenell, aka the Earl of Cardigan, who was the proud owner of Kirkstall Abbey after it ceased being a monastery way back in the 16th century.

I only returned to going there a couple of years ago, when I went to see Simone Felice with some friends after a decades-long hiatus. Since then I have gone back several times to see artists such as Hurray for the Riff Raff and Hiss Golden Messenger. It tends to get an eclectic mix of artists on who are up and coming, or cult favourites, often playing to sell-out crowds, and as such attracts a generally knowledgeable and enthusiastic audience. Being situated where it is the Brudenell also attracts large numbers of both current and former students. Artists due on in the coming weeks include Rocket from the Crypt, Tom Russell, and Goat Girl, whilst on December 16th my good friend Chantel McGregor brings her brand of blues rock to the club.

As you go in, turn right into a comfortable lounge, and guess what, there are hand pumps on the bar! There is always at least one featuring a Kirkstall beer - Three Swords was on the other night - and a couple of guests. The beer quality is very good and this has been recognised with the Brudenell making it into the 2018 CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Along with the Cluny in Newcastle and the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, it is in a select group of being one of the few top music venues in the country where you can actually get a decent pint!

It had been a few months since I had been when I went to see the excellent Jane Weaver the other night. In the meantime the place had had a refurb, with a new Community Room built at one side, which has a stage and had a free gig on when I visited. Then there is the Main Room, where most nights some live music is on, and the Games Room, where I saw the Deslondes last year, but which is now home to half a dozen pool tables, a full-size snooker table, and a football table, so it is not likely that anyone will be appearing in there again soon! Each of the rooms has its own bar now, but apart from the lounge, only the main room has real ale on, served in the inevitable plastic glasses when there's music on. 

Despite being a Social Club and having the usual trappings such as multiple TV's with Sky Sports, pool tables, etc, the Brudenell does not feel 'clubby' in the slightest. There is a relaxed feel, the staff are friendly and efficient, and if you are in the area it is worth popping into, even if you are not going for any music, although, of course, that would make your visit more complete.

Meanwhile over in Halifax, the eagerly-awaited opening of The Lantern is getting closer. This is the new 150-capacity music venue next door to the Alexandra based in the remaining(and larger part) of the former Three Lanterns Restaurant. Work has being going on for several months and on more than one occasion Martin has appeared in the Alexandra covered in brick-dust! Ben, meanwhile, has been busy booking artists, with Avalanche Party due to appear alongside DJ John Kennedy when it opens next Friday, November 10th. Other artists already booked include the Haggis Horns, Space, and to show there is an aim to appeal to a wide audience, the legendary Martha Reeves and the Vandellas are playing to an already sold-out audience in a few weeks time. There will be real ale and craft on offer as well, and if all goes to plan it should add yet another dimension to the growing appeal of Halifax town centre as a real destination after years in the doldrums. And with so much work having gone into the Lantern, there are plenty of grounds for optimism that it will become another top-class music venue which also serves a decent pint! Mentioning the Alexandra, with Ben and Martin spending so much time on the new venture, belated congratulations are due to Sophie who has deservedly been promoted to bar manager.

I was in Manchester during last week, no decent beer was to be had at the Albert Hall, but fortunately I had enjoyed some excellent beer at the Smithfield earlier in the evening. I was there to see Jason Isbell, a musician who is currently at the top of his game. A former member of Southern country rock band, Drive By Truckers, he has recorded three sublime solo albums in the last few years that simply ooze Americana. It was a fantastic gig, crammed with excellent songs, with his band the 400 Unit as tight as a drum. After a fantastic 80 minutes or so, the band came back out for an encore, and when I heard the opening notes, I thought "that sounds like Refugee by Tom Petty." It was 'Refugee' by Tom Petty, note perfect, and my mate Tom who was with me at the gig mentioned that Jason Isbell traditionally does a Tom Petty song as part of his encore. In view of recent events it was all the more poignant.

I paid a visit to that famous musical city, Liverpool, last Saturday en route to seeing Town's 4-2 defeat at Tranmere Rovers. This is a city that I have neglected to visit over the years, so I was reliant on my brother for advice of where we should go. We visited a few decent pubs before getting a taxi over to Birkenhead for the game, of which the Dispensary just five minutes from Lime Street Station was the stand out. The pint of Jarl from Fyne Ales was one of the best I have had all year. I definitely need to head over to Liverpool at some point and give it a proper look this space.

Meanwhile, back to the Brudenell. I am next going on the 30th November to see Ian Felice, brother of Simone, and looking forward to it already....

The Brudenell: Real Ale and music in perfect harmony


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