Punk Features Small Venue Spotlight

Small Venue Spotlight: Hope and Anchor, Islington, London UK

A building enshrined in Punk history, the iconic Hope and Anchor still draws the best musicians to its famous stage!

The basement venue of north London’s Hope and Anchor has earned its place in Punk Rock music history, initially as an early adopter of the Pub Rock culture in the early 1970s, going on to become the essential scene for the first Punk and New Wave bands by the end of the decade.

(Dis)gracing its compact stage were bands including; The Damned, Dr Feelgood, Ian Dury’s first band Kilburn and the High Roads, The Stranglers, The Clash, The Cure, The Jam, The Police, Dire Straits, The Specials, X-Ray Spex, Eurythmics, Elvis Costello and Madness, to name just a few.. U2 (famously in front of 8 people) and Joy Division both held their debut London gigs here.

Hope and Anchor outside
The current Hope and Anchor exerior - photo by Ruth Rae

In order to bolster its finances, the Hope and Anchor played host to the Front Row Festival during the late autumn of 1977. Twenty-two bands played, seventeen of which were recorded, and a track or two from each was later issued on a double album. This risky venture paid off – the venue avoided a threatend closure as music fans flocked back to its sweltering underground lair to hear the bands they loved!

Front Row Festival Live Album Launch
Front Row Festival Live Album Launch 1977 - who can you spot?
Front Row Festival double album
Fromt Row Festival Live double album

But that’s not all – the legendary independent label Stiff Records was founded here, and the main bar even inspired a song – Splodgenessabounds‘ cult hit ‘Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please‘. Fortunately it’s not as futile to get served here as the song may suggest.. Upstairs on the first floor, the 50-seater The Hope Theatre puts on independent productions which are dramatic, surprising, and have something to say about the world we live in today.

Recently the Hope and Anchor has undergone a top to bottom refurbishment. There is a brand new PA system, and the enlarged stage is now back in its original, rightful and best position as it was back in the ’70s. Much needed air-con has been installed in the basement so it’s less of a sauna than previously!

Originally opening in 1880, the Grade II Listed Building also now offers modern pub food from its kitchen and a wide selection of drinks, including Guinness 0.0 for those avoiding alcohol. Situated just 5 minutes walk from Highbury & Islington tube station it is easily reached by public transport.

Hope and Anchor main bar
Hope and Anchor main bar - photo by Steve Honest

With a capacity of just 80, this intimate venue is frequently chosen by bands to showcase new album material, or indeed, for their first London performance. Popular shows sell out quickly, so it’s best to get your tickets in advance!

Rage DC at the Hope and Anchor 2023
Rage DC at the Hope and Anchor Oct 2023 - photo by Ruth Rae
Hope and Anchor venue
Hope and Anchor basement venue - photo by Alan Galaxy

Punk lovers have a plethora of shows to choose from, with regular gigs put on by promotors such as Timmy DeRella (Rockaway Beach), UXB Music Promotion / Sounds of the Suburbs Records and Blackstar Promotions (Alan Galaxy):

If you’ve been to any of these before, you’ll know what a great night you’ll have! If you haven’t, then it’s about time you made the pilgrimage! Punk history seeps from the walls of the Hope and Anchor – check out all the amazing photos of famous bands that have played there – and there’s even a Wurlitzer juke box at the far end of the bar

Main Photo Credit: (X-Ray Spex performing at the Front Row Festival) FALCON STUART

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