Jeez, it’s been a rough November in the city. First the grandfather of newspapers, the Daily Post, announces it’s to be cut down to a weekly, and today (November 28th) we hear that Seel Street venue The Masque has shut down.

A series of tweets posted on their official Twitter page reads: “It comes with great sadness that we have to announce The Masque has ceased trading as from today. All shows are now cancelled or moved. You are entitled to a refund from your ticket providers. Thanks for the support you have shown over the years and for being our friend, we’ll miss you!”

The Masque has been a real key player in the city’s live music resurgance over the past 10 years – things that stick in our mind include the Arctic Monkeys there on the cusp of their fame, The Slits weeks before Ari Up passed away, as well as the hundreds of stellar Chibuku and Circus clubnights it’s played host to. (Actually, we don’t remember those as much, but the Masque’s lager supply is probably to blame for that). A couple of years ago it was snapped up from the Barfly chain and continued as an independent: a smaller budget than a brand like Barfly, but with even more passion for providing fantastic music to Liverpool. In the past it’s also played an important part in both Liverpool Music Week and Sound City schedules.

It’s a venue with such potential, but in a city with some other mid-sized rivals we can understand why it’d struggle. O2 Academy and the Kazimier in particular seem to bag many of the larger touring bands passing through the city, leaving the Masque concentrating more on local artists and clubnight brands.

Not only will it be missed as a gig and club venue – it’s multi-roomed interior perfect for a varied dance music lineup like Chubuku – but it’s one of the only venues in the city where younger bands could actually play. It’s 14+ door policy meant younger musicians could cut their teeth with support slots and showcases every week, a really important element in any city’s musical growth. Its commitment to local musicians was evident right until the end: it’s rare you’d see a ‘name’ headline act play there without a number of local bands given a support slot.

We hope the venue continues in some form. It’s a fantastic and unique space, with a great location, but needs a nudge in the right direction. Maybe we’ll hear the world’s best DJs and bands reverberating around the theatre’s walls again in future, but if we don’t, it’ll be very much missed.

What were your favourite Masque events? Comment below. We’d love to hear about ’em.

26 Responses to “Venue grieving: The Masque shuts down”

  1. Stephanie

    So many memories, all of which are completely unprintable, I’ve seen everyone from amazing techno DJs to the Sugababes doing a private acoustic gig there (before they went all slaggy an tha). I hope someone comes in and buys it, it’s a brilliant venue which has been constantly improved and tweaked over the last ten years – be a shame to see it closed for good although I really don’t think that’ll happen.

  2. Stephanie

    Also, think it’s worth noting that Chibuku, Circus and Evol have all said their planned December/NYE events will still go ahead, either in the Masque or alternative venues.

  3. Stephanie

    @SevenStreets Is it less about the venue and more about the operating company though? Same company owns the recently shut Jacaranda and there are rumours that another one of their bars, Heebie Jeebies, is on the way out too shortly.

  4. Well, if one venue in particular is struggling, be it the Masque or Jacaranda or whatever, it’s understandable that there’s no point keeping it open. As far as the Masque goes, for a city the size of Liverpool, it’s difficult to know how many similar-sized spaces like that it can sustain.

  5. AkilCoqueiroMorgan

    Sad times. Many a good night here, too many to mention them all. Eat Your Greens, mixing the live with the DJ’s have represented and the Masque has been the perfect host! Live on in our memories!

  6. Haven’t been in for years but thinking about it, have had some great nights there that were all equally memorable. Brant Bjork, Red Sparrowes, Bloodgroup and Fozzy among them.

  7. I worked there and think it’s very strange how this has suddenly closed. Worked on Wednesday handing flyers around town and spoke to my manager on Saturday before I was going Eat Your Greens and arranged to go in on Wednesday again. What next for Liverpool’s house scene…

  8. @SevenStreets When you own that many properties, all reliant on people going out each weekend and spending loads of money, it’s almost inevitable that they’re going to run into trouble in this economic climate.

    Fewer people are going to gigs and fewer people are going out midweek and through the weekend. When you compare how busy Heebies is to last year or the year before, for example, it’s really not a surprise that the parent company has run into £1m+ difficulties.

  9. We were going to mention the metal thing, actually. It’s seen loads of brilliant, heavy (and sometimes huge) bands play over the past couple of years and it really became the focal point of the city’s metal & hardcore scene in a way no other venue managed. Really impressive.

  10. I don’t think the closure of the Masque has anything to do with the financial climate and more to do with the lack of effort the owners have put in recently. I have a lot of fond memories of dancing away in the masque to both bands and DJs. The fixtures and fittings have never been what you could describe as ‘high class’ but after a trip to see Misty’s Big Adventure last Thursday I can understand why people would choose not to come back. The toilets are rank and ridiculously designed, the beer choice is awful and overpriced, the second the band finishes playing you are forced out of the door to make way for a ‘club night’ (with no thought that people paying to get into a club night might not want to pay to be the first people standing in a room and perhaps the stragglers from a band’s audience might assist with helping with the ambience of the place.

    The Masque has seen better days, unfortunately the owners didn’t seem to realise the ‘spend money to make money’ theory, allowed it to run itself into the ground, whilst still expecting people to pay realitively high ticket prices, and then £4 for a dodgy lager in a plastic cup.

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