With the news that Club 85, the iconic Hitchin grassroots venue, will close its door for the last time within the next twelve months and become a residential development of 16 apartments, members of Planet Fatale and Neverworld have shared their memories and experiences playing and visiting the venue with MetalTalk.
“The first time I performed at Club 85 was back in 2018,” Helen Johnson, vocalist with Planet Fatale, told MetalTalk. “I remember walking in and thinking. ‘Wow, what a venue’. With its expansive stage and impressive sound and lighting system, I couldn’t wait for our set. The professional production team, promoters, and staff were so welcoming that the place instantly felt like home.
“Since that first time, which was for a M2TM competition heat with Alter The Sky, I have performed there on a number of occasions with both bands, including Planet Fatale’s album launch show in 2021. Although not our local venue (we are Cambridge-based), the Club 85 audience had been incredibly supportive of the band’s journey towards the production of the album, and we knew we wanted to include it on the tour.
“Performing at Club 85 has been a highlight for both bands. The production team makes every band’s performance sound and look amazing for the audience, ensuring a thoroughly enjoyable playing experience.”
“But it’s also the inspiring community of music lovers and the sense of inclusivity that has shone through for me with Club 85. It is a perfect hub to nurture a thriving Metal and rock scene.
“For us, the venue has been an inspiration, giving us one of our first tastes of a larger stage in the early stages of the band’s careers and providing invaluable experience that has helped us develop as performers.
“Club 85 and the expertly organised M2TM competition held there has been a springboard for countless rock and Metal bands, and it has been a pleasure to watch, and support bands who have come up through that scene continue to grow.
“So, thank you, Club 85, Bob and everyone involved in this wonderful venue and its community, for your energy, love and support.”
“Club 85 has, for the very longest time, been a second home to me,” Gary Payne of Neverworld told us. “I know it has been to countless others over the years. To say that the news of its closing was an unexpected blow feels like an inadequate description of how I feel. I, like many, assumed there would always be a Club85.
“It has been, throughout its time, the birthplace of so many a musical journey. My own began watching local acts perform before playing my first show sometime in ’04. Since then, it has been responsible for some of the very greatest highlights of my life and the very highest moments I can recall.
“I have personally witnessed the rise of so many great acts that would, I’m sure, never have risen to become what they have without either the support of the club or the spur of inspiration from seeing others given the platform to unleash themselves live on their stage.
“I cannot express how proud I am to have been a part of it all. I feel privileged to have trodden the boards of their stage so often and hope to do so again before it shuts its doors, but it is going to be an extremely emotional close.
“I’d like to express my highest love and appreciation to Bob and every member of the venue’s crew over the years. I am forever grateful and forever indebted. To everyone I have ever performed with, cheered on, shared a drink with or lifted above my head in an inflatable.
“To everyone who I have been sharing Club 85 with. Much love indeed. Club 85 forever.”