By Neil Davies
THINK of great live music and you’re unlikely to think of Thurrock. It has been several years since the borough had a recognised central venue for its music scene in the Fat Surfer, and it seems like eons ago when, at the height of 1990s Britpop, the finest bands in the borough, acts such as Lunar Sea, Honeylust and More Tea Vicar, created their very own spotlight at Stanford’s Luna Club. In recent years however, the Thurrock scene has struggled in a climate of recession where the pub industry has struggled to attract in the punters.
This isn’t to say that the borough is no longer producing original bands worth leaving the comfort of your sofa for though. There are some fantastic bands out there that could very well go head to head with bands from any area of the country. The problem is that there hasn’t been a wealth of venues for these acts to showcase themselves in, so they have had to take their talents out of the borough. Some pubs have tried and failed to set themselves up as the new hub of local music, but haven’t managed to get the mix right. While some pubs have bunged the live acts into the tiniest corner of the venue by the gents to get them out of the way, others have failed to spread the word sufficiently to gather momentum. The scene has needed a focal point – an epicentre from which Thurrock’s talent can burst out from.
There is a light however, shining bright in Grays. The Traitor’s Gate on the Broadway has recently been hosting band nights with some success and last night, that light shone a little brighter.
Four bands, a tiny fragment of the Thurrock scene, The Wavetones, Bow Flats, Finding Miranda and Witching Season proved that Thurrock is not only still producing talented musicians and songwriters but also bands capable of putting on a quality show. These are bands who also give the crowd something to see and who are not content being merely the noise in the background. The standard of local acts is very high – certainly worth tearing yourself away from the X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent.
While the stage is far from ample, it is given pride of place in the centre of the pub and the bands are allowed to play at an appropriately rock’n’roll volume. All too often pubs invite rock bands to play and then ask them to tone it down. Imagine a pub offering the finest beer and then telling you it was alcohol free! The Traitor’s Gate host band nights and let the bands do their thing. The result is that the audience is given the full experience and in return they show their genuine appreciation.
The lure of great live music isn’t the only reason the Traitor’s Gate can rightly boast, however. Dating back to the 19th century, the pub has undergone a change and is now the multi-award winning local. Far from being a place to down a few pints of the usual big name lagers, real ale is a big deal and many local micro-breweries are showcased at the ever changing pumps. For member of CAMRA, there are even discounts.
This is a pub which is not only striving but succeeding in being the centre of the local scene. It is leading the charge in its support of Thurrock bands as well as breweries in the surrounding areas. What more can you want from a night out? Good beer, great music with more passion than you’d see on a TV talent contest and a warm and welcoming atmosphere. You can find it at the Traitor’s Gate every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Rock, roll and real ale is the future.