The End of the Road Christmas gig in Hackney last night allowed me to finish the Beer Guide pubs in East London. The Adam & Eve on Homerton High Street is a cracker, beautiful and bustling with a very mixed early evening crowd. Plenty of seating of all varieties too, meaning it felt as much boozer as family-friendly gastro.
I can even forgive the handle jar, as the Tintagel Gwan Taf was gorgeous (NBSS 3.5), proper rich winter beer. Two Cornish beers on the bar and a good variety of styles and strengths.
On the walk back to Hackney Central I passed the Plough, which has the sort of entrance lobby you rarely see outside of the Black Country.
I always see something new in Hackney; the other highlight of this walk was the walled garden walk alongside St. Johns, one of the few survivors of bombs and redevelopment. Pedestrianised Mare Street is particularly grim though.
In complete contrast to Mare Street, Oslo is a gem, a stylish club venue built out of old Hackney Central station. At most gigs there’s plenty of old folk (you define old), but I felt very out of place in the opulent downstairs bar area, even with its Redemption and Five Points pumps (NBSS 2.5 for the Porter, though it ought to be docked a mark for the chunky eight-sided tumblers).
The music area is small (c.350), dark, and has the most officious stewarding seen since my first Cliff Richard gig in the ’70s. It also sells me a small, warm can of Beavertown for £5. Hey East London ! £2.90 a pint of Kirkstall at the Brudenell.
Fortunately, this was the best value-for-money gig of the year, and the greatest sound quality I’ve heard outside of my own Hi-Fi.
Part Mark E Smith, part Max Wall, Mark Wynn rants about Michael Buble’s slippers and York Library over a soundtrack of AC/DC and Rod Stewart – even funnier than it sounds.
Martha, “a pop band from Durham”, are the stars of the night. Their euphoric set includes what sounds like a post-punk cover of “Spirit of Radio“, which was as good as it sounds. Only vinyl for sale at the merch table. Very East London.
Notional headliners Joanna Gruesome plough a similar but faster vein, their run through classic LP “Peanut Butter” and a few extras over within 40 minutes, allowing folk to head for the Pembury Tavern or stay for the disco, depending on their age.
A great advert for live music and the eclecticism of End of the Road, if not for East London pricing.