NO-GO CAMDEN ?

 

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I’m unimpressed by media alarmists (that’s all of them) telling old folk that our town centres are no-go areas and they should stay at home on a Saturday watching “Strictly” with a bottle of imported booze. They should get down the pub and watch English eccentrics with a pint of English beer.

In the last year I’ve seen noted hot-spots such as Manchester, Barnsley, Nuneaton and Cambridge after 11pm and they’ve all been oases of calm, unless you get offended by men in fairy outfits.

On Friday night I took my 15 year old to Camden Roundhouse for an evening of thrash metal, in its purist and melodic variants. And yes, there was a pub on the walk from King’s Cross to tick off.

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The Constitution is, by anyone’s definition, a plain and efficient pub without tourist or gastro pretensions.  Clearly Camden needs proper community pubs like this where blokes in caps can drink lager and play pool while listening to proper London tunes like “Golden Skans” and “Chelsea Dagger, and pretending the world stops at Muswell Hill.

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Few were drinking the real ale (Sambrook, Hophead, XT), and the Junction was uninspiring (NBSS 2.5).  Clearly they need another ten handpumps on to improve quality.

And that’s it pretty much it for Camden.  No Quinn’s, no Black Heart (keg), no Prince Albert, though that one looked absolutely gorgeous as night fell.

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I would have Tapped the Admiral, but Matt chose a pre-gig Vietnamese supper on Camden Road that almost sold Camden to me.  The street art sealed the deal.

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Camden Art

A year ago on a walk up to the excellent Duke’s Head I’d thought the area round the market a bit staid; this time I warmed to it. The shop-fronts really are something else; goodness knows what a 15 year old makes of it all.

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Matt was fed up with my photography by the time we got to the Roundhouse, where a succession of leather jacketed metalheads were finishing their cans. A small sample, but Punk IPA is clearly the new Becks in Camden.

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Note the lack of Camden Hells

Inside the Roundhouse the choice wasn’t as good as those cans; unnamed lager and Adnams East Coast IPA. I gave those a miss.

Reviewing Testament and Amon Amarth is a bit pointless, but they do what they do extremely well.  Play the video at full volume if you want a flavour of the headliner. Thrash metal is certainly an immersive experience, though I’ve heard louder bands (Gary Numan, Cambridge Corn Exchange,  1987).

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Viking invasion skilfully recreated in Camden

 

 

 

We walked back to Kings Cross at 11.  It could have been Tunbridge Wells High Street at midday. A no-go area only for Beer Guiders.

 

 

 

18 thoughts on “NO-GO CAMDEN ?

  1. The viewpoint that city centers are dangerous is common globally even though we live in a period where you are not likely to experience physical danger. I know many people who will not visit an urban area. The level of fear seems excessive relative to the actual violence we hear about or witness. The interesting one for me is when one rents a car in the UK. The rental agencies and guide books really push the theft insurance. I also see an emphasis on parking where there is CCTV. Is this hype or is car theft extremely common? And out of sheer curiosity were you the oldest person at the show?

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    1. Agree Dave. Thefts from cars do happen, typically sat navs. Never happened to me but I drive a cheapo car.

      Concept of no-go more about unsocial behaviour than attacks; fights, vomiting etc etc. Again not something I notice.

      I’d say a third of crowd older than me, most folk 30-40s. I was was younger (and slimmer !) than members of Testament who are my 15 year old sons favourite .

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      1. I’m guessing your in a small minority of people who walk 10 miles or more a day! I was curious about the age distribution. I really could not guess how that would fall out. I would have guessed 20s would have been the most common age. Obviously wrong.

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      2. I was curious too. Metal seems to get a wide distribution of ages, though some of the Americana stuff gets even more diverse crowds. Not unusual here to see students and blokes nearing 70s in the crowd for young groups.

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      3. The metal scene can be almost literally tribal. I was at Wacken about 15 years ago, it was very strange to see entire German families in attendance, all of them seemed to come complete with mullets… Post internet musical diversity is weird, I think I have a more broad range of artists I listen to, but I have no idea what is in any sort of chart these days, or if that even matters.

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    2. If he was oldest I’d be very surprised these days. Disappointed if the Black Heart has discontinued cask, the handpumps were hidden away in a corner though and it’s a couple of years since I was last in.

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    3. Theft *from* cars is common in some areas, theft *of* cars much less so now that even cheapo ones are fitted with sophisticated immobilisers.

      Very often the scariest atmosphere on Saturday nights is not in big cities but in provincial market towns.

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  2. Liked the bit about “pretending the world stops at Muswell Hill.”

    -A very evocative line, even for some fool like me who has no idea what Muswell Hill defines the edge of!

    I saw your reference to Gary Numan; can’t resist mentioning that a friend of mine– a rabid Numan fan– took me to one of Gary’s shows years ago and took me backstage to meet him. Not so many guys from his generation who have kept the fan base alive & enthusiastic so many years later.

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    1. Muswell Hill is where London becomes suburbia, it’s where Madness wrote about years ago.

      What was Gary like ? I’m not a big fan but the 79-80 period confers legend status in my view. I remember Berserker being the highpoint sound wise, ears still not recovered.

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  3. During the brief moment I got to see him I was stuck by how quiet and reserved he was. It was prior to the show, and he was kind of “all business,” going over final details and so forth. This friend of mine managed to work his way pretty far into Gary’s inner circle at that time (15 years or so back); one of the very few times I’ve got to meet a musician backstage.

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  4. I visited the Constitution around Christmas time last year (http://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/22772/) and thought it was a good locals pub, far removed from the pubs along Camden’s main strip in terms of customer base and atmosphere, if not distance.
    I only went there because I wanted to visit the nearby Golden Lion, which at the time had just been rescued from a property developer, and it seemed to make a good double header. I had a pretty good pint there and they were doing their best to push cask, even if most of the regulars were drinking the black stuff. Have to say I was a little surprised to see it in the GBG at the expense of other local options, but good for them that their hard work paid off.

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