The Bath music venue Moles, which hosted early gigs from the likes of Radiohead, The Killers and Ed Sheeran, has closed its doors after 45 years – citing the cost of living crisis as a deciding factor.
The intimate venue first opened in 1978 and has played host to acts that went on to become some of the world’s biggest musicians – with Fatboy Slim, The Smiths and Blur all passing through its doors.
In a statement shared on social media today (December 5), Moles announced it would be shutting with immediate effect – explaining how “huge rent rates, along with massively increased costs on everything from utilities to stock” were all reasons behind the closure. All future events at Moles have now been cancelled.
“We’ve weathered many things over the years, including a fire and a pandemic in the last 10 years alone, but this cost of living crisis has crippled the grassroots music sector. Although that is not the only problem, it has accentuated it,” the statement said. “Huge rent rates, along with massively increased costs on everything from utilities to stock, are all factors. This has been compounded by our customers also feeling the impact of the crisis.
“We are not the only grassroots music venue to close in the past year. Over 120 other venues have closed as well, which is over 15% of the sector. Places that mean as much to others as Moles means to us.”
They added: “Meanwhile, the live sector at arena level and above is having a bumper year with record profits. While all these venues have closed, 7 new arenas are being built that will generate hundreds of millions a year. There needs to be a major shake-up of the live sector, with the big players supporting the grassroots where it all begins to secure that pipeline of talent. This is something that Music Venue Trust has been saying for years; maybe now the industry will listen.
“We were one of the last venues remaining from the first Oasis tour. Of the estimated 366 grassroots venues Ed Sheeran played before making it big, 150 have closed. This decimation of the sector has to stop now. Unless bands have these stages to play, where will they hone their talents and become these huge artists that fill these arenas and stadiums around the world?
“But venues like Moles are also more than just talent incubators; they are also so important to communities. People meet their future partners in them, they make friends for life, they discover their new favorite band and sing their hearts out while forgetting their troubles for a few hours. And sometimes they can just be somewhere they feel safe and not alone. The importance of these venues can never be overstated. We hope that whoever takes the building over will keep it as a live music venue as without it, Bath will have lost so much.”
The statement ended by asking all past fans and patrons to “join us in raising a glass to the last 45 years of glorious music, good times, friends, and memories.”
It added: “And thank you to everyone who has ever worked here; we achieved a lot, and it couldn’t have been done without them. And all the bands and DJs that have played, and all of you who came down, bought a ticket, and danced and sang, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Today, we are heartbroken, but the good memories will last forever, and for that, we will always be grateful.”
Responding to the closure, the Music Venue Trust said: ““GMVs, the lifeblood of creativity, are in crisis! 15% of venues closed, 84 in CRISIS. The Music Venue Trust SCREAMS for industry support! The Pipeline Investment Fund needs EVERY ticket at arenas & stadiums to contribute £1, ensuring venues like Moles can nurture future artists.”
MVT boss Mark Davyd: “If the live music industry won’t act in its our best interests to prevent the closure of spaces like @MolesBath then they must be compelled to do so. I am calling for immediate action from across the political spectrum to introduce a compulsory levy on arena and stadium tickets.”
The closure comes after the MVT previously warned that the UK was set to lose 10 per cent of its independent venues by the end of 2023.
Responding to the closure, Teesside band Benefits wrote: “Venues like Moles are going to continue to close in towns and cities all over the UK until there’s nothing left. Grassroots venues are vanishing at an alarming rate and we can’t just shrug and let it happen.
“This isn’t just about a single venue going under, it’s about a whole musical culture disappearing in front of our eyes. Things like Independent Venue Week simply aren’t enough, grassroots venues need support all year round because when they go, everything goes…”
They added: “Your fresh and humble local musician aspires to play somewhere, and that’s usually to perform at the cool venue near where you live. No venue, no where to play, no aspiration, no acts to watch or be inspired by, no impetus to write…ah but we’ve got arena shows, you know, proper shows, not silly little gigs that only a few hundred people attend. How do you think these bands that want to play enormodomes work their way up? Plus, what about bands who aren’t interested in arena shows and prefer intimacy? …stop press, not everyone wants to play at arena level. I’ve said this before but for many many many many bands, venues like Moles, or the Westgarth in Middlesbrough are our Wembleys. They’re not stepping stones to us, they’re summits and we love them.”