‘Everyone’s feeling lost’: despair as Britain’s gig venues fight to survive

Arctic Monkeys’ old haunt in Sheffield becomes latest casualty of spiralling costs that threaten to reshape UK’s music landscape

The Harley in Sheffield has earned its place in history as one of the pubs where a pre-fame Arctic Monkeys cut their teeth. But the 200-capacity venue and pub, which also hosted early gigs by the xx and Royal Blood, closed without warning earlier this month. In a statement that has since been deleted, the owners said “mounting financial pressures” had made it impossible to continue with the business.

For promoters like Hayley Woods, founder of drum’n’bass fundraising night Rave and Raise, the Harley offered a vital first chance to put on an event. “Everyone’s feeling a bit lost,” she told the Guardian. “It was a pivotal part of the Sheffield music scene and a big place for the whole community to come together and meet. It’s just an irreplaceable venue.”

Two weeks after the Harley shut, the Maze in Nottingham, central to the rise of Clifton singer-songwriter Jake Bugg, announced it will close its doors in June. Proprietors Gaz and Steph Peacham, who have run the venue for 15 years, cited similar reasons for their decision.

Gaz Peacham pointed to licensing laws and changing drinking habits, adding: “There’s been a lot of love for the place and great sadness, which is how we feel too, but it’s the right decision. It’s not good for our health anymore.”

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