Ipswich: Big name rock acts in town as The Railway relaunch gathers steam

Daryl Antenbring is a man on a mission to get live music in Ipswich back on track; starting with taking over The Railway. He reveals his vision, and some of the big acts coming to town, to entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE

IT was one of the must played venues in Ipswich, with the likes of the Stranglers, Bad Manners, Magnum and Status Quo among those who graced its stage. Lately, it’s been more famous for the cloud hanging over its future. That’s about to change.

“Whenever I put a show on in there I’ve always done well. It’s got a lot of history but there’s been all these rumours about it closing, being boarded up, being a supermarket, blah blah blah,” says Daryl. “When Michelle and Phil decided to move on and the brewery approached me saying ‘we don’t want to close it’ I thought it was the right opportunity.”

He’s so passionate about restoring the Foxhall Road venue to its former glory that he’s just quit his 18-year career as an aircraft engineer.

“It deserves 100 per cent of my focus. This is definitely a mission. I’ve said it before, I get frustrated because I love Ipswich, I love the people and I love music. It’s got a very healthy music scene but it’s got no one driving it.

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“Since the days of The Gaumont we get leap-frogged every single time with international touring bands going to Cambridge or Norwich. There’s no reason for it to be that way. The pubs are doing alright, but they’re not a venue. It’s alright if you want to watch a local cover band or whatever, but touring bands aren’t going to play them,” sighs Daryl, who’s keen to stress he’s not out to take business away from other venues in the town.

Quite the opposite. He’s already looking at plans to work with pubs in Ipswich and beyond about possibly staging a major live music festival at Glemham Hall next year. In the meantime, he’s got some great bands coming.

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OD Saxon, featuring founding members of metal legends Saxon Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson, are headlining the newly renamed The Railway Venue’s official opening on August 4.

Heavy metal legend Dawson is being drowned out by a train conductor of all things when I call to chat about his and Oliver’s appearance.

Their last visit to the town sold out in next to no time; they’re hoping for the same this time around and are both more than happy to throw their support behind


“It’ s in our interests to create good ven-ues, because venues in these current cir-cumstances are shutting down quite frequently. We’re more than willing to lend

our support to a new one. I think it’ll be a great night, we’ll certainly go 200 per cent to make it so.”

Dawson and Oliver were founding members of Saxon, formed in South Yorkshire in the 70s and who went on to become front-runners of the new wave of British heavy metal; scoring countless hits around the world during the 80s.

The duo reunited in 1994 and audiences on August 4 can expect all the classic stuff plus tracks from OD Saxon’s new album Motorbiker which is doing really well on the download charts.

“It depends how long we can play. If we can play all night we will do. We’ve a huge repetoire to pick from,” he laughs.

Supporting them will be Bad Touch and there’ll be a free curry too.

Rockers Fahran [August 8] are playing on their way home from performing on the main stage at Hyde Park on the Sunday. On September 9 Uli Jon Roth of The Scorpions comes to town, followed by 80s rockers GUN who are taking a break from touring with The Cult to perform on September 15.

You can read my interview with the latter’s Jools Gizzi nearer the time.

Tickets are already selling well for many of the acts, particularly GUN. More big names have already pledged to play there, but I’m bound to secrecy for now.

The other obstacle facing Daryl is The Railway’s reputation as solely a tribute band venue.

“Unfortunately the tribute scene is so saturated, it’s been watered down by people who throw a wig on, stand on stage and say we’re a tribute band. You’re exactly right when you say there’s a bit of stigma attached to cover bands.

“It’s not a tribute band venue. I’ve a lot of tributes coming because there’s a market for them but they’re the best at what they do in the country and we’re only charging a five for most of them or putting them on for free. Gilby Clarke of Guns N’ Roses wanted to jump on stage and play with The Guns N’ Roses Experience [August 10] which was amazing for them. Steven Adler toured with them.

“Two weeks ago they were in front of 6,000 people. They’re off to play Switzerland’s Rock City, they’re playing Spirit 66 in Belgium. The lead singer of The Sex Pistols Experience [August 25] flew out to Japan this morning with Public Image Ltd. UB42 [September 14] include the original drummer of the Specials and the brass section of UB40.”

He’s not making many changes to the venue right now; the fireplace will be covered, some windows blacked out and an area created for bands to sell their merchandise. The most notable additions is all the new sound and lighting equipment being installed by Universal PA Hire, who did a lot of the sound for the recent Olympic Torch celebrations.

“I’ve got a big, big rig. I’m not going to be using it to its capacity because I’ll just blow everybody’s heads off,” he laughs. “The fact is when you walk into the venue you’re going to see big subs, a really good sound booth, the stage is going to look amazing and the lights will be great.”

What Daryl, and his wife Kate, who’s been instrumental in the project, are really concentrating on is the music. With that in mind, they’re opening their doors to local acts too.

Ipswich-based Key Features play on August 3. Entry is free with a free curry thrown in.

The couple want to hear from more bands keen to play.

“I’ve got days where I’m not doing anything and would like original acts to contact me. I’m happy for them to say ‘look, we’re in a band, we’re fairly new. I’ve got a half an hour set’. I say ‘sure but go and bring a couple more bands for the night, so we have full night of music and bring all your mates down’.

“I’m going to be open anyway. If I can open up and I’ve got a bunch of students in there using the big rig, great lights and all their friends are having a great time you can’t ask for any more than that.”

For more details on who’s playing The Railway Venue visit www.ipswichrailwayvenue.co.uk and here for new additions. Acts interested in playing there can call Daryl on 07970 436040 or e-mail theipswichrailway@live.co.uk

For the latest regional, national and world entertainment news follow me on Twitter @WhatsonWayne

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