The pleasingly ramshackle area of central London where punk was born and you went to buy a banjo is now includes a multi-billion ‘super-flexible brand engagement platform’. So is it as awful as it sounds?
Once upon a time, just outside Soho in central London, there was a legendary hive of musical energy. It was centred on Denmark Street – Britain’s Tin Pan Alley – a strip of shops selling instruments and sheet music, with clubs and bars and such things as production facilities and agents’ and managers’ offices on the upper floors, where new-in-town fans and nascent musicians could mingle with stars. Everything to do with music – writing, producing, performing, listening, selling – could be done within its short length.
An almost endless roll call of greats made music there: Lionel Bart, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, George Michael, the Libertines, Adele, Ed Sheeran. The young David Bowie, desperate to be in the street where it happened, camped there in a converted ambulance. The Sex Pistols launched their career from a Denmark Street flat. Just across Charing Cross Road, in Soho proper, was the London Astoria, a venue big enough for 2,000 people.