Damon drank there, Jarvis danced there, Britpop was born there. The Laurel Tree in Bayham Street was a backstreet drinking hole with treacherously narrow stairs and a habit of playing music too loud for the neighbours. Council inspectors thought the upstairs function room was a health hazard.
But once a week throughout the mid-1990s the venue played host to some of the hottest young stars of the British music scene. Blur, Elastica, Suede and Pulp were regulars at its northern soul and mod night, Blow Up, which was started in 1993 by DJ and promoter Paul Tunkin as a reaction to the invasion of US Grunge scene on the U.K. charts at the time.
The Laurel Tree, now and then
Coldplay played their very first gig there, on January 16, 1998. They didn't even have a name. So, for the night, they went with "Starfish."
At its peak in 1995, Melody Maker magazine declared The Laurel Tree “The Club That Changed The World”. And it has been voted one of the Top Ten Clubs of the 1990s by Time Out Guidebooks, and one of the 5 Classic Clubs of Our Time by Vox magazine.
But the pub’s fortunes went into decline when Blow Up moved to a larger venue in Soho in 1996. The Laurel Tree closed in 1999 after the narrow stairs to its upstairs room were deemed unfit for use.
Coldplay Remember Their First Gig (at The Laurel Tree)