The COTW Spotlight is a series of unpaid spots for small businesses and artists that we feel should get recognition. Clothing, jewellery, et al; The one rule is it’s something we’ve bought and used ourselves…
Over the 19th, 20th and 21st of February 2016, Cat on the Wall’s staff (meaning me… ahem) found themselves on a very exciting miniature road trip with our favourite group, Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons. One particular venue we visited was The Bear in Northampton, which we feel is fitting for a spotlight today…
The Bear is a very handsome, inviting looking building and I’m pleased to say that, thanks to the hard work of Andy and his cronies, the interior is just as pleasant and endearing. It’s been completely built up, over the past year and a bit from what I understand were much less inviting roots. The result is a very well equipped, everything-under-one-roof sort of pub – hot food, taps, spirits, a football table, darts, dominos and a surprisingly capable stage all on offer on the building’s ground floor.
It’s a seriously impressive little home grown, something we’ve never really seen for ourselves before, and it was rather nice to see it carrying such a fine, inviting atmosphere. The place benefits from a lot of space, but none of it feels wasted or empty. Myself and the group found ourselves exploring the numerous accoutrements when we should have been productive; surely a good sign if nothing else that the venue warrants a good rummage around. The football table’s coin slot is a bit confusing though.
The stage is a very low, long, shallow sort of construct the likes you might have seen in a lot of old pubs that get bought up by Wetherspoons, but with the right band (particularly for a three piece) and a bit of clever planning it’s quite ample – the bar is also quite happy to pop some people and equipment down on the floor if need be, which forms a fun variant on the usual staging that you’d get in a dedicated venue. The lighting is extremely minimal, but makes use of everything it has. That’s more than a lot of good venues are willing to do, so make of that what you will.
The sound, it has to be said, is much better than I was expecting. While it’s certainly no show stopper, the simple albeit pleasant stage is very much exemplified in its sound – nothing feels obscured or masked and the techies are very happy to go trolling in the audience as well as behind their equipment. It doesn’t suffer from the one-sidedness or muddy sound a lot of smaller venues can carry as common complaints – although I will hold my hands up quite happily and admit I’m no audiophile. (See, we really do have no precedent for music criticism. How dare we value the music over the quality it’s presented in! Buy your pitchforks, etc…)
There’s also a rather enormous and eclectic CD collection at the disposal of the venue’s jukebox, which is added to with every new musician that performs in the venue and brings focus to any Northampton locals, too. The result, in a few years, will be a motley collection of who’s who in the pub’s performers providing a fantastic, varied ambience to the bar’s quieter days. If that’s not a good reason to keep coming back, I don’t know what is. (One envisages a rather wicked dance floor.)
One particularly recommends bands to look into The Bear if they want a stop on their tour; there are few venues so willing to drop everything to help a group, and collaborate to such an extent or such generosity. It’s truly a labour of love, this one – and it’s not only deserves celebrating, but deserves your band on its stage and your patronage.
11 Sheep Street