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It was a sad day when the owners of iconic Birmingham pub The Rainbow decided to close their doors for the final time. Over the years the legendary Victorian venue has built up a reputation for offering an innovative and eclectic mix of live music from both national and international artists, being a supporter of the local music scene and a welcoming alternative to the mainstream bars around the city. Once the news of the closure proved to be more than just rumours, previous owner, Lee McDonald, stated ”I want somebody to take on the building and give it a new identity, a new lease of life, a new beginning. I want to see enthusiasm and the same level of commitment and love it has had through the years from me and my team”.
Despite the initial disappointment that yet another live music establishment had drawn its final curtain, recent days have proved that the rainbow’s pot of gold is still within reach as new owners Danny Murphy, Paddy McKeever and Isaac Cartwright, have taken over the Digbeth High Street premises and are busy rejuvenating it with all the TLC that it deserves. Renaming it, The End, they are eager to open their doors, crank up the music and let a new era for the building begin by providing the city with it’s brand new rock venue.
We had a chat to Paddy to find out more about their hopes and plans for their exciting new venture.
Have you worked in bars/music venues previously?
We have a good mix as Danny has a background in pubs, bars and clubs, I have experience with bookings/events and Isaac has a background in sound engineering and music. We are all local and with our ages being 25, 31 and 30, we are one of the younger teams in Birmingham running a mid-sized venue. We have all worked in bars and music venues previously, including ones with much larger capacities, but this venue isn’t really about us, it’s about what it represents and the feel of the place, which is all about being welcoming and accepting of an eclectic mix of music and people.
Did you visit the venue regularly when it was operating as The Rainbow?
We have visited the venue a lot when it was The Rainbow. Issac has worked here as a sound engineer before and Danny has attended many of the gigs and events. I have put shows on here many years before as well as being an attendee at a lot of the drum ‘n’ bass and house events that used to occur, along with attending many metal and rock gigs that have been put on by some of the wonderful local promoters we have in Birmingham.
So you have good knowledge of the Birmingham music scene?
We are all huge regulars on the local music scene, between the three of us we are probably reasonably well known at almost every single live music venue in Birmingham. We all have varied tastes and skills that we bring to the table, but what we do share is a huge love of music and it’s ability to bring people together.
What attracted you to taking the venue over? What do you love about it?
We pretty much took over the venue by accident, we originally became involved to help out someone else and just planned on becoming staff here, but circumstances evolved and it was like fate. We all felt at home at this beautiful, magical venue and we have put so much of ourselves into it that it just felt the natural step to take this on ourselves when the opportunity arose. We feel like we owed it to ourselves and to Birmingham as a whole because we genuinely believe this is the sort of place Birmingham really needs.
What we love about this venue is that it has so much history and tradition rooted in rock music and a whole mix of genres. We love how just one building can bring on so many different vibes. Being in the bar makes you feel like you’re in a really cool pub, in the courtyard you feel free and can relax like you’ve suddenly been transported out of the city, and in our basement area you feel like you’re in a random crazy nightclub or intimate gig venue. It’s just got this community centre/home feel to the place whilst somehow offering a little bit of various experiences you get at other venues. There’s just something really special about this place.
What changes will you be making?
We are making some changes to the basement and courtyard and other little changes here and there….but we’d rather people come and see for themselves after our grand opening! I know we are being a bit secretive but honestly some of the changes are hard to explain. We are focusing on utilizing the space better and making the whole place just look improved without messing too much with the character of the venue and maintaining the respect for the traditions of the place too.
Will there be any regular drinks offers, deals or discounts?
There will be a variety of drinks deals and offers….. but we’ll announce those in due course. What we will be launching from the opening night on-wards is a membership scheme. Basically, for a very reasonable price this will give you 12 months free entry into the venue with no queuing, access to members only special events and 10% off a huge variety of drinks. Whilst everyone is welcome at The End we believe that people’s loyalty to venues can be taken for granted or not appreciated, so we want to take the opportunity to show the people that support this venue and what it represents that we massively appreciate them!
Do you plan on putting regular live music nights on?
In it’s heart this place is and always will be a live music venue, so there will be plenty of regular live music nights here. Local bands, artists and performers will be at the forefront of everything we do so they will definitely get opportunities to be involved in a variety of shows at The End.
How can bands contact you to enquire about playing here?
Bands can click ‘like’ and keep an eye on our Facebook page as we’ll be posting contact details for bookings, etc, very soon. But for now , if they have an urgent query they can drop us a message via Facebook.
What date will be your opening night?
Our opening night will be August 5th and all information related to that will be announced this week through our Facebook page.
What hopes and plans do you have for the venue for the future?
We are taking measures to ensure that our venue is a safe space for women and men, as from working in the industry previously, we have witnessed and experienced many awful things and don’t believe enough is always done at some venues to protect staff and customers from uncomfortable situations that can unfortunately arise at gigs and club nights etc. We want everyone here to feel safe and heard, and between us, our staff and our security, we will do everything we can to ensure that’s the case at The End. The way we look at it is keep your hands in the air or keep them to yourself!
The venue is unlike any other and we’ll be having events and things happening here throughout the week and at weekends, so our hopes for the future of the venue is just to become a hub where people can feel at home, can come to us for help, to talk about music and be a place where music of many genres, but especially rock, gets a chance to grow and thrive. We support art of all types though, so it’s not just music that will have a welcoming home here, all the people and communities connected to art of all types all do too. I guess our biggest hope for the future is to give people the feeling of being truly at home that we get from being at The End.
The End is located at 160 High Street, Digbeth, B12 0LD and information regarding the official opening night and upcoming events can be accessed via the Facebook page.
On behalf of Counteract we wish the owners all the best for their new venture and encourage all our readers to pay them a visit and show their support for Digbeth’s new venue, The End.
English and Media Studies graduate, frequent traveler, vinyl and vintage enthusiast….fan of delta blues, folk, 60s/70s rock, psychedelia and the many gaps in between. Favourite artists include Wooden Shjips, Radio Moscow, All Them Witches and too many others to mention.