It was announced last Sunday evening (26thFebruary) that the team behind music venue The Well in Leeds are to pull out of running the venue and that their doors will close for the final time on Saturday 10th March. A statement by The Well’s general manager Kevin Berry was put out explaining their reasons for the closure:
‘Hi all, with deepest regret, we as a team are going to be pulling out of The Well music venue after March 10th. We’ve loved helping rebuild this once great venue’s reputation back up these past few years, and would like to thank all who mucked in.
Sadly The Well isn’t a viable business due to our brewery superiors & building owners Enterprise Inns’ rates and J Pullen and Sons and the restrictions they implement on us running our music venue. Everyday has been an uphill battle from day one and frankly we’re all tired of this vicious circle and fighting with two other companies to carry on. There has been no leeway with either company over the years and have had to find ways of working around them. Sadly with the sheer level of restrictions (partly due to the building possibly being turned into a restaurant in the future) there is no way to break even never mind make anything which resembles a profit. I, Anthony Mortimer, Chris Flynn and others in the past have worked endless weekly hours with no wage to try and make this venue work, sadly all our efforts have been for nought.
…I’d like to thank everyone for supporting us in the past and with the wealth of familiar faces I’ve seen in the bar night in night out, you’ve been more than patrons but family to us (mainly as we barely ever see our families, never mind the outside world).’
On a personal note, this news saddens me as much as anyone else. I can’t say I was that regular a visitor to The Well, but I had attended since 2004 when Chimaira performed there. I’ve only been sporadically since, but will always remember in particular going to see Rufio, a damn fine pop-punk band, Eyehategod in April 2010, where I think I nearly died, such was the beating I took in the pit, and Black Breath last year, which was an awesome experience in so many ways. That this part of my life is to be no more, at least in this particular part of town, is extremely sad. The Well in particular offered something vibrant and varied to the area, not just hosting international calibre acts but by regularly hosting up and coming bands from Leeds, West Yorkshire and indeed the wider area, giving them a chance to make a name for themselves. I’d have never got into The Afternoon Gentlemen or End to Empires, for example, if they weren’t given the chance to perform there.
I’m also sure that I can speak for everybody when I say what a sad indictment this is of the times we live in. The Well was a fantastic independent gig venue which has fallen by the wayside like so many, all in the name of the Joseph’s Well complex’s greedy owners, J Pullan and Sons Ltd, whose pie-in-the-sky idea for another restaurant in a city already containing so many food establishments is surely a crock of crap, all in the name for a quick buck, and I really feel more needs to be done to protect venues like these from going by the wayside. When The Well first announced the news of J Pullan’s request to pubco Enterprise Inns, fans and supporters of The Well rallied, but I had a very uneasy, sinking feeling when that news was made public, like it was only a matter of time. I’m dejected to say the least to discover my hunch was right.
The final gig at The Well will indeed be this coming Saturday, when US metalcore stalwarts The Acacia Strain head into town with Brutality Will Prevail, TRC and Martyr Defiled. Tickets are still available at £10 advance, with a free aftershow party being hosted by The Well going into the early hours with special guests. The team are also in discussions with other venues around Leeds to relocate all upcoming gigs that were booked, and will endeavour to ensure these dates go ahead as normal.
I’ll leave it there because I could go on and on about this, but it would only make for more depressing reading than it already is. Hopefully the guys have something planned for the future and I guess we’ll have to wait and see. From We Must Obey, thank you guys for running a damn fine venue under such circumstances and making it into a quality name over the years. You will be missed.