Photography: Marieke Hargreaves-Macklon / @mariekemacklon

One of the most important venues of Merseyside’s recent musical history has announced it will permanently close today.

In an emotional statement Zanzibar Club director Scott Burgess said limited time on the lease, years of wear and tear and the “massive kick in the teeth” of Covid-19 has left continuing the club financially impossible.

With a proud 30 year history providing first live opportunities to innumerable local acts and fostering the seminal early 00s Scousedelia scene of bands such as THE CORAL and THE ZUTONS, The Zanzibar has earned a place in the top echelon of Liverpool live rooms.

The importance of the venue was brought to the fore in 2018 with the sad passing of founder Tony Butler. Stars of the local scene came out with moving tributes to the man who had made the club a vital springboard for many a music career.

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Louder Than Death at the Zanzibar, 2019. (Michael Kirkham)

News of the closure came from a team who have fought valiantly to keep an increasingly rare grassroots city centre venue open to build on Butler’s legacy. In his statement Burgess goes on to thank “all gig goers, friends that have turned into family” and how the club had been made to “like a second home” to the team.

The Zanzibar follows Sound Food and Drink as another recent venue closure in Liverpool, with the Zanzibar the latest victim of the devastation Covid-19 has wreaked on local music scenes around the country. The scarcity of small capacity venues will be a huge blow to Liverpool musicians who depend on such spaces to provide their first live experiences.

The futures of Manchester’s Gorilla and Deaf Institute were narrowly saved last week from imminent closure after £2.25 million of emergency funding was announced to save the futures of venues across the country.

Liverpool, however, is already counting the costs of a live music calendar left replete by social distancing measures.

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Willis Earl Beale, Sound City 2012. (John Johnson)

Closure announcement in full:

“Covid-19 has been a massive kick in the teeth for everyone. There has been a tragic amount of lost lives. Peoples hopes, dreams and livelihoods completely destroyed.
The entertainment and music industry has had the roughest ride of all. With business restrictions and lack of proper guidance, music venues will be among the last ones to reopen.

The Zanzibar Club has been a true survivor over the past 30 years, but with the current climate of uncertainty and the probability of remaining closed for a year, we have had to make the heart-breaking decision to permanently close our venue.
With very limited time left on our lease and too many years of wear and tear on our building structure puts us in a financially unattainable position to reopen.

From all the Zanzibar crew past and present we would like to say a huge thank you to all the performers that have graced the stage at Zanzibar and brought music and joy into many peoples lives. Thank you to all gig goers, friends that have turned into family – you all have made Zanzibar feel like a second home for us. We appreciate everyone for their loyal support over the years and wish you all the best for the future.”

Scott Burgess
Director
The Zanzibar Club

 

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Courtney Barnet, Sound City 2014. (Mike Sheerin)

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