Talking Heads SAVED by Student and Lecturer

Soton student and Solent lecturer partnering up to sort out Talking Heads.

Support for the Heads poured in from around the country.

Following the closure of popular Portswood music venue the Talking Heads in January, the Soton Tab can reveal that the venue has now been bought out—by a Southampton University student, no less—and is set to relaunch at the end of March.

Calm down though, those rumours about Radio 1’s Rob da Bank getting involved are complete rubbish.

Mature student and “experienced business developer” Guy Benfield is working with Martin White, himself a lecturer at Solent, to refurbish what had become a rather grotty venue ahead of the relaunch (they did give all the furniture away, so probably necessary).

Many people in the Southampton music scene were surprised at the sudden closure of the Talking Heads.  During its two decades, the venue was known for nurturing up-and-coming local bands and being a stepping stone to the Joiners in St Mary’s—the city’s prime independent gig space.  Despite a slew of high-profile gigs in recent years—names such as Skindred, Mumford and Sons and The Bronx—the venue was unable to escape the same gravitational pull that drew in Oceana and Chilli White’s at the end of 2011.

The difference has come from the grass-roots: a Facebook and retweeting campaign, which garnered 4,000 followers and messages of support from artists around the country, has proven the loyalty of the venue’s fan base and its viability as a business.

The new incarnation of the Talking Heads aims to be a hub for the local music subculture.  It will stage drama, comedy and poetry acts alongside a wide range of musical styles, and during the day hold community workshops for dance, theatre and music production.  Whether this Jack-of-all-trades approach is the right path to take remains to be seen.

The news puts paid to fears that the iconic music venue, with its 20-year pedigree, would be turned into another dreary block of flats by property developers.