The Stables at Wavenden in Milton Keynes is my new favourite live music venue.
It was built by Dame Cleo Laine and the late Sir John Dankworth in 1970, in the grounds of their home. It is now run as a charity providing world class music and entertainment. There are also hundreds of educational events held each year. You can learn to play the ukulele or even study songwriting with Beth Nielsen Chapman.
The Jim Marshall Auditorium seats just 398, but attracts a diverse range of artists from Seth Lakeman to Sarah Millican via T'Pau. There is also a second stage hosting even more intimate performances from up and coming artists.
Late last year I saw that Turin Brakes were playing at The Stables. I'd seen them earlier in the year at Esquires in Bedford and wanted to see them again. Andy already had a ticket to see Luke Haines that night so we got a babysitter and I decided to see Turin Brakes on my own. I managed to book a single ticket in the front row.
Everything about my experience of The Stables was fantastic. Stewards ensured the parking was well-organised. Yes, I do realise how middle-aged I sound. All of the staff inside the venue were friendly and helpful too. We were all ushered into our seats ready for the support band. I don't think rockers Strange Empire had ever experienced such a polite, seated, appreciative crowd. I think they enjoyed the experience. We did.
Turin Brakes were amazing, of course. The sound quality was excellent. They played most of one of the best albums of all time, The Optimist LP, as well as tracks from their other albums. They also treated us to some new songs. I can't wait for the new album. They are great musicians. I love them. Me, gush? Never. Okay, just a little bit.
At one point they hopped off the stage and did an acoustic number, like a band of wandering minstrels.
Despite us staying in our seats (we didn't want to get a friendly telling off from the ushers), I hope the band knew we were loving the gig. There were ovations and encores galore at the end.
Dear Turin Brakes,
Please please please please come and play The Stables again soon.
Thanks, Sandy x
In the meantime I shall take my pick from Jane Siberry, Midge Ure, Ricky Ross, Richard Herring, Chas n Dave, 4 Poofs & A Piano, Hazel O'Connor, Sam Lee, Ruby Turner, Gretchen Peters, Elkie Brooks...