The Musicians’ Venue
In 2016, the latest incarnation of The Corner, one of the most famous and influential live music venues in the country, turns 20.
Just the other side of Swan Street from 381 Cremorne and in easy distance, too, from East Richmond train station, this wedge-shaped building with its rooftop venue and its prominent billboard listings is as much Richmond as the laneways and heritage factory signs.
There’s been a pub on that corner since the 1870s, but the current building went up in 1966. It’s musical history goes way back to jazz concerts in 1940s Melbourne, inspired by the influx of American soldiers during the hedonistic escapist days of darkest wartime.
With its near-city locale, and proximity to the grunge-suburbs made so famous during the pub-rock 1980s, The Corner has History, with a very big, very loud, capital H. This is where, in 1988, Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger famously strutted his stuff supposedly unannounced, but word got out and thousands turned up. It became a bit of a tradition: Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour played unannounced in the same year.
So this is the musicians’ venue, the place they go to listen as well as to play, and it’s famous too for farewell concerts, with Joe Strummer of The Clash playing there before he died in 2000, and Crowded House playing there just prior to their final Opera House concert.
Since late 1995, under the management of Tim Northeast and Richard Moffatt, it’s developed an extraordinary seven-day-a-week program, with big names alongside the innovative and experimental.
They pride themselves on hosting bands “before they were huge”. Ben Harper, The White Stripes, Buzzcocks, Wolfmother, Violent Femmes… as they say, the list goes on.
“Every year belongs to one or two acts,” they recall, naming Powderfinger in 1996, Something for Kate in 1998, as examples of how no-names turned household following their appearance at the Corner.
The venue is also a hotel, with a kitchen serving up pizza, meatballs, burgers and chicken, in the rooftop bar, as well as the Front Bar.
The popular gigs sell out, but there’s always something interesting on at The Corner, so maybe just try your luck. You never know, it might just be the next big thing.