Last Orders at The Nowhere Inn | Outside of the frame | Photography Blog | Greenbeanz Photography | July 30th 2019
ABOVE : Outside The Nowhere Inn at night during Phil Fest in July of 2019
There was nothing uninteresting, nondescript or parochial about this local. The last house standing in a long gone terrace, The Nowhere Inn was always more than just a gathering place in which you could sup booze. Just like it's pub sign, now forever rattling back and forth at the crossroads of time, it was a signpost for multiplicity, pointing out the often overlooked fact that all directions eventually point to nowhere. It served as a broad church for the most diverse of congregations, and whilst you could hardly pretend that for the punks of Plymouth, the place was not important, is was always about much more than that one community. It had a kind of chameleon like quality that allowed it to be both intimate and epic at the same time. A great place for musicians and fans alike to come and get away from live music and the day job on some quiet days and nights, and a buzzing noisy venue to celebrate it when it hosted gigs on others.
ABOVE : Jo and Jack The Nowhere bar staff during Punks Picnic in September of 2015
It has inspired zines, been the place where the formation of bands were talked about in low conspirational voices, been the host for performance art and live music, fund raisers and quizzes and I will be forever indebted to the hospitality and kindness of Phil and Yot for allowing me to host an exhibition there, for providing me with countless special moments inside and outside the venue that could be as cosy as your living room and yet host bands from all over the country and fans that spilled out like a multi coloured Tom Baker scarf onto the street.
ABOVE : Actions and Consequence during the Punks Picnic at The Nowhere Inn in 2015.
Like having a party that starts in the back of a gigging transit at a festival, The Nowhere gave informal hugs out without ever expecting any back. It never bothered with the accoutrements of affectation because that would have been missing the point entirely. It was not so much a celebration of anonymity more an acknowledgement that nobody was more special than anybody else. The absence of a stage in a space that was sometimes occupied with a pool table and the placement of the ladies loo stage right, and stock room behind the bands, meant that the entertainers zone and that of the fans and staff was never clearly delineated. It was lovely how this remained the case whether it was an acoustic fiddle based folk three piece, or a hardcore four piece having to pause throwing shapes as a fan answered the call of nature, or while one of the bar staff walked behind the drummer to fetch the fuel to drive that call.
ABOVE: Paul Stapleton of Pog and Morv Brown Sound Engineer at The Nowhere in 2015
People talked an awful lot there. Something we do not do enough in this boxed off world, each of us in our little digital cubicles avoiding the feel of someone's breath or the transit of their arms as they explain in gestural dances the enthusiasm the subject shared has excited within them. I fear that there is no alternative that will fill the hole and allow us the respite of unpretentious and easily accessed solidarity in which music is the background, but community is the foreground, that gently moves us from group to group. From inside to outside, from band to fan to band to street to bar to fan to band.
ABOVE : I wanna be your dog - Gary Johnson with Dan's dog outside The Nowhere Inn
It was special because it was home at times to kids and dogs, it's own resident grizzly and a bar man whose label had fallen off. It was a home for the one offs , the odds, the punks, the Goths, the metalheads, the folkies, the indie darlings, the never drink Carlings, the crusties, the caretakers, care givers, bruised livers, the shared mission fuzzy envisioned.
ABOVE : An unforgettable performance by 'Plympton Sleepover' at The Nowhere Inn
You could not recreate it even with a packet of Jack's magic beans. It was a cocktail of improvised architectural alliterations in which every detail had to evolve like the graffiti in the toilets over years, as though Charlotte the spider had developed a literary consciousness and then walked through an ink pot and daubed her impressions of life across the walls after floating in a puddle of ale. You could create a facsimile and The Box around the corner, if it really gave a fuck about Plymouth, should do so, but it would never be the same. It would be like a beer mat pair of trousers made of tea towels that had never even heard of a pint, let alone mopped one up.
ABOVE : 'Art at the Nowhere' Legendary Fan browsing the legendary Jukebox at The Nowhere Inn
The Nowhere loved you and asked for nothing back. That is not just rare, it is an essential part of what makes the world work. Just metres away from the mall from hell, it avoided for so many years sinking under the weight of a corporate monolithic University infrastructure, crushing and compressing the dynamics and colours of the buildings all around it. It resisted being transformed into a flat monochrome desaturated husk. It was organic and moist, that is why Pog would come all the way down from Brighton and eight bands would turn up once a year to celebrate Phil for Phil Fest, and why the Punks Picnic would brilliantly democratize a line-up that spanned a wide bridge with a venue that prevented fans from standing on opposite sides.
ABOVE : POG playing at the 2019 Phil Fest at Plymouth's Nowhere Inn.
ABOVE : Souls of Misfortune at The Nowhere Inn Plymouth
ABOVE : Honey at the Nowhere a gig that nobody who was there that night will forget
It was never my local, but I think it felt like it, as it did for most people who were lucky enough to drink there. It was where I wrote one of my first reviews to get published in the local paper, at a time when articles were a bit more substantial than a repost of people's Facebook comments and a desultory half arsed summary. It was the location for me having to climb up onto the PA stands to capture an intense hardcore set by Actions and Consequence and a never forgotten blistering aural assault by Cornwall's Honey that did not leave my ears for 24hrs. It was the last place I can remember singing, joining The Cleaners and destroying the Clash's 'I'm so bored with the USA'. It was always the place that a boatload of scurvy ridden landlubbers would decant to, after The Cleaners Punks and Pirates boat trip. (Memorable on the final trip for Ash Hoares amazing dedication on his round trip for Ireland attending in an adult Parrot costume.)
ABOVE : Actions and Consequence from above
Unforgettable as the setting for a young and iconic Worried Shoes, Dom wrapped tightly against the imaginary indoor weather in a green anorak/cagoule/pacamac juxtaposed against the most impossibly stylish and handsome set of fans to ever grace the Inns hallowed floor. It was the first place I started putting my camera on the floor to catch the trademark wide shots of boots and converse trainers, a theme that walked it's way outside to capture Gary Johnson's beautifully shiny green docs and the nonplussed doggo stood beside them. A place where I will never forget someone soundchecking their flute by playing Slayer riffs thru a fuzzbox. It was as a venue a fixture in the Even Greer/Pog tour, at which Even bravely stepped up and drummed for the Brighton Folky punksters and she a few months later on returning to the states sent me a lovely email thanking me for the photographs that made that day so much less shit for me, than it originally was.
ABOVE : Boots at The Nowhere Inn
The Nowhere was where I witnessed Darren Johns extinguish the flames of more candles than a Hanukkah, Diwali and Candle-mass celebration combined. In one breath. It was more awesome even than those bellowing lungs launching a thousand hearts with Crazy Arm at the 2000 Trees festival. I have had my birthday there, sat with Jovian nursing our pints like Statler and Waldorf righting the wrongs of the world
J: That was the worst thing I’ve ever heard!
B: It was terrible!
B: Well it wasn’t that bad.
J: Oh, yeah?
B: Well, there were parts of it I liked!
J: Well, I liked a lot of it.
B: Yeah, it was GOOD actually.
J: It was great!
B: It was wonderful!
J: Yeah, bravo!
And that was on a night on which there were no bands.
ABOVE : Dom from Worried Shoes drags us all into his personal indoor thunderstorm
ABOVE : Billie at The Nowhere Inn
Bands like Monitor whose ability to draw you in and present the aural equivalent of a Beckett play interpreted by the Pixies, seemed as home in the Nowhere, as 'Play for the Day' was on BBC2. Ross' shadow looming over him, high on the ceiling from a low fired flash, as he gazes at his hand, the claustrophobic cartoon like cell quality of the bands square of floor space, confirmed by the comics and their shadowy villains adorning the walls. The same night the brilliantly talented Stephen Beer complimented me on my work , a sustaining mental nourishment one should never underestimate, facilitated by a space in which artists, poets and musicians liked to share more than just a drink.
ABOVE : Monitor wrapped the venue around you and kept you transfixed with magic
It was the first place I saw Elliot hoisted onto shoulders long before he was to grace the centre of the underground moshpit and then wall as a symbol of all that is vibrant, energised and committed linking together the Exeter and Plymouth punks/alternative/DIY scenes. The same image became central in promoting 'Blinded by the Sound' the exhibition space linking the Junction and Underground as part of a holy trio of venues that defined live music in this city for so many. It was also the place that many of those images became raffle prizes as part of Phil Fest, which surely has to be the most eclectic and awesome of raffles, getting more surprising and better every year with the generosity and sheer variety of collectible and funny prizes donated. It was where Andy from the Souls won a couple of limited edition records from my beloved English Beat, which finally after about three years of each of us forgetting to bring our swapsies to the same place, was handed over to me last week like a pair of Pannini enthusiasts in a playground, in a moment that Noel Edmunds (actually probably Cheggers) would have been proud of.
ABOVE : Landlady Yot with some Greenbeanz Images for the Phil Fest auction
The Nowhere will always also be a place for me where I can see Dave stood with his single snare and brushes and Dan jangling away with Chris and Chris backing him up. A band whose up-tempo foot stomping and unassuming positivity are almost in-extractable from the venue that so wonderfully complimented them. In fact Dan along with Yot and Jack and Jo and Morv and so many of the staff that made the place special should be applauded for holding out and making the Inn what it was for so long. You could not have invented a better Inn if you had written it into a script or dreamt about a place in which talking shop or talking shite (often the same thing), could just as easily be replaced with a pub quiz, a catch up with friends, or a game of what famous person that punter who just walked in looks like. It was that kind of place, where you could have easily accommodated a brigade of board game nerds in one corner and a melee of meandering musos in the other.
ABOVE: Dean Hutchinson at The Nowhere Inn for Phil Fest 2019
It is important that Phil Fest carries on and that the spirit The Nowhere gave you permission to indulge in, lives on. That feel of a proper talking pub in the city for musicians, and those to whom music is so important and central to their lives, and those who did not want to fit in elsewhere, where the urge to refill and refuel, regather your wits, was celebrated and encouraged.
ABOVE: Mo in a sunglasses covered space helmet heads toward the sun for The Spoils
The last days of the Nowhere should never stop any of us simply being nobody. That is after all the point of an Inn, it is a way to get out, by going in. Somewhere to let the rat race rush past, to pause and share. Last orders may well have been called but it should not stop you from going nowhere and being nobody.
ABOVE: Miss Von Trapp at The Nowhere Inn
ABOVE: The last night of The Nowhere Inn JULY 28 2019
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