Live music returns to The Black Prince as work continues on venue renovation
Maddox Jones will headline the Abington Square venue this weekend with more gigs planned as lockdown measures are lifted.
The Black Prince will see live music return to its outdoor stage this weekend while work continues on the upgrade of its main indoor venue.
During lockdown, owners of the Northampton pub and music venue have been making a series of improvements which have included relocating the main stage to its original place at the back of the venue and increasing the capacity by removing a narrow corridor people were previously funnelled through at the entrance.
On Saturday, May 22, singer songwriter Maddox Jones will headline the Abington Square’s outdoor stage and at the end of this month, Billy Lockett – who hasn’t played live in Northampton since headlining the Roadmender in 2019 – will play a free outdoor gig at the venue to end his UK tour.
In recent years, promotions manager Phil Moore has worked with The Black Prince to re-establish it as one of the town’s main venues for emerging local musicians while also bringing touring acts to town.
He said: “We made a plan last year to work on the live room, the main thing being making it physically bigger.
“There will be a new PA, lights and floor and the stage has gone back to the ‘correct’ end.
“It was an ongoing issue we had to solve and now was the time to do it and it’s going to look great.”
The upgrade should see capacity increase from around 200 to 250.
Mr Moore added: “The Black Prince is incredibly important to Northampton.
“We’re not the Roadmender, but are a significant jump up from bands playing in the corner of a pub.
“Your 250 to 300 capacity venues are really where you want to be for up-and-coming touring acts.
“Bands love being able to fill a room and still be able to feel the energy of the audience which is what you get here.”
Before lockdown last year, the venue had been busy re-establishing itself on the touring circuit and had hosted the likes of Working Men’s Club, Red Rum Club, Rozi Plain, ROAM, Look Mum No Computer, Hands Off Gretel and others.
Talking about the work still to be done, Mr Moore said: “We’ve still got the boring stuff to do in the venue, a bit of painting, the PA set up, lights, a rail around the back of the stage, all of the things which make a venue more attractive and more 'venue like'.
“We’re not far off and we can't wait to be putting on regular events following the post-pandemic period.
“We're rocking and rolling outside for now and are part of the Music Venue Trust’s ‘Revive Live’ campaign to bring back live music safely.
“We’ve got lots of protocols we can work within to make it enjoyable and safe for the public.
“We're very excited to be welcoming people back. The future's bright - the future’s Black.”
Maddox Jones, who will headline The Black Prince’s Garden stage this weekend, was among the first to play on its stage during the venue’s socially distanced outdoor performances last summer.
The former frontman of The Departure and Born Stranger –will again be joined by Dave Crawford.
He said: “The Black Prince has really carved a name for itself with the great garden space and good vibes over the past year.”
Talking about his latest single, Can’t Wait For The Summer, he said: “I wrote it in February. I was moving house and found an old eight track recorder I use to use back in the day.
“It kinda got me feeling nostalgic so I ended up writing this song, which is actually about future memories that haven’t happened yet.”
Despite not being able to tour because of Government restrictions, 2020 saw Maddox Jones return as a solo artist and as a more prominent fixture within the county’s music scene.
He said: “2020 was an important year for me to be honest.
“I just decided to be more true to myself and write songs about how I’m actually feeling.
“It seems to have connected with people more than perhaps previous projects have.
“It’s also cool to be a solo artist and in a way the songs feel more personal because of it.”
Having worked with the likes of Crawford, Lockett and Louis Souyave on songs, Jones is now turning his attention to an album which he hopes will be released this year.
He said: “I’m still a few songs away from the album being done but I’m excited to get a proper body of work out there. It’ll be the first album I’ve released for years.
“There will be another single announced shortly as well.
“The aim is to have it out this year, so watch this space. I’m sure I will be touring as well to support the record.”