The Tunbridge Wells Forum is more than just a music venue. For the past twenty-five years it has been the very heart and soul of the local community, a fundamental hub for the surrounding area, providing, not only an important meeting place, but the ideal location for birthday parties, charity fundraisers, gay pride celebrations, a variety of live events, and more. As well as playing host to the likes of Green Day, Adele and Ellie Goulding, the venue has supported the rise of some of the current music scene’s most prolific young voices, and has remained the favourite haunt of the town’s success stories (Anti-Nowhere League, Slaves) and many more in between.
As a teenager growing up in the rural suburbs, The Forum not only felt like a musical lifeline for me, but became a place that I grew very fond of. Providing me with a haven to seek out what I loved (at the time obnoxious post-hardcore), the venue also introduced me to the bands which are now among those I call my favourites, such as Drenge, Superfood, and Inheaven, as well as to genres from eras of which I had never been exposed to before. If one night Miss May I took to the stage, you could be assured that the next they would be followed by someone completely different, with regulars including John Cooper Clarke and John Otway and the Big Band.
The Forum has also made a name for itself by providing an abundance of opportunities for local musicians and unsigned bands. Hosting Unfest in May every year, a free fringe festival open to those of all ages, the event showcases the talents of a range of unsigned artists and provides the town’s youth with an opportunity to catch some quality live music.
In fitting with this theme, The Forum has released a compilation CD featuring local and veteran artists to celebrate twenty-five years of operation. ’25 Years and Beyond’ encapsulates the past and present of the venue. As Isobel Dormon of The Forum states “I didn’t want the anniversary to be just nostalgia, but to also look towards the next 25 years. A compilation album featuring the exciting, emerging artists who play at The Forum regularly now, and who will go on to do more in the future, was the perfect way to celebrate the next 25 years too.”
“The bands were chosen by the team who constantly put on gigs, festivals and events and know who are the most exciting, talented musicians rehearsing and playing gigs at The Forum. We wanted to choose bands who reflect the many genres which play the venue, so we have punk, rock, electronic, acoustic and pop featured on the record. Joeyfat are included as they were the first band to play the Forum in January 1993, and they have been having a resurgence with a BBC Radio 6 session and a number of gigs in the last year.” You can purchase the CD and other anniversary merchandise here, and view the tracklist below.
Dead Ceremony – You & Me
Joeyfat – Fetch Diego
Lectures – Blackout Number
WAX – Bikini Models
Lily Denning – Hands
Mike Wilton – Living in a Different Age
Lady Bird – Shagtallytastic
Orestea – Eggshells
The Bay Rays – The Chamber
JC Palmer – Shake the Hand
Joeythin – Meal Moths (Pupal Stage)
With performances from Pale Waves, Frank Turner and The Wedding Present already under their belts for 2018, The Forum team have yet more lined up for the rest of the year. You can catch The Gallerys, Roam, Arcane Roots and Stella Donnelly over the next couple of months to name just a few. You can also view the full listings here.