When it was announced earlier this year that the future of Hull’s Adelphi Club had been secured after gaining Community Interest Company (CIC) status, music fans from near and far celebrated. The story even made BBC News. What did the Adelphi’s legendary owner, Paul Jackson, do to mark the achievement? He made plans to go fishing.
Since Paul took over the club in 1984, the 200-capacity Adelphi has become part of live music folklore, renowned not just in Hull but across the UK and further afield. One of the country’s most celebrated independent venues, it has hosted tens of thousands of artists over the last three decades, helping young musicians to hone their craft and bringing quality live music – plus comedy, poetry, theatre and spoken word – to the city. Radiohead, Green Day, Pulp, The Stone Roses, Oasis, PJ Harvey, The La’s, Manic Street Preachers and Supergrass are just some of the huge names that have appeared on hand-written Adelphi flyers over the years.
Paul has lived and worked at the club for 34 years, clocking up 20-hour days to put on gigs and club nights almost every night. The club becoming a CIC was Paul’s idea, and will help to ensure its legacy. Many similar independent venues have closed in recent years in a difficult financial climate, and Paul has had to fight numerous times to keep the Adelphi open.
With the club’s future now more secure, he insists he is not retiring, but is looking forward to being slightly less ‘hands-on’. Paul said: “The CIC status will hopefully provide the Adelphi – and therefore the community – with continuity. It ensures our profits go towards the public good and will help to protect the Adelphi name and its reputation. While there’s still work to be done, it goes some way in reflecting the Adelphi being recognised as an asset to live music and art, not just locally but nationally.
Paul continued: “In an era of corporate saturation, of bigger venues and increasing profits at the expense of audiences and musicians, we’re passionate about preserving the Adelphi’s original ideas. We deal with lots of artists and promoters – my favourite artists are the DIY ones who don’t want to jump on the corporate bandwagon, those who resist being controlled and remodelled by big companies. It’s increasingly difficult to resist it – therefore the ones who manage to stay independent are, to me, the greatest musicians on the planet.”
A number of musicians – Jarvis Cocker and Paul Heaton, plus two of Paul’s favourite independent artists, Jeffrey Lewis and Ed Hamill – have been named as patrons of the Adelphi under its new CIC status.
“We’re building up a list of patrons, as it helps to grow the profile of the club, but we’re not ones to brag and namedrop for the sake of it. The number of people associated with the Adelphi is constantly growing. We’ve now got a large team of very talented people here, which means that I can enjoy a break now and again.”
It’s likely that Paul won’t be able to spend too much time away. He is excited for a host of upcoming gigs: “We have a particularly great sequence of shows at the end of April. A Hawk and a Hacksaw play on 26 April: Jeremy Barnes of the band was the drummer in the legendary Neutral Milk Hotel – in the 1990s, they were at the centre of the independent American resistance to corporate saturation. AHAAH’s music now is more rooted in classic Eastern European gypsy folk music, performed by a lovely couple living the classic wandering gypsy lifestyle of DIY musicians.
“There’s also Shonen Knife (24 April), a Japanese punk-pop band beloved of Kurt Cobain who supported Nirvana on a world tour, plus Rob Heron and The Tea Pad Orchestra (25 April), who are another very fine band.”
There are plans this summer too, for a series of films about the club to be released. And then there’s the fishing, and striving for that all-important work-life balance. Unsurprisingly, Paul has had little time to enjoy more relaxing pursuits until recently. He said: “It’s been an ambition of mine for a while now to have more of a balance. I like to go to nice places, to see kingfishers and otters, to get outside and be part of the landscape. I’ve managed it four times in six years though, so there’s definitely room for improvement.”
Here’s to Paul finally getting some downtime in the great outdoors, and to a prosperous future for the Adelphi Club.