Monday, 7 April 2014

Come On Feel the Noize

Being old, I remember this Slade number and used to enjoy it a lot. I still do.  What I do not enjoy though is being blasted my modern techno music in an ordinary pub at five o'clock on a Saturday afternoon. And when I say blasted, I mean it.  You couldn't hear a bloody word.

Saturday before last, after watching a friend perform at the Friends Meeting House, four of us were heading for a meal pre booked in central Manchester.  We had 45 minutes to spare, so a pint seemed a good idea.  Being near Holt's refurbished Ape and Apple, I suggested there.  The Ape and Apple used to be a fairly traditional boozer with a mixed clientele, mostly on the more mature side.  It was younger as a pub than it looked, but the sort of solid, dark wooded place you associate with Joeys. It was the venue of the Gasman's Annual Piss Up of which I wrote here and of their monthly meetings too.

Now the Gasmen don't meet there any more.  It changed and not for the better it seems.  I forgot this and when entering, observed it had been tarted up in a cheap way to look brighter, but not nicer, but it was packed, so no doubt had achieved its financial purpose, though it was rarely quiet before.  There was no music on when we entered, so we made our way to the bar and then the "music" started.  My friend was ordering and had to repeat himself before the barman could make out what he was saying.  We retreated to near the door, but conversation was impossible, so we supped up as quickly as we could and left. There wasn't a seat to be had in the place incidentally. So I guess it says as much about us as those who chose to stay and suffer it.

I tweeted Holts who promptly replied that I could have requested they "turn it down a notch".  I replied it needed many notches turning down and that I didn't go out of an afternoon to engage in a discussion about too much music noise that was unlikely to end well and that it simply shouldn't have been like that in the first place.  I also said I wouldn't be back and I won't be. Music in pubs is divisive, but this was in excess by any standard. and given the time of day, the clientèle and the type of music, completely inappropriate.

The Mild was "off" too.  Unsurprisingly. It wouldn't have been in the Gasmen days.

Now even if it had been Slade I wouldn't have stayed such was the volume, but it was the electronically produced stuff with a repeated base - like someone continually knocking on your head with a polisman's baton.


Cooking Lager said...

leave the kids to enjoy themselves, daddio, and go join the grandpops in the grotty old man boozer.

As you said, the placed was busy, that means lots of people like that sort of thing. You don't have to like it, just leave them to it.

Tandleman said...

But they weren't young Cookie. Maybe that's who they hope to attract though. The deaf maybe?

Cooking Lager said...

the younger at heart maybe?

stick to CAMRA pubs, matey. They are silent places of quiet real ale contemplation. No noise, music or enjoyment of any kind allowed. I know as I was in one recently. Everything was beige. People were holding beer up to the light and sniffing it

ABrewHaHa said...

just order in a quieter voice, when the barman eventually says they can't hear you just reply that if he can hear the music he must be able to hear you. A look of confusion will usually follow.

Then shout as loud as you can.

StringersBeer said...

So, you didn't find it "a relaxing mecca within the hustle and bustle of Manchester City Centre" as Holts promised?

Bailey said...

The Pub Curmudgeon was complaining about hip-hop being blasted in a pub full of fifty-somethings the other day which prompted a similar though to your reference to 'techno':

Chuck D from Public Enemy is 53; the bloke generally credited with inventing 'techno', Derrick May, is 51. People who listened to their music as students in the late 1980s are in their mid-40s.

So I'm not sure it's necessarily madness to have loud electronic music playing in pubs full of people with grey hair, some of whom were probably, in the parlance of the day, 'off their tits' on ecstasy in a field somewhere in 1989.

(Admittedly, the music I listen to these days is a lot more sedate than the stuff I liked when I was 20 -- maybe you do lose the appetite for it somewhat. And obviously, too loud is too loud.)

Curmudgeon said...

Time was when Holt’s pubs were grotty old man boozers, and all the better for it. They seem to be increasingly losing their USP now.

Music at earsplitting volume in a “normal” pub is to my mind totally unacceptable.

Cooking Lager said...

Here's a song to sum up what they've done to your pub.

Tandleman said...

Cookie: I thought you were going to do give us Chintzy Chintzy Paper. The old CAMRA anthem. Wonder if Boak and Bailey know about that?

Tandleman said...

"Now once there was a dartboard where we threw for double top

And the rattle of the skittles could be heard

But since the juke box came, nothing's ever been the same

And nobody can hear a bloody word"

Tandleman said...

Stringers: No. Funnily I didn't.
Mudgie: I don't get Holts at all nowadays.

Curmudgeon said...

@Tandleman: Robinson's seem to have a fairly clear idea of what they want to do with their pubs, but Holt's don't. Obviously in business terms they can't leave them as old men's boozers, but very often they seem to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

@Bailey: People tend in general to become a bit staider as they grow older, and only a minority would have been in to any cutting-edge musical trend in the first place. To look at today's 65-year-olds, you would never have guessed they would have been 18 in the Summer of Love.

Surely unless you're a specialist music pub one of the key rules of pub music choice is not to offend any of the customers too much.

Paul Bailey said...

Loud, heavy rock, blasting out your speakers when you're cruising down the motorway, yes; but in a pub, definitely Nooooo!!!!!!!

The same goes for any other music, "techno" or otherwise, played at excessive volume. By "excessive", I mean if you have to raise your voice to be heard, then the volume is excessive.

Both my wife and I suffer from not being able to hear properly what's being said in crowded places such as pubs, restaurants and the like. This is probably the result of listening to too much overly loud music in our youth. (I remember coming out after a Led Zeppelin gig with my ears ringing!). This ought to be a lesson to people who like their eardrums blasted and should also serve as a warning to pubs and clubs about the dangers of excessive noise.

We quite rightly have legislation protecting workers from high levels of noise in the workplace. Pubs and bars are places of work and are surely exposing their staff to excessive levels of noise. Punters can vote with their feet and avoid such places; it's a lot harder for bar staff when they need to earn a living to do this.

ps. Is the name Ape and Apple the result of Holt's trying, (and failing!) to be trendy?

Tandleman said...

Paul. I don't know why it is called that. Been open quite a few years now and wasn't remotely trendy.

Phil said...

Loud music in pubs seems to be one of those things people put up with because they think everyone else is enjoying it. I remember being regaled with some loud and aggressive grime, or dubstep, or something along those general lines - pretty contemporary and not daytime radio stuff - in a quiet Robinson's pub one weekday afternoon. The mystery was who had put it on - the staff didn't seem to be enjoying it, but at 52 I was visibly the youngest punter in the place.

Birkonian said...

Well I'm 57 and rather like loud EDM (it probably wasn't Techno, that is a minority taste unless you are of Teutonic stock). As Cookie said, you can always take your custom elsewhere.

Paul Bailey said...

Birkonian - "you can always take your custom elsewhere".

I can, and normally do! I want to talk to people in pubs; have a proper conversation, put the world to right and all that, not come out with my ears ringing and my throat hoarse from having to shout!

Phil, I agree with what you say about loud music in pubs being one of those things people put up with because they think everyone else is enjoying it.

I however, refuse to put up with it nowadays and vote with my feet. 90% of the time the music is playing for the amusement of the bored bar staff, rather than the enjoyment of the punters!

Curmudgeon said...

I also think pubs put it on because they think everyone else is doing it and are frightened that an absence of music will be seen as dull.

Quite a few traditional pubs that were once music-free have introduced it in recent years.

Of course one of the plus points of Sam Smith's pubs is the absence of piped music.

Tandleman said...

Birkonian: Whatever it was it was inappropriate in the sense of both time and place. I won't be back in a hurry.

Tandleman said...

And what Paul said.

Stanley Blenkinshop said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm convinced a public house that offers only BBC Radio Four as its entertainment must exist somewhere.
I remember once thinking I'd died and gone to heaven when I was in a pub in the Lake District and as I supped a pint of English ale the dulcet tones of the Shipping Forecast wafted out across the ancient bar.
North Utsire,South Utsire,Dogger,Tyne,German Bight ... I took a deep draught,closed my eyes and thought of those brave chaps out on the briny bringing home my fish supper.
I'm almost sure it was a pint of Thwaites.
Mind you,even Radio Four has never been the same since I discovered Alice Arnold is a rug-muncher.
When she says " And now it's time for The Archers and there's mystery afoot in Ambridge " I can't help but think of her being spit-roasted by Sandi Toksvig and Claire Balding.
And I bet you won't get that image out of your head for a while.
Wahaay !

Erlangernick said...

That's the Ape and Apple where you and I have enjoyed Mild & Bitter before, right? Tarted up? It is to cry.

AFA music in pubs goes, it's either Soviet sacral minimalism or silence for me.

SA said...

I'm pretty sure John Clarke was complaining about this very issue at OBF on Saturday.

Sue said...

I'm pretty sure John Clarke was complaining about this very issue at OBF on Saturday.

StringersBeer said...

We were pontificating on the subject of acoustics (rather than music) a while ago.

Tyson said...


The Ape & Apple has been going some 17 years. A clue to its unusual name lies in its signage which depicts a monkey sitting on a barrel with an apple in its hand and a pint of beer nearby. It's apparently a pun on evolution; the monkey has eaten the forbidden fruit and discovered beer.

As for the recent changes, Holts have undertaken a review of their estate to try and reverse a steady decline in sales. In the case of the A&A by focussing more on food and introducing guest beers, this has been successful. In fact I wish they'd do the same for my local Holts pubs as they are dead on their feet. However, I'm not sure that the Techno music really helps....

Professor Pie-Tin said...

For the mile that's in it.

Paul Bailey said...

Tyson, I remember from my student days in Greater Manchester (mid 1970's), that most Joey Holt's outlets were real "old man's" pubs. The estate consisted of some real Victorian gems, plus quite a few soulless modern pubs, with about as much life as a funeral parlour. The beer, invariably served by electric pumps, was generally very good though, and cheap, proving you can't always have it all.

tegartegartegar77 said...







GeordieManc said...

Generally the feeling on the Ape & Apple refurb has been that it's been for the good - it was a pub often "busy" with single blokes sitting two feet away from each other, now it's certainly got the hussle and bussle back.
The "guest" beers often include one or two from Bootleg amongst more national blands and that can never be a bad thing.

However, can agree on the music - last time we passed we did just that - passed - because it seemed a bit loud.

But might well be worth giving your feedback to the pub directly - it's only recently got a new manager (about 6 - 8 weeks as I recall) so she's probably still juggling between what she's getting told by different factions about what "people want".

Wouldn't give any credence to what you get from Holt's twitter feed - guess that's run from their marketing dept - if you'd dealt with them you would know not to bother.

Curmudgeon said...

'it was a pub often "busy" with single blokes sitting two feet away from each other'

Sounds like my kind of pub...