The Empire strikes back! O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire has reopened for business following a six-month intensive structural repair project.
The hugely popular music venue closed suddenly in December 2015 after a soundcheck by indie band The Courteeners. There was speculation that the Grade II-listed roof had fallen in and that indie rock had caused structural problems. An open letter from the venue this week put those theories to rest, writing, 'contrary to reports, nothing collapsed, nothing fell in, nothing fell down or otherwise! During a routine inspection we discovered that an isolated section of our roof was in need of attention and it was a wise decision taken by our Board back in December 2015 to start work straight away.'
The plan had been to reopen within weeks but the scale of the operation required a painstaking process of levering, counter-levering and that sort of thing as structural engineers fought to preserve the original Frank Matcham designs from 1903. The open letter thanks artists, promoters and customers for their patience as the repair works overran initial projections.
A bonus of this extended closure has been the chance to give the whole building a once over, including the PA system. Technicians conducted thorough sound surveys to refocus speakers and sound levels in the auditorium and balcony. They have also packed in some serious spring cleaning, repainting the bars, stripping and staining the auditorium floor, deep-cleaning the beautiful interior, rejuvenating the ventilation system and have even uncovered some of the original BBC signs from its period as a TV studio.
And there's good news for any regular gig-goer familiar with the Bush toilets: 'WC facilities take the hit of hundreds of thousands of customers year on year so all toilets have been improved throughout.'
Go – bask under the solid roof, lick the clean floors (or not) and revel in the superior sound quality.