London's Marquee Goes Live

London's Marquee Club was relaunched as a live music venue last night with a private party featuring performances by Australian alternative rock band the Basics and local indie act Marner Brown.

The central London venue will host an official opening party tonight, with Universal Music's signings Hogg and Black Hand taking the stage.

As previously reported, Northern Irish entrepreneur Nathan Lowry bought the famous Marquee brand from Eurythmics' Dave Stewart and London club-owner Mark Fuller, and established the new venue at 14 Upper Saint Martin's Lane.

The split-level club is the sixth incarnation of the Marquee since it first opened its doors in 1958.

The Marquee first opened in the basement of 165 Oxford Street, central London's best-known shopping street, as a jazz-and later, rhythm & blues-venue in April 1958. It was a key center in the development of the British R&B scene of the early 1960s, based around the live performances by Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies and their respective bands which produced The Rolling Stones. The Stones first played the Marquee in January 1963.

The club moved a few hundred yards to its best-known location at 90 Wardour Street, Soho in 1964, where it became the setting for now-famous performances by such names from the emerging rock scene as The Who, Jimi Hendrix, the Yardbirds, Cream and Pink Floyd. Virtually every major U.K. rock name to emerge in the 1960s and 1970s trod the Marquee's boards at some point.

The Marquee was also a leading venue during the U.K.'s punk rock explosion of 1976/1977, when the Sex Pistols, Generation X, the Damned, Adam & the Ants and XTC all played there. Over the next few years, the venue put on shows by post-punk acts such as U2, Simple Minds and the Cure, but the Marquee always had a core-hard rock audience and the emergence of names such as Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Motorhead pointed the way towards its re-invention as a hard rock/metal venue in the late 1980s.

Marquee owner/co-founder Harold Pendleton exited the club in 1987 and new owner Billy Gaff moved it to premises nearby Charing Cross Road in 1988. However, it was not a great success and closed in 1992. Ten years later, the rights to the name were acquired by Stewart and Fuller, who opened a new Marquee Club in Islington, north London in September 2002 with a show by Primal Scream. However, the club closed four months later. The site is now the Carling Academy Islington, run by venue operator Academy Music Group.

Lowry subsequently bought the brand from Fuller and Dave Stewart, and opened the fifth version of the club in Leicester Square -- within 15 minutes walk of its original Oxford Street location -- in September 2004. After a failed attempt to obtain a late-night (3am) license in July 2005, the venue closed that December.