Top promoter: “Aylesbury is the perfect place for live music scene”

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The man behind some of the UK’s biggest concerts says that Aylesbury is the perfect place to become a live music hub.

Paul Hutton, founder of Crosstown Concerts, has staged stadium shows including Robbie Williams at Knebworth, as well as first time outings from the likes of The White Stripes and The Pixies.

He grew up in Aylesbury and attended Aylesbury Grammar School cutting his teeth musically by attending punk shows at the Friars Club.

He said: “Friars was still going strong around that time but you had to be 16 to get in.

“But because Robin (Pike Friars founder) was our teacher and he used to do the door he let us go in, we got to see some really great bands of the punk era like The Jam, The Clash and Ian Drury.”

At that time Aylesbury really was a music hub, music journalist Kris Needs ran national magazine Zig Zag from the town, which even contained a section on what was most played on the jukebox in The Green Man pub.

Paul added: “CBS records had a pressing plant in Aylesbury and lots of the guys got Saturday or holiday jobs there too, It was all about music, I don’t know what the kids who weren’t into music did with their time, probably hang around on street corners.”

After that Grammar School alumni Paul attended Goldsmiths College in London, where he was voted in as social secretary.

This was in the early 80s, and in his role he masterminded gigs for the likes of The Blue Bells and Lloyd Cole and The Emotions.

He said: “Sadly I did turn down The Smiths, but these things do happen.

“They would probably have been really miserable and no one would have liked them!

“I probably put on something a lot more jaunty instead.”

After university he became a music industry agent for acts including Clint Eastwood & General Saint, but decided that was not the career for him.

In a role at London’s ULU which lasted for three years, Paul really found his feet as a promoter, putting on the likes of Sonic Youth, Pop Will Eat Itself, Jesus Jones and Blur.

After that he went to work for Metropolis, a one man operation ‘which then became a two man operation’ starting out in a living room.

The business grew and grew and soon the firm was staging events at football stadiums and arenas, as well as smaller more intimate shows for future big names.

He said: “Our biggest gig was three nights of Robbie Williams at Knebworth, but I liked to do more unusual stuff like Pixies and Nick Cave.

“One of the best shows was The White Stripes at the 100 Club in 2001, no one had ever heard of them. Sometimes the best gigs aren’t the biggest.”

After 28 years at Metropolis Paul left to set up his own firm Crosstown Concerts, which is going from strength to strength since its inception in February.

And the seasoned promoter believes that with the right outlook and infrastructure, Aylesbury could be the perfect place for bands to play.

He said: “It happened before and there is no reason it shouldn’t happen again.

“Aylesbury is sufficiently far away from the Midlands, London and Bristol not to affect what is going on there, and there are not a lot of places like that.

“Aylesbury needs a structure of venues from 200 to 1,000 capacity and then the Waterside to get a local scene going. It’s not as easy as it used to be, but with the right outlook it could be done.”