Opinion: 12 greatest gigs at 53 Degrees

Posted on - 9th June, 2014 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Music, Opinion, Preston City Centre, University campus, What's On in Preston
Lancashire Police triggered a review into how 53 Degrees operated

The lights go out at 53 Degrees after Christmas

Preston is in mourning following the news that 53 Degrees will close its doors to the public after Christmas.


Word broke on Friday night confirming rumours the venue was struggling.

Despite the bad news, 53 Degrees has hosted some fantastic artists over the years, leaving a whole host of memories for music fans in Preston.

We take a look at the best gigs the venue has ever hosted.

If you think we’ve missed one, let us know in the comments section.

1. The Courteeners, January 2008
Before Liam Fray & co started selling out the Manchester Arena every year, they opened their first ever UK headline tour at Club 53. It was a triumphant set – replicating what Arctic Monkeys had achieved a few years earlier in that the audience screamed back the words despite only Cavorting and Acrylic being released at the time. They’d soon return to the main room, but this intimate gig felt like a legitimate “I was there” night.

2. Enter Shikari, August 2010
This gig had everything. Mosh pits, new singles, acoustic moments and a huge sense of smugness that this show replaced a cancelled at the last minute show in Blackpool. Highlights were the communal Gap in the Fence and the inevitable clap-along to breakthrough single Sorry You’re Not A Winner, which closed out the evening.

3. Dirty Pretty Things, October 2008
Dirty Pretty Things were far too short-lived. Shortly before this tour began with a semi-secret gig in Preston, the Carl Barat fronted band decided they would be calling it a day when it finished. Cue the inevitable rumours Barat would reform Libertines with Peter Doherty. Still, this night was a celebration with most of DPT spending some time in the crowd during the gig and the band treated like the heroes they are. Barat and Powell (drums, also part of Libertines) then shared beers with fans after the gig.

DLS v Pip

4. Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, April 2014
This wasn’t the first time that the duo visited 53 Degrees but it was comfortably the best. New tracks Stunner and You Will See Me almost managed to overshadow the more classic tracks like Thou Shalt Always Kill and Letter From God To Man. To cap things off nicely, Dan Le Sac told fans after the gig to go and urinate on Ships and Giggles.

5. Kasabian, March 2009
Arguably the biggest act to ever play the venue, Kasabian predictably sold out in a matter of hours. This year’s Glastonbury headliners used this warm-up show to debut material from their third album West Pauper Lunatic Asylum, as well as their standard hits such as Empire, Club Foot and L.S.F. They would soon move onto arenas but none of those shows matched the intimate intensity of this special evening.

The Subways

6. The Subways, May 2008
Their second time playing 53 Degrees – this time in a sold out main room – Billy Lunn and co. returned with a new album and a new level of confidence to go with their consistent level of energy. A huge version of Rock n Roll Queen and newer song Girls And Boys meant that one of the best live bands around had one of their best gigs.


 7. Peace, April 2013
At the time (and still, really) Peace were one of the most exciting new bands in the country. Their sets on this tour only helped to solidify that reputation. After heading out to The Warehouse on their last visit to Preston, Peace decided to visit Roper Hall after this gig.

johnny marr

8. Johnny Marr, March 2013
Yet another example of a show that sold out quickly, the former Smiths guitarist played a set that borrowed heavily from his album The Messenger but also included hits from both Electronic and The Smiths. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out was a no-brainer as set closer, and though Marr’s vocals can’t quite match the original, it was still an incredible moment.

9. Does It Offend You, Yeah?, March 2011
Utterly selfish choice, this one. There may have been about 30 people in the Club room to see this show. The band took it in their stride and so did the crowd, so what followed was an immensely private show where the crowd took it upon themselves to try and make the show special for the band and vice versa. Somehow, both parties pulled it off.

Frank Turner

10. Frank Turner, December 2010
Frank Turner is the yet another act to have played at 53 Degrees and go on to become an arena slayer. Even then, he had a dedicated fan base that could probably be described as a cult following. That has blossomed somewhat over the past few years, but in 2010, a lot of people would still have been asking “Frank who?” while he closed with Photosynthesis with every word screamed back by an adoring audience.

11. We Are Scientists, June 2008
Sometimes bands develop a relationship with a city that is hard to explain. That’s the case with We Are Scientists, who have always had a special bond with the city of Preston. This gig came at the peak of their considerable powers and featured the brilliant After Hours early in the set before a chaotic rendition of Great Escape closed the night.

12. Biffy Clyro, February 2008
If there was one gig at 53 Degrees that I wish I had been at, it’s this one. A setlist that included fantastic new material like Machines as well as older classics such as Justboy and 57; looking back on this is genuinely one of my biggest regrets. It was summed up best by my friend, who reminds me regularly that I missed this, who said: “It was boss and I hope you feel bad forever for not going”. I probably will.

Have a look at some classic shots from 53 Degrees here.

All photos courtesy of 53 Degrees

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