Apollo? Odeon? Now apparently the Eventim Apollo. Dreadful name. Great, historic venue. I first came here back in the ’80’s. I’ve seen Dylan here more times than I can recall, Ry Cooder with a stunning band which included Jim Keltner, Tim Drummond and John Hiatt, Paul Simon with Steve Gadd, Eric Gale and Richard Tee, John Martyn, Mark Knopfler…
One of the UK’s largest and best-preserved original theatres it opened in 1932 as the Gaumont Palace cinema. Designed in the Art Deco style the venue had 3,487 seats, a large 35 foot deep stage, an excellent fan shaped auditorium which, despite its enormous 192 feet width allowed remarkable intimacy and excellent sightlines from all parts of the house, twenty dressing rooms, a theatre organ and a café/restaurant located on the balcony/foyer area.
Renamed Hammersmith Odeon in 1962 the venue started playing host to many legendary acts including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Marley. It was refurbished in the ’80’s, renamed the Labatt’s Apollo for a while, then Hammersmith Apollo shortly after.
2003 saw the venue renamed once again, as the Carling Apollo Hammersmith. Major alterations enabled the stalls to be removable, allowing for both standing and fully-seated events. Capacity became 5,039 standing and 3,632 sitting. In recent years, performers have included Oasis, REM, Stereophonics , Kylie, Elton John, Peter Kay and Paul Weller to name but a few.
In 2006, the venue reverted to its former name, the Hammersmith Apollo and, in 2009, as a result of a joint venture with HMV, became known as the HMV Hammersmith Apollo.
The legendary music venue has now changed hands once again as AEG and Eventim have teamed up to recreate it's iconic Art Deco design. Following multi-million pound investment and a huge visual transformation the refurbished venue is now called Eventim Apollo.
Highlights of the refurbishment include fixtures and fittings returned to original designs, restoration of the ornate plasterwork and re-decoration which matches the original paint scheme. The refurbishment also revives the two marble staircases previously concealed beneath the extended stage, as well as restoration of the original foyer floor mosaic panels, whilst in the circle the original windows are revealed allowing natural light to once again flood the circle bar…
Leaning out of the back window of our dressing room, looking down at the stage door, I can’t help but marvel at how those first few guitar lessons in Chiswick have led to this. I never dreamed (well, maybe once or twice) that I would perform on this historic stage and walk the backstage corridors frequented by some of the greatest songwriters and performers of the past. It’s truly an honour to be here and a fitting end to a tour that began in Rhyl in a hurricane and ended up here on a beautiful spring evening. As the sun sinks in the west we wind our way down to the stage… Hello Hammersmith…