A legendary Chester music venue is set to make a welcome return to the city more than 40 years after closing its doors for good. Staff at Rosies nightclub, which occupies the same building on Northgate Street, have announced that they are bringing back the Quaintways name and vibe, beginning next month.
The middle floor of the popular club is being transformed into a new 500 capacity live music venue for Chester. The Rosies team say they are hoping to channel the vibe of the legendary Quaintways venue, which was in the same building back in the 1960s and 1970s.
Back in the day, numerous big names played at this popular venue, run by entrepreneur Gordon Vickers, as part of the UK tour circuit. Rosies manager Chris Cunliffe said that amongst the famous names to have graced the Quaintways ballroom were Ben E King and Fleetwood Mac in 1969, with an earlier Fleetwood Mac line-up to the one we know today, featuring Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, John McVie, Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer. Thin Lizzy played on numerous occasions in 1971, 1972 and 1973.
Status Quo and Slade played there in 1971, with Judas Priest also popping in for a gig. The Sex Pistols must have raised a few eyebrows when they brought their inimitable brand of high energy punk music to the city in 1976.
Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant is also believed to have played there with his pre-Led Zeppelin band, Band of Joy. And Dire Straits played one of the last ever Quaintways gigs in 1978. They even recorded a live album at the venue on April 19, 1978, which is still available to listen to on YouTube.
Chester just missed out on a visit from rock royalty Cream featuring legendary musicians Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker who were due to appear in 1966 but had to pull out due to illness.
Rosies manager Chris Cunliffe told Cheshire Live that they were really excited to be bringing the Quaintways name and live music venue back to the city. The club was so popular that a reunion even took place in September 2016with revellers keen to relive the heady days of the 1960s and 1970s in the city.
He said: “The world has changed after lockdown and people are looking for different things to do. The club is as busy as ever but we are looking to cater for a slightly older crowd who might not want to come to Rosies as a nightclub.
“I had a vague idea that Quaintways was a bit of a thing when it came to live music so we did a bit of digging. It kind of went from us thinking ‘this sounds like a good idea’ to ‘this sounds like a great idea’.
“The level and quality of the bands that played there is incredible. We were sitting in the office and looking at each other one day and thinking that we definitely had to do this.
“Gordon Vickers ran the venue on a Monday night initially and it quickly became much bigger. One of the first bands due to play there was Cream but unfortunately that was cancelled due to Ginger Baker coming down with a throat infection.”
Chris added: “Our deputy manager Becca put a post up about our idea on a Chester live music group on Facebook and the response was ridiculous. People were saying ‘I used to go to Quaintways’. A photographer who used to take pictures at Quaintways also got in touch.”
Chris explained a funny coincidence that happened when he visited a music shop on Brook Street too, saying: “We were talking about Quaintways and how the Sex Pistols had played there and my friend said ‘no way’. A guy in the shop piped up ‘yes they were’ and it turned out he had been at the gig.
“The providence is there for live music to be in the centre of Chester and we thought that we’ve got to do this. It’s a really exciting time for everybody.
“We have built a stage on the middle floor where the ballroom was and where the live music was in the past and we have a sound system and lighting.
“We are also bringing in some sound guys from Manchester. We are not going to be focusing on any particular genre. We aim to put on whatever music people want to see and hear. We’ve already had about 10 bands say they would like to come and play here.”
The first Quaintways night, featuring the Quaintways logo too, will take place at Rosies on July 22, with local band Screaming Devil Pleasure Beach headlining. The club is also launching a fortnightly indie night on a Thursday, starting July 28, along with an alternating fortnightly open mic night the following week.
The indie night is called Don’t Worry Be Indie. Robin Woodward from Don’t Worry Be Indie said: “Mike and I could not be more excited to bring Don’t Worry be indie to Quaintways at Rosies. The whole concept for this night is based on our love for the genre and we cannot wait to introduce some of the best bands from around the UK, and our unique indie disco to Chester.”