THE Victorian building which houses one of Brighton’s most loved venues has a varied history.

The Concorde 2 nightclub in Madeira Drive went from being a tea room in the 1800s to a notorious bikers’ cafe in the 1960s, before being turned into an amusement arcade in the 1970s.

After the explosion of rave culture the Concorde club became home to Fatboy Slim’s Big Beat Boutique nights in the 1990s, and on New Year’s Eve 1999 the Brighton-based DJ performed at the opening night for Concorde 2.

Now the 600-capacity venue is celebrating its twentieth anniversary with a year of exciting performances, and music fans can sign up to a special mailing list for exclusive ticket pre-sales.

Christina Haynes has been running the club for the past 20 years, and co-owner Russell Haynes joined her in 2007.

Russell said: “We have been running Concorde 2 together for 13 years now but Tina has been involved since its opening.

“If you watch Fatboy Slim’s Build It Up, Tear It Down video from 1998 you can spot her in the opening scenes, working in the box office at the original Concorde.”

Russell said he and Tina have some great memories from shows at the club, including the Foo Fighters’ performance in 2008, when Dave Grohl described Concorde 2 as “the perfect venue” on stage.

Russell said: “There have been so many amazing moments here it’s difficult to mention them all, but obviously there have been some very special shows – the Foo Fighters in 2008 and Amy Winehouse in 2006 are definite highlights.

“We’ve also had a lot of artists take the crowd outside on to the beach halfway through a show, which is always entertaining.”

Russell said the venue’s position on the seafront, a mile outside of the city centre, has been both a blessing and a curse.

He said: “We always see an audience who are here for the right reason, which is to enjoy good music, so we rarely have any trouble at all.

“On the flip side, since the closure of the Madeira terraces we are effectively operating a business out of a car park, which is a real struggle day to day.”

Russell said Concorde 2 cannot rely on daytime passing trade like other city centre venues, and operation costs continue to rise.

He said: “We rely solely upon the talent and booking powers of our promoters and local, national and international acts wanting to come and perform here.

“It’s concerning that because of Brexit, the cost of touring will rise for international acts visiting the UK to perform, as many of them are on a shoestring budget.”

Despite the closure of many venues in the city, Russell believes there will always be an appetite for live music in an intimate setting, and said artists always love returning to Concorde 2.

He said: “It’s really sad to see venues closing anywhere – not just in Brighton but all around the UK. The fewer venues there are, the fewer options are available to artists for touring, which affects everyone. We are in this together. But footfall through Concorde 2 continues to be steady and I think that’s a testament to the artists who continue to tour and connect with audiences here.

“When bands come back they know the staff they’ll be working with and we welcome them in like it’s their home.”

Distinctive stain-glassed windows still adorn the length of the building, which contains original wood flooring and the Victorian Madeira Terrace lift, and Russell said the architecture is part of what makes it a special place for audiences.

He said: “It’s a beautiful building with good facilities, and we create a relaxed but professional atmosphere for our artists.

“We like to think this stands us in good stead nationally and is one of the reasons we have been open for so long.”

2020 is set to be an exciting year for the venue, with a string of 20th anniversary shows to be announced throughout the year.

As for the next two decades, Russell said: “Ultimately we’d like to see our side of the city regenerated and Madeira Terraces re-opened so people are encouraged to visit.

“We hope touring after Brexit becomes more financially viable for international acts and that grassroots music venues are seen as being as culturally important as the arts venues which currently receive substantial subsidies and funding from government organisations.

“Not too much to ask, right? We’ll see where we are at the end of the next 20 years.”