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The man behind the running of one of Swansea’s most historic buildings has described his ambition to make it a big part of Swansea’s live music revival.
The grade II listed Patti Pavilion has been based at Victoria Park since 1920, after it was donated to the people of Swansea two years earlier by world famous opera singer Adelina Patti, who had originally used it as a winter garden observatory at her home in the upper Swansea Valley. In the decades that followed, the building went from strength to strength, and was widely for rock concerts, festivals, cultural events and a variety of other uses.
But over the years, it fell into disrepair, and in 2006 became further badly damaged by an arson attack. It was sympathetically redeveloped in the years that followed, and became used primarily as a restaurant.
For the most part, its reputation for putting on live music was a thing of the past. That was until cousins Hanif and Foyaz Miah decided to step forward. The pair, who grew up in the area and had sentimental appreciation for the building, decided to take out a small business loan and put every penny of their life savings into the Patti Pavilion. In 2019, they relaunched the venue for both weddings and music events, and transformed the place with a view of reclaiming its music past.
Hanif said: “The Patti was always a great music venue. People used to come here to dance and hundreds of people have said they met their husbands here. It was a big, big dance area. It was also a place where some big bands would come to perform. It became a restaurant for many years, and that is where its focus was, When I took it over I wanted to put Patti back on the map as a music venue. It will be multi-functional for wedding parties and all other genres of events too.
“We took over the building in 2019 and we did a lot here. We got a new stage, lights, soundproof curtains and equipment to do live shows. For the last 12 years locals did not hear a single peep out of the building but then we started putting on some music events again like Jeff Tate, and local rock bands.”
The venue had already staged a number of gigs, and the cousins were well on their way to reestablishing the 1,000 capacity venue as a go-to place for live music in the city. But then the coronavirus lockdown began.
Mr Miah said: “It was an absolute catastrophe. Me and my cousin both used to work for HMRC and we quit our jobs and went into this full time. Three to four months of trading was all kept for investment for the year to come. We had some really exciting stuff coming up, we were going to be bringing Stone Cold Steve Austin to Swansea. The pandemic brought so much uncertainty as a business – we asked ourselves, how are we going to keep the business open? We did not expect it to go on as long as it has.
“It almost crippled us to an extent, but thankfully we are over the hump of it now.”
The cousins, who are also behind the running of Adelina’s restaurant, hope to become a key part in the renaissance of the live music scene in Swansea, with the city’s brand new 3,500 capacity arena soon to open, whilst the Albert Hall will also soon be transformed, with The Depot set to be one of its first tenants.
They will all join the likes of Swansea’s Grand Theatre, Brangwyn Hall, Sin City, Hangar 18, The Bunkhouse, and The Vault which already stage live music performances.
Newton Faulkner is scheduled to perform at the Patti Pavilion in October, and Martin Kemp, of Spandau Ballet fame, is set to be there in November.
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Hanif said: “It’s about letting people know that Patti Pavilion is back as a music venue – it’s almost like it has been a place that was forgotten. My cousin and I are Swansea born and bred, we literally grew up in this park, it is our local park – my auntie got married here. It has always been a place quite dear with us. It was a heart over head situation when we took it over.
“There were many acoustic difficulties, it is probably the highest ceiling in Swansea, but we took it in our stride.
“For us to be part of the music revival in Swansea is a massive thing for me, personally. The Swansea music scene has almost died for the last 10 years.
“It was not even a music scene, and if you wanted to see shows you have to travel to Cardiff or Bristol. Swansea has just been forgotten. It has always been known as a multicultural city where you can enjoy amazing music, culture, and food, and it’s important that is coming back to Swansea.
“As a resident of Swansea it’s great, I can’t wait to see the future both as a resident and from a business standpoint. I think what is happening is amazing. I want live music in Swansea as a whole, not just my venue.
“I have all the faith in the world that things will get back to normal after lockdown. I truly believe in my heart that the Pavilion is a premier music venue in Swansea.”