Monday, 17 October 2011

The Mad Ferret, Fylde Road, Preston

I have never been interested in these Warcraft type games where people spend hours painting little funny shaped figures with mystical powers, in preparation for imaginary wars. I just didn’t get it.
But on the other hand, if they were to swap fat goblins for pubs, then I would be right on it.
Each city or town entering ‘Pub Craft’ would put forward four or five venues with particular strengths, assets or features, to do battle with the best offerings from other areas.
The winner would, of course, rule the world and all the beer in it.
Now, you may well scoff at the idea, ‘It’s ridiculous’ I hear you say, ‘We’ve not got the numbers to rival our more illustrious North West neighbours, let alone the world.
‘But wait a minute’, I reply, ‘Pub Craft is not about sheer volume of run-of-the-mill boozers, it is a battle of the very finest pubs with specific specialist powers.
And I think Preston would boast Pub Craft elite fighting force to rival any.
For sport and real ale you have the Old Black Bull on Friargate.
The Black Horse, also on Friargate, would give most pubs a run for tradition and atmosphere.
The Continental, on South Meadow Lane, has got the culture category wrapped up  and The Saddle Inn, in Lea, has more outdoor attractions than a theme park.
But, in the all important live music category, The Mad Ferret, on Fylde Road could face any similar venue without shame or fear.
Many places will stick on a live band to bash out a few covers on a Friday night to sell a few more pints, but here is a pub whose owner clearly has a real passion for live music.
Throughout the week, every week, music fans pack the pub to hear live bands playing original material.
From rookie musicians having their first taste of live performance at the open mic night, to popular signed acts or more obscure experimental music, it is all covered in a week’s line-up.
One of things which has surprised me since I have been going is how much of it is free.
There have been numerous occasions I have walked home after seeing three really good acts thinking I would have been happy to pay to go in.
Then again, I think I probably just had a couple of extra pints to compensate.
Set across from the students’ union The Mad Ferret is inevitably a big draw for many students but it should not put off music fans of any age.
Preston’s nightlife may fall short in volume and variety but with our elite battalion of Pub Craft World Champions marauding ever onwards, we can take comfort in the knowledge that quality is better than quantity.

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