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Many of the music venues in Melbourne have gained a legendary reputation within the music industry. Cherry Bar is often called “the best rock n’ roll bar in the world,” and when the future of the Palais Theatre was in jeopardy, The Rolling Stones publicly voiced their support. Judy Garland’s disastrous one and only Melbourne show took place at Festival Hall, Madonna recently gave a bizarre performance at the Forum which didn’t finish until 3:00 a.m., and once upon a time, The Espy was the sight of Melbourne’s very own Saturday Night Fever.
On the corner of Flinders and Russell Street is the Forum Theatre. Originally known as the State Theatre, it opened in February 1929 and was the largest cinema in Australia, with a seating capacity of 3,371 people. The first films screened were silent films The Fleets In and The Cameraman, and the first talkie shown was The Doctor’s Secret. In the early 1960s, the venue was divided into two cinemas — the Forum, which opened in 1962, and the Rapallo, which opened the following year. Further renovations took place in 1981. Forum I is located on the ground floor, with a standing capacity of 1,500, and Forum II can seat 520 people. Madonna gave an exclusive fan show at the venue in 2016, but didn’t get on stage until 1am. Asides from concerts, the Forum also hosts the Melbourne International Comedy Theatre.
Flinders St & Russel St, Melbourne VIC +61 03 9299 9860
The Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda opened in 1878 and quickly established itself as a prominent Melbourne hotel, with famous guests like Mark Twain. Between 1920 and 1925, the Eastern Tent Ballroom became a jazz venue, and in the 1970s, the Gershwin Room was transformed into a disco, complete with a Saturday Night Fever style dance floor. Nowadays, The Espy supports emerging rock acts, and entry is free except for at a larger gigs. The venue has become a St Kilda icon, with legions of fans. Since 2005 the music trivia show RocKwiz has filmed at the venue, and it has recently undergone renovations.
11 The Esplanade St, Kilda VIC +61 03 9534 0211