From a public convenience to one of the South East’s most revered music venues

The Forum celebrates 30 years of live music


THE iconic music venue, The Forum is celebrating 30 years of bringing live music to Tunbridge wells this weekend.

Originally a public toilet, sitting on the edge of The Commons, the conversion to a music venue was the brainchild of musician and promoter Jason Dorman, along with friends Michael Oyarzabal, Peter Hoare and Mark Davyd.

The first act, Joeyfat, took to the stage on January 15 1993, with Jason Dorman playing bass. Since then, the former public convenience has become one of the most respected small music venues in the country.

Jason Dorman, who was awarded a Civic Medal by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in 2019 for his work at The Forum over the years, remembers the early days of the venue and how the music business has changed.

He told the Times: “When we first started, vinyl was in, then it was CDs and downloads and now it’s streaming, but the one thing that has stayed the same all these years is the live music element.

“The way people purchase music has changed but the way we engage with it hasn’t and I don’t think that format will ever change.

“You cannot beat that shared, visceral experience of seeing live music in an intimate venue.”

As well as supporting well-known local artists, The Forum has hosted a raft of big-name acts over the years as they started out in their music careers, including Adele, Oasis, Muse and Coldplay.

Now, 30 years on, the 250-capacity venue is still going strong and continuing to win accolades.

In 2012, influential music magazine NME voted it Britain’s Best Small Venue.

As part of its 30-year anniversary celebrations, The Forum has a host of celebratory gigs taking over the next 12 months.

“There’s so much to celebrate, so rather than focusing on a particular week or month, we are turning next year into one long almighty celebration of The Forum,” said Jason.

“We will be bringing what we believe will be the strongest and most varied line-up the venue has ever seen.”

Included in the programme will be Jason’s own teenage sons, who will set foot on the very same stage as their father did 30 years earlier.

Also coming up in the anniversary year will be renowned singer-songwriter Frank Turner who is taking a day out of his Sleeping Souls tour in January.

Other acts confirmed for 2023 are Goldie Looking Chain, Toploader, Dub Pistols, Dreadzone, The Skatonics and The Beat.

Alongside these established names, The Forum will be hosting loads of exciting new acts, such as Welsh indie punk band Panic Attack, who are frequently on BBC Radio 6 Music and have just toured with Yard Act.

The annual festival Unfest, the Tunbridge Wells Literary Festival and Local & Live will also be hosted at the music venue in 2023.

Molly Hatchet is also coming to play a show in the summer, alongside rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top and The Allman Brothers band.

For more information on The Forum’s packed line-up for their 30th anniversary year, visit:

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