Watford has reacted to the “gutting” news that The Horns has closed — amid fears for the live music scene.

Hundreds shared memories of good times and fears for the future after confirmation it had closed for the last time on Saturday night (October 21).

Jane Giles and the team thanked bands, friends, and customers for their support through repeated attempts to keep the venue afloat.

“We’ve tried our hardest to get us through this, but sadly we can’t,” they added.

Watford Observer: Horns house band in 2009 (Denis Cook in the white shirt) Horns house band in 2009 (Denis Cook in the white shirt) (Image: Denis Cook)

Saying goodbye, there were musicians who referred to it as their “spiritual home”, on social media, and many shared their hope that “it won’t be the last we hear of The Horns”. Meanwhile, members of the public remembered having their first pint there and hearing great gigs.

Former The Horns sound engineer Adrian McAuley said “there was nothing else like it” and highlighted its importance to the local music scene, often as a start for bands trying to make it on the circuit.

Denis Cook, who managed the pub from 2001 to 2009, told the Watford Observer that running a pub in a building owned by a pub company, as is the case for The Horns, is “no longer viable” as owners cannot remain competitive with brands like Wetherspoon.

“Add the cost of putting on music and ancillary costs makes it difficult, if not impossible,” he added, “hence the number of music pubs closing.”

Watford MP Dean Russell said he was “really saddened” by the news.

“The pub and the hard-working team have been such an important part of our town,” he said. “It is going to be sorely missed by both visitors and bands.”

Watford Observer: The HornsThe Horns (Image: Stephen Danzig)Watford mayor Peter Taylor agreed the closure was “sad to see”. He added: “The venue played an important role in nurturing local talent, providing them a stage to craft their acts and share their music.”

He highlighted the ways the council has “made every effort possible to support this venue throughout the challenging times”, including through Covid-19 relief and grant funding.

The mayor also called for a national strategy to support venues and protect the British music industry.

Watford Observer: The HornsThe Horns (Image: Watford Observer Camera Club/Vlad Dan)