FAMED Southampton live music institution The Brook has gone bust and will close unless a buyer can be found quickly.

The site in Portswood not far from the University campus has seen music legends such as Bill Wyman and John Martyn perform but today it is home only to the liquidators.

Its unexpected collapse left question marks over two gigs this weekend but Antony Fanshawe of insolvency firm Fanshawe Lofts said he was hopeful today's The ELO Experience and Saturday's performance from Canadian guitarist, Jeff Healey would go ahead.

Despite some big names, a high profile and an "enormous number" of customers, The Brook has not been able to keep its financial head above water, he said.

It's a major blow to Southampton's burgeoning music scene, which looks likely to lose a venue which has attracted tens of thousands of people to the city.

The Brook was also a stepping stone for fledgling bands. It gave them a valued opportunity to perform.

Mike Spall, of Southampton music bible website Southscene.net, said: "The Brook is a fantastic venue. It is always open to new bands as well as the old guard and popular, quality tribute acts.

"It would be an absolute travesty if the place were forced to close."

Earlier this month the Daily Echo reported the Portswood Road venue's building had been put on the market for £900,000 by well known city construction magnate Patrick Trant.

At the time Bryn Lewis, who is joint owner with Richard Davey, said they were unaffected by the sale, claiming it was "business as usual."

But now, unless a buyer can be found, this weekend's events will be The Brook's last.

Since opening 13 years ago, the venue has staged more than 3,500 gigs and recently hit the headlines when martial arts film star Stephen Seagal bought his band Thunderbox to play to a packed house. Mr Fanshawe said: "The Brook is a high profile music venue which attracts an enormous number of visitors each year.

"It has become a local institution and, as such, it is our belief that we can secure a buyer to purchase the business as a going concern and take it forward for the local community.

"We are actively pursuing this objective at the moment.

"The Brook management are clearly devastated at finding themselves in this position and are extremely concerned about letting people down. As such, they are cooperating fully with our liquidation team and jointly we hope we can reach a positive conclusion."

People with tickets for The ELO Experience and Jeff Healey should assume the events are going ahead. Administrators said further announcements will be posted on The Brook website at www.the-brook.com, and on the box office answerphone facility on 023 8055 5366.

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