THE live music scene in Southampton is as strong as it's ever been.

Venue operators, promoters and music lovers have come together to back the City of Culture bid. 

Judges deciding on what place should be awarded the title visited Southampton today.

Spandau Ballet favourite Martin Kemp is DJing at The Brook, indie-rock sensations The Sherlocks play Engine Rooms and The Joiners hosts the festival force that is six-strong collective Bare Jams.

And that's without mentioning opera at Mayflower Theatre and a music festival in Mayflower Park.

Ricky Bates from iconic venue The Joiners, which championed Oasis, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran in their early days, is now spoilt for choice of venues when booking touring acts for the city.

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He told the Daily Echo: "We now have possibly nine or ten venues of varying sizes which are all industry standard in terms of sound systems for touring bands.

"The music scene here is very much alive and kicking compared to say Portsmouth or Bournemouth. We're punching above our weight and are arguably now bigger in terms of touring music than either of those cities.

Nick Lewis runs another Southampton institution The Brook, which has recently hosted the likes of Bastille and Years & Years as part of events for record store Vinilo. 

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He added: "Southampton is really starting to knock on the doors of some of the biggest cities.

"The Vinilo outstores have put us on the map, but it's fast becoming an A-list city all round. I would say the Southampton music scene is strong and we're really coming up in the ranks.

Derek and Lorraine Gardener are in their second stint of running legendary 'spit and sawdust' pub The Frog & Frigate, which boasts live music every weekend. 

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Lorraine said: "It's so much more than a terminal for cruise ships and a premier league football club.

"This is a hard-working port city which has had its struggles, but the people here love their music.

"Live music in Southampton is very strong compared to other cities. It has so much to offer. The scene is strong and there's a lot going on. Southampton is so deserving of this crown."

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