“Camden has always been vibrant”, his eyes light up. “I think it’s very special.” He says the pandemic brought home the importance of music to the area: “when the airplanes stopped flying and we only had the locals to look at, people asked what Camden was famous for, what made it unique.” The answer, according to Vince? “Fashion you don’t get anywhere else and music. It’s a place with a certain amount of freedom. It’s where you can be a lunatic and be normal,” he chuckles.
Vince has also found that venues are reaching out to each other more after the shock of the 16-month lockdown. “We realised we’ve got nothing really now,” he says of the time. “This is a big, big enemy. It’s a perfect war that cleaned everything away apart from the buildings. I think we’re all looking around us, at what’s closer to us, because that’s all we’ve got in the end. It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got, the virus doesn’t discriminate. Hopefully it’s made us more of a community, if there is any good to come out of it.”
I ask Vince why he renamed the venue PowerHaus. “I did a deal with the Market and didn’t even bother asking if the name was included in the whole place. I found out after buying it that I didn’t own the name Dingwalls. So, I called it PowerHaus because the Powerhouse was so good in Islington. It’s always a good name when the venue is successful. If the venue’s a shithouse they don’t say the name is shit, they say the place is shit.”
From Eminem to The Pogues, Vince has put on some of the biggest names in the music industry over the last 50 years. “Any chance I’ve ever had I’ve put on Bob Dylan at festivals and venues. When I’m left to my own devices, I would probably go back to Hank Williams. I go back to the 40s when music was pretty clear, you could just hear the guitar and the saxophone.” Is there a concert he wishes he’d put on? “Elvis. He’s still relevant. His love songs are the same as today’s, really.”
With more than his fair share of success and losses, I ask him what he’s learnt from the ups and downs. “I wish I could learn quicker to be honest with you! The minute I’m doing well I just I seem to sort of flatten it out and start again.” He is compulsive by nature he explains. “I’ve lost millions being like that. But then again, I think well, I’m healthy and I’m an old man now, so I’ll just listen to myself. I can only go broke”, he smiles.
Money doesn’t matter much to Vince. When he sold the Mean Fiddler Group, he was richer than he could ever imagine but this was also one of the saddest times as he had to sign a three year non-compete clause. “I guess I don’t really have too much respect for money because I think if I had I wouldn’t do any of this. I would probably be ok financially, but this is like walking the tightrope every year. I shouldn’t be walking tightropes at my age!”
There’s a calmness to Vince, a twinkly peace in his eyes. He thinks out loud, “I just like being what I am, I was never meant to be rich. I’ve done almost everything. Not everything in life but everything I wanted to.”