The Manly Vale Hotel at 250 Condamine Street, Manly Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches was one of Sydney’s premier suburban rock venues in the 70’s, 80’s and continued to host live bands up until the pubs demise in the mid 90s. Back in the 1980’s, you didn’t need to travel to a big Entertainment Centre or the big Olympic stadiums to see a high profile band like you do nowadays. Back in those days, the rock n roll war was being fought in the Sydney suburbs, and these suburban beer drinking crowds were often the litmus test for any band. If you could make it playing to the often hostile but still rock savvy suburban crowds, you could make it anywhere – as evidenced by the success of bands like INXS, the Oils, radiators, Angels etc. Chisel’s Phil Small remembers “The Manly Vale Hotel, you’d maybe get 1500 people in there. Places like that would have the proper stage. I don’t remember but I think they had the in-house PA, even back then. They used to pack them out. We were pretty much peaking around ’80, ’81. Most of the time they’d pack them in like sardines. A lot of the time when I was on stage I’d see this sea of people and I’d think, how ? To me that’s not having a good time – standing there, squashed up, it’s smoky, you can’t get a drink. And some venues were quite stretched. At the Manly Vale, it was always plastic cups, never any glasses.”
The large band room held around 3000, and it often sold out. The pub was originally called Millers Manly Vale, then Bryant’s, but it was always known as simply the Manly Vale. Consider just some of the bands who played here. Deep Purple in the mid 70s, Simple Minds in 1982, UB40, Cold Chisel, Dead Kennedys in 1983 and many more profile international bands that escape me now. New Race also recorded part of their live album here.
The Manly Vale was one large hotel, a beer barn with many bars and rooms. I have great memories of trudging up those steps to have an ice cold schooner, see a great band, put some cash through a cardie or have a punt, often stopping to talk rugby league with the bouncer, none other than former Manly Warringah Sea Eagles flyer Stuart ‘The Bug’ Davis. Great days my friends.
This was a strategic move so the Rockbrat could live close to the pub, although by now, it was called the Peninsular Hotel, and the big band room upstairs was closed, with only the Basement downstairs hosting bands, particularly local bands. The Rockbrat saw many gigs here too, including Asteroid B-612, Brother Brick, Panadolls, Nitocris, Toxic Blonde, Medusa, Mark Of Cain, Fur, Hanging Tree, Sugar Shack, Freeloaders, Powder Monkeys, Iron Sheiks, and Powderfinger. In fact the very last band I saw here (I think) in late 1996 was the then final gig by the Psychotic Turnbuckles. When I drove past in April, 1997, the pub was replaced by a block of units. Here is an article that appeared in The Manly Daily in 1996 at the time of the venue’s closure.