First look inside the renovated Paradise Rock Club

Click here for the full gallery of Paradise renovation photos (by Derek Kouyoumjian)

Joey McIntyre, we’ve got good news: the Paradise has moved that “big frickin’ pole,” just for you.

Well, sort of. Technically, it’s the stage that’s moved — 15 feet towards Commonwealth Avenue — as part of a two-month, $400,000 renovation of the legendary live music club, to be completed this weekend. Marina and the Diamonds will be the first act, on September 1, to play the Paradise without having a two-foot cement support beam blocking the view.

“The pole was always in the middle,” said Paradise co-owner Joe Dunne during a Monday afternoon walk-through. “The one complaint from patrons and bands was always the pole.”

Rock fans have been complaining about the pole for decades, but it took a New Kid’s ire to finally get it removed. When McIntyre expressed his good-natured anti-pole feelings known in a December interview with the Herald, “that gave us a kick in the ass,” Dunne said. “But it was a huge job and it evolved from there.”

The new-look Paradise has the same general floorplan, though subtle changes have made a noticeable difference to the sightlines. The altered stage is just three square feet larger than the old one, but its new position allows it to be centered between the two remaining poles. “The pole is still there,” Dunne laughs, “but it just affects the bass player.”

The two most impactful changes involve the box office and the long, narrow corridor that used to create a bottleneck jam for sweaty audiences at the end of shows. The box office now sits at the street entrance of the club, and the hallway ends midway along its former length, allowing a panoramic view of the new stage area and drastically opening up the room.

The Paradise’s distinctive mid-level booths and VIP area have been gutted, creating a larger general-admission floor area. One bar – the one that would be on your left upon entering the main room -- has been relocated to the opposite corner (where bands sometimes stored gear), and is now expanded into a U-shape. There’s new sound and lighting, wider staircases, a fire escape in the balcony, a new sound booth, and a fresh paint job that was still drying when the Phoenix took its tour.

“It’s still the Paradise. We didn’t go radical,” adds Live Nation talent buyer Ryan Vangel. “We didn’t try to change the feel of the room.”

The Paradise Lounge front room remains intact but is smaller: the lounge’s old balcony section has been converted into two state-of-the-art green rooms for the main space. (Touring bands can look forward to hi-def TVs, a shower area, and a washer/drier unit.)

“Very few clubs this size have these types of amenities,” said co-owner Declan Mehigan (who with Dunne has ownership shares in the club along with Boston Opera House Ventures). “The real issue was [to] change the configuration of the stage, alter the sightlines, and then make a change for the better for the bands.”

The room’s listed capacity will remain unchanged at 728, though smart money says the owner aim to increase that figure after it gets a few shows under its belt. To this reporter’s eyes, the new configuration could hold up to 1,000 people.

Click here for the full gallery of Paradise renovation photos (by Derek Kouyoumjian)


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