London is one of the greatest music cities in the world. Artists such as David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, The Libertines and many, many more have spent countless hours honing their craft and electrifying audiences all of the capital. From the small clubs full of undiscovered local talent, to some of the larger spectacular stages, we’ve put a list together that just scratches the surface of what London’s live music scene has to offer…
Royal Albert Hall
Music venues don’t get much more beautiful than the historic Royal Albert Hall. Over the years this grand building has hosted classical concerts, rock and roll gigs, charity fundraisers, musical theatre anniversary shows and a whole lot more. If your favourite band has a live concert DVD, there’s a good chance it was filmed here 😉
Nearest Tube: South Kensington (District/Circle/Piccadilly Line)
The Dublin Castle
The opposite end of the capacity spectrum, but no less illuminating, the Dublin Castle’s stage has collected the sweat, tears and tunes of the very best of British rock and roll. From Madness to Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines to The Vaccines, you’d be hard pressed to find a big name in British rock that hasn’t tried their hand at entertaining the Camden crowd at the Dublin Castle.
Nearest Tube: Camden Town, Northern Line
As its website biography accurately states, Union Chapel is an architectural treasure. The building serves as a functioning church, and regularly hosts beautiful concerts of all genres. You just can’t help but feel lost in the majesty of the venue. They’ve seen the likes of Beck, Elton John and Philip Glass on stage to name but a few.
Nearest Tube: Highbury & Islington (Victoria Line/Overground)
In London’s underground music scene, anyone who’s anyone makes sure to add the Half Moon to their gig schedule. The venue has been a flagship for local live music in the city since the early sixties, and nowadays boasts and eclectic and polished line-up of quality musicians and entertainers from across the land.
Nearest Tube: Putney Bridge (District Line)
If you’re looking for the big, larger than life shows, The O2 is one of your best bets. The former Millennium Dome is now a cinema and concert arena that has hosted pretty much all the current greats, from Adele to Led Zeppelin. You’d be best to get tickets well in advance if you fancy a trip to the dome!
Nearest Tube: North Greenwich, Jubilee Line
A treasure of Camden, North London, the Barfly is a must for anyone hoping to check out bands on the verge of making the leap to the big time. The venue often hosts lesser known touring bands with a good but modest following, so you really might be seeing the next big thing. The Barfly is one of the best live music venues in London, and even accommodates for those looking for something with a house/club vibe.
Nearest Tube: Chalk Farm (Northern line)
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club
Switching it up a little with Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, a legendary venue for all things modern and fusion jazz. The atmosphere is beyond cool, with a swanky bar, delicious eats and music that will make your spine tingle. Don’t miss out on an evening of live jazz music at this London staple (since 1959)!
Nearest Tube: Tottenham Court Road (Central/Northern Line), Leicester Square (Northern/Piccadilly Line)
Back once again to Camden. Sensing a pattern here? Koko is the poster child of London music legends. It first opened as a theatre over 100 years ago, playing host to numerous arts projects over the years, including the recording of the Rolling Stones’ classic ‘Camden Theatre 1964’ album. Thousands of shows later (including the likes of Madonna and Coldplay), Koko is a firm local favourite for showcasing the best of the best London music.
Nearest Tube: Mornington Crescent (Northern Line)
O2 Academy Brixton
Of all the live music venues London has to offer, it doesn’t get more iconic than Brixton Academy. The stage has seen some monumental moments in British Music history, and is the typical mid-size venue go to for established national and international artists on the rise. The vintage theatre feel creates an atmosphere most venues around the world can only dream of.
Nearest Tube: Brixton, Victoria Line
The Roundhouse was formerly used as a turntable for trains in North London, and now hosts larger concerts by established acts. Every September, the entire venue transforms into the setting of the Apple Music Festival (previously known as the iTunes festival), offering free concerts by some of the world’s biggest artists. There is no other venue quite like this one.
Nearest Tube: Chalk Farm (Northern Line)
The Village Underground
A celebration of art and life can be found at the Village Underground in trendy Shoreditch. The venue offers itself as a cultural space for non-profit projects and installations, as well as regular gigs and events. Shoreditch itself is known for its up and coming alternative scene so it’s definitely one to check out!
Nearest Train Station: Shoreditch High Street
The Bussey Building
The CLF Art Café aka the Bussey Building offers all things art, comedy, theatre, film and of course, music. Unlike the other venues on this list, it’s actually a rooftop venue in Peckham, South London! The fusion of visual and audio art is inspiring, and a shining example of the magnificent London alternative scene.
Ally Pally, as it’s affectionately known by Londoners is a hub of North London creativity. From food and beer festivals, to celebrations of skating and crafts, there’s something for everyone on the calendar. Alongside all the varied art shows on offer, the venue acts as a beloved outdoor venue for summer gigs, with Slipknot, the Flaming Lips and Panic! At The Disco being recent tenants.
Nearest Tube: Wood Green (Piccadilly Line) or Alexandra Palace Train Station
Thanks to Phil Sheard, ale, vjlawson2001, Aurelien Guichard, Phil Sheard, and Drew de F Fawkes for their amazing pics!