9 OF LONDON’S BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUES
From the bright lights of Brixton Academy to crystal chandeliers of Bush Hall, there are a wide array of fantastic live music venues in London playing host to some of the world’s best acts
1 Brixton Academy
The biggest venue on our list – with a capacity of almost 5,000 – this south London landmark (that started life as cinema in 1902 before becoming a music venue in 1983) has become the go-to venue for both bands and fans. With a large sloped standing area, seated gallery and knack for booking the best acts in town, you’ll be challenged to find a better place to sing along to your favourite songs.
211 Stockwell Road, Brixton SW9 9SL; 020 7771 3000; o2academybrixton.co.uk
Situated in an old theatre in Camden and previously known as the (now legendary) Camden Palace, Koko is a venue where anything goes. Acting as a home to both club nights and bands, there are several floors of fun to explore, complete with red and gold balconies and hidden bars around every turn.
1a Camden High Street, Camden NW1 7JE; 0870 432 5527; koko.uk.com
3 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Despite having a capacity of only 2,000, this historical venue – built as a music hall in 1903 – has hosted the likes of the Rolling Stones, Oasis and Kasabian, who have chosen its half seated/half standing interior as a backdrop for secret or warm-up gigs. Both artists and fans enjoy the intimacy of this unique west London venue.
Shepherd’s Bush Green, Shepherd’s bush W12 8TT; 020 8354 3300; o2shepherdsbushempire.co.uk
4 The Electric Brixton
Formerly known as The Fridge – a Brixton institution hosting hip hop and dance nights – this Brixton Hill venue reopened as the Electric Brixton after a £1,000,000 face lift in 2010. Predominantly used for big club nights, the venue’s stage has also played host to the likes of Primal Scream in recent years, and offers chance to get pretty close to your musical heroes.
Town Hall Parade, Brixton SW2 1RJ; 020 7274 2290; electricbrixton.uk.com
5 Bush Hall
Built in 1904 as a dance hall, Bush Hall is a unique space, and independently owned. Emerging bands take to the stage under dazzling crystal chandeliers and restored cornicing, but it’s not all about new talent – the likes of Adele, REM, Florence and the Machine, The Killers and Kings of Leon have all graced Bush Hall and its visitors with their presence.
310 Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush W12 7LJ; 020 8222 6955; bushhallmusic.co.uk
6 Electric Ballroom
Another great venue for getting up close and personal to your favourite acts, the Electric Ballroom has an eclectic line-up of performers and club nights and, in typical Camden style, offers something for everyone. You’re just as likely to find yourself crowd surfing to heavy metal as you are tapping your feet to Miles Kane.
184 Camden High Street, Camden NW1 8QP; 020 7485 9006; electricballroom.co.uk
7 Hammersmith Apollo
Re-opened last year after a refurbishment project that restored it to its spectacular Art Deco former glory, the Eventim Hammersmith Apollo is a very special venue. So special, in fact, that it’s hosted one of 2014’s most high profile run of gigs, with Kate Bush taking to the stage for a mind-blowing 22 nights. Get there early to appreciate the architectural wonder of the bar, before venturing into the performance space.
45 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith W6 9QH; 020 8563 3800; eventimapollo.com
8 The Roundhouse
Could this be one of London’s most stunning venues? Our vote is yes. Situated in a Grade II Listed former railway engine shed, the circular building has become more high profile since hosting the annual iTunes Festival. As well as a stellar space in which to watch some of the world’s best acts as part of an intimate crowd – Bob Dylan to name but one – there’s a fantastic outdoor terrace that’s great for a pre-gig beer in the summer.
Chalk Farm Road, Camden NW1 8EH; 0300 678 9222; roundhouse.org.uk
9 The Forum
Another cinema that’s now used as a live music venue, The Forum is one of North London’s favourite venues. Like a smaller Brixton Academy, there’s both standing and seating, and it provides a handsome Art Deco backdrop to the likes of Buzzcocks, the Happy Mondays and an array of club nights.
9-17 Highgate Road, Kentish Town NW5 1JY; 020 7428 4080; mamacolive.com/theforum