Some of the biggest names in the music industry have started off their careers in local, modest venues in London. While other more established pubs and music venues attract already well known names. The O2 Arena or the Wembley Arena are enormous venues which definitely deserve to the mentioned, and certain people will enjoy the atmosphere that only big crowds can produce, but in London there’s no shortage of small local pubs where music lovers can enjoy an evening listening to some great tunes and artists. And it’s exactly in these intimate local pubs where you can really get close and personal with the performers, unlike in a big concert hall or arena. The best 10 live music bars in London offer something much more than a few drinks and pub foods. It might just be that visitors end up being a part of pop culture history while attending these venues, seeing as some of them will go on to have tremendous careers. How many people can say they’ve been to a Beatles performance while they were playing in run down nightclubs in Germany and England? All beginnings are modest. However, some of the best London live music bars and pubs can attract already famous artists. Only in London folks, only in London.
This venue was first established back in 1942 as the Feldman Jazz Club, since 1964 it has been carrying the now iconic name of the 100 Club. Throughout its rich history some of the major names in the music industry have played here. The Rolling Stones, Alice Cooper, Metallica, Desmond Decker, Muddy Waters and the Sex Pistols, just to name a few. Nowadays the club focuses on R’n’B and jazz styles, with the goal of trying to present new faces and potential future stars.
Visiting address: 100 Oxford Street, London, W1D 1LL
With the ability to entertain 2000 people at once, The Forum hits the perfect balance when it comes to size, as it’s large enough to attract big names and small enough to make it feel more up close and personal. On certain occasions when they organize club nights, the venue is often packed. The fact that Rihanna and JT performed in The Forum is enough for it to make it onto any to London music venue list.
Visiting address: 9-17 Highgate Rd, Kentish Town, NW5 1JY
Reminiscent of a true 50’s jazz club, this London venue practically oozes with style and sophistication. One could argue that Ronnie Scott’s is the exact opposite of most nightclubs today, no fuss and silly intoxicated loud youngsters. It’s sheer elegance and everything about this London venue screams smooth! For jazz lovers, there’s no better place on a Friday or Saturday evening. In recent years some of the hottest jazz musicians performed here, such as Kurt Elling and Cassandra Wilson.
Visiting address: 47 Frith St, London, W1D 4HT
Next on the list of London’s best live music venues is Underworld. Concentrating on alternative scenes, loud and raunchy styles, it’s the antithetical variant to the No. 8 on this list. If electrified crowds headbanging each other is your thing, than Underworld is the place to be. Heavy metal, ska and punk music is regularly performed here. It’s appropriately located in the depths of The World’s End in Camden.
Visiting address: 174 Camden High Street, Camden, NW1 0NE
Who would have thought that a church would end up on any list that involves the greatest music venues. Well, London is full or surprises. Union Chapel is partially a church, a performance space and homeless shelter. Proceeds of the events in Union Chapel always go to a worthy cause. The Gothic styled Victorian church offers a tremendous atmosphere thanks to its magnificent architectural features.
Visiting address: Compton Terrace, London, N1 2UN
The Killers, Coldplay and Blur all performed at The Dublin Castle located in Camden. It’s a laid back venue with many great things to offer, especially to rock and roll fans. The pub has been owned by the same family for almost 30 years, and it prides itself with being one of London’s top indie music pubs. During an annual Camden Crawl, the late Amy Winehouse was asked where she wanted to perform, and her answer was of course the legendary Dublin Castle.
Visiting address: 94 Parkway, Camden, NW1 7AN
This venue was originally the Camden Theatre built in 1900. The building was renovated and restored to its former glory, and today it hosts some of the best music performances in London, if not the whole of England. The likes of Madonna, Prince, Oasis and Katy Perry have had their concerts in the KoKo club. In recent years it was the home to the greatest musical acts of the decade. With up to a dozen concerts each month, all genres of music are represented, from electronic to rock and roll.
Kate Bush made her debut appearance in The Half Moon Putney, the Rolling Stones played here as well as Elvis Costello. It’s needless to say how fascinating it is when such big names perform at a venue like this. Up and coming young talents are regularly given a chance to perform here, and you are more than welcome to contact them if you’re a musician looking for gigs. You never know which opportunity is going to be the big break.
Visiting address: 93 Lower Richmond Rd, Putney, SW15
In their earliest years, Franz Ferdinand and Coldplay performed at the Barfly before moving on to bigger and better things. This venue has a reputation for being one of the best places to jump start a musician’s career. Their event list is full of amazing young artists, so if you want to be witness to a birth of a future star, the Barfly is the venue to be at.
Visiting address: 49 Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AN
When making a list of London’s greatest live music venues, one has to make sure to put the Barbican music hall in a respectable place. It’s home to the London Symphony Orchestra and their event calendar is always filled up with stunning musical talents from all sorts of genres, including electronic sounds, rock and roll and jazz. The Barbican Center is actually an art performance center, and it’s the largest of its kind in Europe. It also boasts a theatre that was exclusively made for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Visiting address: Silk St, London, EC2Y 8BS