London is a dream destination for music lovers, who are spoilt for choice when it comes to live gigs. The capital is home to numerous legendary music venues that cater to different tastes and there are always new spaces opening up.
London attracts the biggest names as well as up-and-coming new stars who come to perform live at the myriad of venues across the city. Head to Wembley Stadium if you want to watch a spectacular pop production, get your classical fix at the Barbican or check out rising talent at the Moth Club. Whatever your taste in music, there’s bound to be a concert that will take your fancy any night of the week.
Originally opened in 1929 as a cinema and theatre, the O2 Academy has since been transformed into one of London’s most famous music venues. The Grade II listed building first opened its doors as Brixton Academy in 1983, attracting big-name acts like Madonna, The Smiths, Arcade Fire, Sex Pistols and Debbie Harry over the years. It rebranded as the O2 Academy in 2004.
Wembley Stadium normally hosts football matches but has also been used for live gigs since 1972. Many of the world’s most famous musicians have performed at the venue at historic events like the Live Aid charity show in 1985 and Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday tribute concert. Michael Jackson holds the record for the most performances by any artist at the stadium, having played here 15 times.
Somerset House, once the site of a Tudor palace, is one of London’s oldest and best-known cultural venues. It’s famous for its film screenings, art exhibitions and talks but it also hosts a Summer Series every year, a music festival that showcases rising talent and high-profile artists in its spectacular courtyard. The Neoclassical building is notable for having survived extensive bombing during World War II.
This Grade II listed pub in Stepney dates back to the 17th century and used to be a halfway house. George Tavern has been mentioned in the work of famous writers Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens and Geoffrey Chaucer. It was transformed into a nightclub in the 1970s and has been running as a music venue since 2002, hosting acts like Nick Cave, The Magic Numbers and Anna Calvi.
Opened by Queen Victoria in 1871, Royal Albert Hall is one of London’s most magnificent buildings. It has hosted music events since 1941, when it first held the Proms, a famous festival of classical music. The Classic BRIT Awards also take place in the Grade I listed building in Kensington, which also holds concerts across all different genres of music.
Saxophonist Ronnie Scott opened this small basement club so there would be a place where local musicians could jam; since then it’s become one of the most famous jazz clubs in the world. Miles Davies, Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield, Chet Baker and Ella Fitzgerald are some of the big names who have performed here, and Jimi Hendrix played his last ever gig at Ronnie Scott’s in 1970.
Koko was originally known as The Music Machine before rebranding as Camden Palace in the 1980s. Madonna performed her first UK gig at the venue, which has also hosted the likes of Coldplay, Grace Jones, Prince, Lady Gaga and Kanye West. The club has been known as Koko since 2004.
This Grade II listed former railway engine shed was declared a National Heritage site in 2010. The arts and music venue has hosted the iTunes Festival and the BBC Electric Proms and is famous for being the last place where the late singer Amy Winehouse performed. Other notable shows include gigs by The Doors, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
This renowned West End basement club started life as Feldman Swing Club and quickly became a mecca for jazz fans. David Bowie, Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols and Oasis are some of the major artists who have graced the stage. At one point in the 1970s, it even had a Chinese takeaway inside the club, wedged in between the male and female toilets.