6 of the Best Live Music Venues in London

Loud and Proud: A Guide to London's Finest Live Music Venues

In a city that's inspired The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Amy Winehouse, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Adele, Queen, The Pet Shop Boys and countless other musicians and bands, it's no surprise that London is home to some of the world's best live music venues. Whether you're into folk, pop, rock, soul or otherwise, there's a gig venue in London that'll be music to your ears.

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O2 Brixton Academy

Brixton Academy
Judit Erdos

This legendary venue in Brixton, south London originally opened as a theater in 1929 but has played host to top acts including The Clash, Amy Winehouse, Madonna and The Smiths since 1983. The stage area is based on the Rialto Bridge in Venice and it's home to Europe's largest fixed stage. You can enjoy great views from wherever you choose to stand here thanks to an innovative sloped floor design. 

Venue capacity: 4,921

Venue facilities: There are two main bars in the main foyer area and four small bars up in the stalls. There are a cloakroom and a small outlet that serves fast food. Unreserved seating is available upstairs.

How to get there: The nearest tube station is Brixton, on the Victoria Line. 

02 of 06

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall
Ian Gavan/Getty Images

This grand concert hall opposite Hyde Park was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 as a tribute to her husband Albert, who died six years earlier. The stunning circular structure features a glass and wrought iron domed roof and a stained glass skylight. The interiors are decked out in regal shades of red and gold and the acoustics benefit from sound-diffusing fiberglass discs that hang from the ceiling. Acts like the Beatles and Frank Sinatra raved about taking to the stage here and the dramatic venue only enhances each performance. 

Venue capacity: 5,272

Venue facilities: There no fewer than 12 drinking and dining spots throughout the venue, including a laid-back Italian kitchen and a champagne bar. There's a gift shop in the box office and merchandise is available before and after each show. Guided tours are available most days. 

How to get there: The nearest tube station is Knightsbridge, on the Piccadilly Line. 

03 of 06

Union Chapel

Union Chapel London
Amy T. Zielinski/Getty Images

This beautiful venue is a working church by day and an intimate concert hall by night. The chapel was built in the Gothic style in the late 19th century and the octagonal-shaped building features stunning stained glass windows, hefty granite columns and an organ chamber behind a wrought iron screen. The acoustics are impressive and there are few venues in London that are as atmospheric as this. As well as live music, you can also catch comedy events and film screenings. All tickets are for unreserved seating in the original wooden pews. 

Venue capacity: 900

Venue facilities: The Union Chapel Bar is located in the chapel's original lecture hall. It's open before, during and after performances. Note that drinks cannot be taken into the venue itself. Margins Cafe serves main meals and light bites and all profits go to the church's own homeless charity, The Margins Project. There's a cloakroom in the foyer of the chapel. 

How to get there: The nearest tube station is Highbury & Islington, on the Victoria Line. 

04 of 06

The Roundhouse

This multi-purpose performing arts center in Camden started life as a steam engine repair shed in 1846. It's now one of London's best-loved venues for live music having been completely refurbished in 2006 and fitted with flexible seating and state of the art lighting and sound systems. The bare brick circular auditorium is reminiscent of a vast Victorian warehouse and but the modern technology ensures that the acoustics are topnotch. 

Venue capacity:  1,700

Venue facilities: There's a buzzy bar for pre-show drinks and snacks on the ground floor and a selection of bars inside the venue itself. A terrace opens up in the summer months. There's a cloakroom in the foyer and a merchandise stall up on the first floor. Seating is available for all gigs on level 2.

How to get there: The nearest tube station is Chalk Farm, on the Northern Line. 

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05 of 06

Barbican Hall

The Barbican is Europe's largest multi-arts venue and its stunning wood-paneled concert hall is home to both the London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The venue attracts classical stars, world music heavyweights and contemporary acts who want to take advantage of auditorium's incredible acoustics. It may seat close to 2,000 people but it feels unusually intimate. 

Venue capacity: 1,943

Venue facilities: The vast Barbican Centre is home to cinemas, a theatre, exhibition halls and six drinking and dining spots, including a number of bars and cafes in the foyer. There's plenty to do here before and after gigs. A free cloakroom service is available prior to performances. 

How to get there: The nearest tube station is Barbican, on the Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith and City Lines. 

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Koko London
Ollie Millington/Getty Images

This former theatre and cinema dates back to 1900 and has played host to iconic British acts including The Rolling Stones, The Clash, and Amy Winehouse. It's where Madonna played her first UK performance and Prince took to the stage for a series of secret gigs in 2015. There are regular club nights on Fridays and Saturdays when the venue is open until 4 am. 

Venue capacity: 1,410

Venue facilities: There are several balconies at this venue and bars dotted around the place at every level. There are two identical cloakrooms (make a note of where you deposited your outer layers when you drop them off). 

How to get there: The nearest tube station is Mornington Crescent, on the Northern Line.