London is famous for many reasons and one of them is definitely the music scene. London’s venues played host to some of the most iconic musical moments in history. There are countless live music gigs happening every day across the capital. Every second person you meet in Shoreditch is in a band (if only one!). When planning a visit to London, I’d strongly suggest experiencing some of this musical magic.
One of the most beautiful venues is the Brixton Academy. Originally built as a theatre and a cinema in the 1930s in an art deco style, it managed to save some of the original features, such as the proscenium arch. It has won several Venue of the Year awards and the likes of The Clash, Sex Pistols, Arcade Fire and Madonna graced the stage with their presence. Another architectonically stunning gem is the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Conveniently surrounded by quite a few affordable London hotels, its 1903 purpose built music hall was designed by a theatre architect Frank Matcham. One of the first performers was The Fred Karno troupe, including young Charlie Chaplin! Surviving the bombing of the World War II, in the 1950s Empire became BBC’s Television Theatre and almost all of the BBC’s music shows were recorded there, with stars such as Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield and Cliff Richard in the spotlight. Alexandra Palace, or Ally Pally, was designed to be the people’s palace and built in 1873 as a public centre of recreation, education and entertainment. After the original Lucas Brothers’ design was destroyed by a fire just 16 days after its opening, it took only two years to bring it back to life and the new building included a concert hall, museum, library, theatre, banqueting room, lecture hall and art galleries. In the 1930s Ally Pally became BBC’s transmission centre and the world’s first high definition television broadcast was made from there in 1936. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Blur have all played there across its time in use. The palace also became a regular spot for All Tomorrow’s Parties’ Portishead curated ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ events.
However on top of all the iconic venues, London’s music scene is kept vibrant thanks to independent promoters who put on small gigs showcasing upcoming talent, which might end up being the next big thing. Chaos Theory caters for a lot of tastes: from The Jazz Market to The Facemelter, focused on new metal and progressive artists. The venues are smaller, but cosy (including The Wilmington Arms in Islington, a gorgeous little pub) and you get to support independent musicians and see them grow. 1000 Hertz just launched in the Urban Bar in Whitechapel and are bringing you the best in independent leftfield music. The Artful Noise introduces post-punk and hardcore bands and the next event will take place at Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes, legendary venues with a 50s feel.
Whether you decide to experience a big scale event or an intimate gig, London won’t let you down. There’s always going to be music pumping through the city’s veins – all you need to do is go out and let it find you.