With so much going on in the Big Smoke, it’s easy to forget that London is one of the best places for live music in the world. But you don’t have to splash out at the O2 or Wembley to get some groove in you. There are heaps of bars, pubs and clubs featuring live music all year round, from earthy folk to soulful blues. Here are eight of the best venues for live music:
Cosy bar and pub with live music every night
If you want to get up close and personal with some blues, you’ve come to the right place. Ain’t Nothing But is legendary among the beatnik crowd, serving up authentic live blues every night of the week. The Deep South decor, delicious range of real ales and spirits and great atmosphere make this place a true favourite.
Legendary former Marquee Club gets a stunning makeover
Want to party in the same club that once hosted Jimmi Hendrix, The Who and the Rolling Stones? Of course. Newly-refurbished 100 Wardour St pays tribute to these classic acts with an intelligent makeover, while creating some history of its own by hosting plenty of up-and-coming acts. And the place itself is astounding – make sure you check it out, no matter who’s playing.
Where: 100 Wardour Street, Soho, London, W1F 0TN, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road (0.4 miles)
Kooky bar with a variety of cool performances
There aren’t many pubs left in London like The Miller. A real hodgepodge of styles, it’s the kind of down and dirty bar that remind you of being a student: the beer’s cheap, the bar staff feel like friends, and customers sprawl out and play cards all night. Head upstairs, and you’ll find live music, comedy and more – it’s a real mix, so there’s bound to be something you love. Best of all, there’s a lovely atmosphere about the place: friendly, fun and genuine. Get down there and check it out.
Infamous hotbed of blues with a great barbecue
Bues Kitchen is becoming a real London music staple. And it’s not hard to see why: great bands, rollicking performances and top drinks make the Blues Kitchen an ideal place to get some blues in you. Best of all, you can order food to your table (try the ribs, they’re do die for) while watching the bands. And with a new location in Brixton joining the wildly successful outposts in Shoreditch and Camden, it’s never been easier to get your blues fix.
Authentic old-fashioned jazz club
For decades, Ronnie Scott’s has been the last word in live jazz in London. Moody, atmospheric and plush, Ronnie Scott’s take their jazz seriously. There’s an entrance fee, but the bands here are the very best around. Don’t leave without trying one of their cocktails, either: they pack a punch. For jazz aficionados, this is the real deal.
Blues bar with its very own house band
Sure, loads of places blast out the blues, but how many have inspired a band? Kansas Smitty’s have rocked some of London’s best music venues as part of their Basement Tapes tour, but now they can be found jamming in this unique and intimate underground Hackney bar. There’s a real energy about the place, probably thanks to the snappy juelps and live cocktails. They also host one-off gigs and poker nights. Top stuff.
Rock and metal Mecca
For some serious hard rock and metal, punk pub The World’s End is what you need. A fixture on the Camden Road, it’s attracted an unconventional crowd of rebels and rockers for decades. As you’d expect, there’s live music every week, with a wide range of bands across the spectrum, from folk-punk to death metal. Not for the faint hearted.
Stylish Brick Lane cocktail bar with acoustic sessions
For all the brilliance of the big bands, sometimes you just want to chill out with some acoustic melodies. Apples & Pears, in Shoreditch’s notorious Brick Lane, is one of those neighbourhood venus you wish you had at the end of your street. Their popular open mic nights attract some top local talent, with quality Asian plates and zingy cocktails at hand to keep you happy. A real gem.