The jumping crowds, the thudding bass, the over-priced beer… everyone loves a good gig. London has hundreds, nay thousands, of places you can go and listen to live music. From the crowds of the O2 and Wembley to the much smaller corner pubs and cafés, there are myriad genres and artists to choose from. We’ve selected a few places where we think a night of live music can’t be beat.
Oval Space, Bethnal Green
Oval Space first opened its doors in April 2012. Once a former medical supplies warehouse, it now hosts a range of events from live music to performance art. Located in the heart of Bethnal Green in east London, it is nestled in an industrial complex, offering stunning views of the harsh steel structures of the gas holders to the rear.
The 6,000 square-metre warehouse-style space has a main events floor, an art gallery and two outside terraces. Fittingly for its industrial location, it hosts predominately electronic, house, and left-field music (hosting the first of many London Electric Arts Festival events this November). If you’re up for a party, Oval Space is the place to be. You can catch Giorgio Moroder (who features on the latest Daft Punk album) there on the 8th Nov.
Union Chapel, Islington
Built in the late 19th century, this Victorian Gothic church couldn’t be more different from the disused gas works of Oval Space. By day, the Grade I listed building is a working church and help centre for the homeless, but as the night arrives it becomes one of London’s greatest music venues. The domed ceiling, stained-glass windows, flagstone flooring and archways simply blow you away with grandeur and make for heavenly acoustics. You’ve also got the main floor or balcony, both complete with pews, to choose from, but there is room to stand should you feel like dancing. Keep your eyes out for some big names coming to the church too – it’s seen Florence and the Machine grace the stage and Sparks are coming to town to play three nights there at the end of November. Surely that says it all?
House of Wolf, Islington
This three-storey “Victorian lair” opened back in October 2012 and was one of London’s earliest listed music halls. It has several bars and dining areas all with different aesthetics, all appropriately Victorian-sounding in name (Apothecary, Parlour, The Fainting Room). The Apothecary, to take but one of the rooms, has a large and imposing wooden prescription cabinet housing the booze, with a white tiled bar, cast-iron bar stools, exposed light bulbs, and a selection of ‘vintage’ chairs. If you get bored of the atmosphere, you can just change levels and experience a whole new décor. They offer fantastic cocktails and some great dishes for you to try; throw in some live music or a club night and you’ve got the ingredients for a fantastic night out.
Tamesis Dock, Albert Embankment
By far the most outlandish of our venues, (perhaps because it’s not on land to begin with), the Tamesis started life as a Dutch barge in the 1930s, originally named Annie G. Now called the Tamesis (after the River Thames’ historical name) it’s used as a floating pub and events space. You can find it bobbing at the Albert Embankment, offering stunning views of the House of Parliament and the London Eye. It’s deceptively spacious inside and offers a selection of beers, wines, and spirits as well as some tasty grub. Should the weather be sunny, there’s an outside deck, as well as some dedicated space on shore should your sea legs fail you. It hosts the Finnstock Music Festival, DJ nights and has seen Bastille, Local Natives, and Deap Vally play, to name just a few.
This hipster-happy venue is open ’til late and features all sort of bands during the week, as well as DJs at the weekend. If you like your bands with a burger, their baps from Psychic Burger are amongst the best in town. The sound system is epic, the craft beers are plentiful and it’s the perfect setting for an intimate gig. Up-and-coming bands feature regularly, so if new music is your thing, get yourself down there sharpish.