The best music venues in London: Scala

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Although the venue has vacillated between use as a picturehouse and concert hall (along with brief stretches as an aeroplane parts factory and demob labour exchange), the Scala’s one consistent trait has been its lack of respect for authority.

The famous images of Iggy Pop for the cover of ‘Raw Power’ were taken during a Stooges show here in 1972, and its stint as a cinema was ended after Stanley Kubrick sued it into bankruptcy for showing ‘A Clockwork Orange’.

Nowadays, it’s one of the most rewarding venues to push your way to the front of for those cusp-of-greatness shows by big names in waiting.

  1. 275-277 Pentonville Rd, N1 9NL
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Next venue: The O2

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  • Scala

    Although the venue has vacillated between use as a picturehouse and concert hall, the Scala’s one consistent trait has been its lack of respect for authority.
  • The O2

    The plucky 20,000-seater has proved the critics wrong and established itself as the capital’s de facto home of the megagig.
  • Ash performing at the HMV Forum

    The Forum

    The Forum became a music venue in the early 1980s, and its size and location mean it’s been vital to generations of London gig-goers.
  • Jazz Café

    Given its reputation, you wouldn’t think the Jazz Café was a newbie on London’s music map, but it was only converted from a branch of Barclays in 1990.
  • New York Philharmonic perform at the Barbican


    It might look like it was built in 1920s Uzbekistan (then turned inside out) but the Barbican is about to celebrate its thirtieth birthday.
  • o2 Shepherds Bush Empire

    O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire

    The building’s baroque interior exudes a grown-up glamour few venues can match.
  • Limelight at the 100 Club

    100 Club

    These days it's a hub for blues rockers, pub rockers and trad jazzers, coming into its own for secret gigs by A-list bands.

  • The Horrors performing at the Shacklewell Arms

    Shacklewell Arms

    The Shacklewell Arms occupies the position in fashionable hearts that was held by the Old Blue Last in the past.
  • Ronnie Scotts

    Ronnie Scott's

    Opened by British saxophonist Ronnie Scott in 1959, Ronnie’s has since amassed as much history as the British Museum.
  • XOYO


    Although it’s as east London as pretending to like pie and mash, XOYO is a venue in the un-grand New York tradition.
  • Alexandra Palace

    Poor old Ally Pally: this landmark hilltop venue opened in 1873 as The People’s Palace, but it’s been devastated by fire twice.
  • Coldplay at the iTunes Music Festival 2011


    The Roundhouse was built in 1846 as a turntable shed for steam engines, and the venue has married beauty with beastly behaviour ever since.
  • The Vortex


    There are few venues in the city you could visit on spec at any time and be guaranteed to hear something interesting.
  • Night Time Queue at the Royal Albert Hall

    Royal Albert Hall

    Besides its astonishing acoustics and an atmosphere which rivals the Vatican, its elegance makes the venue feel like part of the performance.
  • Koko

    Camden features heavily in London’s pop history, but Koko has had a hand in the gestation of numerous sounds and styles over the decades.
  • Brixton Academy

    O2 Brixton Academy

    This art deco gem straddles the chasm between the pomp of a stadium show and the intimate atmosphere of a club.
  • The Lexington

    The Lexington

    This is where the hottest US exports will generally make their London debut.
  • The Windmill

    The Windmill

    The Windmill is certainly not your average music venue, but its unprepossessing exterior is a cloak for its dedication to new leftfield music.
  • Geese performing at the Shh Festival

    Cecil Sharp House

    Headquarters of the English Folk Dance And Song Society, Cecil Sharp House is a great place to visit even when there isn’t any music playing.
  • Union Chapel

    Union Chapel

    The devil might have all the best tunes, but the Union Chapel is proof that him downstairs knows bugger-all about architecture.

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