Large venue that features a diverse range of bands, spanning from older acts to more current chart-toppers. It also hosts a student night with prices to match.
Having spent the 90s as the Town & Country Club, this gothic venue was refurbished and opened as the O2 Academy in 2008, and has been a perennial favourite with both students and locals since.
Expensive, generic lager comes with the territory when you take the corporate dollar, and there’s no food to be had anywhere, but you don’t visit the Academy to eat. Old bands reuniting to pay their mortgages seems to account for half of its schedule, and tickets are normally quite pricey – nearly £30 to see the The Boomtown Rats, for example – but it also attracts more current names. In the past 12 months, it’s hosted chart stars such as Clean Bandit, Sam Smith, The Courteeners and a two-night Christmas extravaganza by local indie icons The Cribs. Propaganda, a popular student night that offers cheap Jägerbombs and beer, offsets the big-ticket events.
As a gig venue, however, it’s functional but little more. The interior is basic: a two-tiered, 4,000-capacity space means it’s large but not cavernous, with seating on the upper tier, and there’s also a smaller basement area for club nights. The sound quality is very good until you get further back than the sound desk and into the bar areas.
The Academy may no longer be the biggest venue in Leeds, since the opening of the First Direct Arena in 2013, but it nevertheless manages to pull in the most satisfyingly diverse range of names.
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