The best music venues in London: the full list

The city's 20 best places to see live music, as voted by Time Out readers

The 20 best music venues in London



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.

  1. 275-277 Pentonville Rd, N1 9NL
What's on?

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.

  1. Peninsula Square, SE10 0DX
What's on?

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.

  1. 9-17 Highgate Rd, NW5 1JY
What's on?

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.

  1. 5 Parkway, NW1 7PG
What's on?


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

  1. Silk St, EC2Y 8DS
What's on?

O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire

The building’s baroque interior exudes a grown-up glamour few venues can match.

  1. Shepherd's Bush Green, W12 8TT
What's on?

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.

  1. 100 Oxford St, W1D 1LL
What's on?

Shacklewell Arms

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

  1. 71 Shacklewell Lane, E8 2EB
What's on?

Ronnie Scott's

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

  1. 47 Frith St, W1D 4HT
What's on?


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

  1. 32-37 Cowper St, EC2A 4AP
What's on?

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.

  1. Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY
What's on?


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

  1. Chalk Farm Rd, NW1 8EH
What's on?


There are few venues in the city you could visit on spec at any time and be guaranteed to hear something interesting.

  1. 11 Gillett Square, N16 8AZ
What's on?

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.

  1. Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP
What's on?


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.

  1. 1a Camden High St, NW1 7JE
What's on?

O2 Brixton Academy

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

  1. 211 Stockwell Rd, SW9 9SL
What's on?

The Lexington

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

  1. 96-98 Pentonville Rd, N1 9JB
What's on?

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.

  1. 22 Blenheim Gardens, SW2 5BZ
What's on?

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.

  1. 2 Regent's Park Rd, NW1 7AY
What's on?

Union Chapel

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

  1. Compton Terrace, N1 2UN
What's on?

More of London's best music venues

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After a few seriously hard equations, we've compiled a list of the 20 best music venues in London. Where does your favourite rank?
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The musicians' picks

It wasn't just the public who chipped in: Florence Welch, Skepta and many more musicians gave us their two cents
See the musician's picks of music venues

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What's the deal with… Raleigh Ritchie?

The 'Adulthood' and 'Game of Thrones' actor making a move into pop music

How to handle a house visit from Prince

Lianne La Havas tells us about having a pop superstar over for tea

Interview: Katy B

We take the south London pop bombshell out for pizza to chat about her new album

What's the deal with… Elliphant?

Get the lowdown on Sweden's next pop sensation

What's the deal with… George Ezra?

Get the lowdown on this young singer-songwriter, tipped for success in 2014

The top 10 BRIT Awards showdowns

We take a look back at the rivalries, confrontations and weird encounters that have made The BRITs the nation's biggest and best music awards

Calvin Harris in numbers

As the Dumfries producer rocks Earl's Court, we look at his determining digits

New acts to watch out for in 2014

Say hello to the bands and artists set to seduce your ears this year

What's the deal with Say Yes Dog?

Here's everything you need to know about the rising, Dutch-based synth-poppers

Five things you didn't know about Charles Bradley

The sexagenerian soul singer tells us some little-known facts about his extraordinary life

The 40 best albums of 2013

From glorious comebacks to stunning debuts, we round up the very best records of the year

Christmas albums of 2013: the best and worst

Two Time Out music critics review all the year’s biggest Yuletide LPs

The making of Africa Express

As the second Africa Express album is released, we take a look at the project's journey so far

What's the deal with Chlöe Howl?

Here's everything you need to know about the pop sensation from Maidenhead

What's the deal with Flume?

Here's everything you need to know about the Australian electronic wunderkind

Keeping it real: J Cole

We quiz the hip hop megastar and 'born sinner' on life in the real world

What's the deal with… Nick Mulvey?

Everything you need to know about the talented young singer-songwriter

Punk 45: great punk record covers

We asked 'Punk 45' editor Stuart Baker to pick his favourite singles covers

Time Out's top 100 party songs

You’re having a party, you say? Rest assured, we've got you covered: here's our selection of guaranteed floorfillers

The Show: six classic R&B tracks

Join Sisqó and more ’90s stars for a smooth and steamy bump 'n' grind down memory lane

Interview: Arcade Fire

Once the saddest band on the indie scene, Arcade Fire now throw voodoo-inspired disco parties. Frontman Win Butler talks about his new love for lamé

Tinie Tempah's weirdest lyrics

Here's the oddest stuff we heard while listening to the grime rapper's new album 'Demonstration'

What's the deal with… Banks?

Here's everything you need to know about LA's coolest new singer

Mercury Prize: James Blake wins

Why 'Overgrown' shouldn't have taken the prize – and how it could have been much, much worse

The greatest moustaches in music

Looking for Movember inspiration? Here's our countdown of the fifteen best styles from the world of music

Interview: Jessie J

The singer's shifted 2.5 million albums worldwide – but, as we find out, it's not been easy…

London's magical music venues

Catch a gig in a church, a tunnel, a boathouse, or a stranger's living room

Luke Sital-Singh's top 5 London coffee shops

The singer-songwriter's favourite places for a caffeine hit

What's the deal with Ooh La La! Festival

Everything you need to know about this showcase of new French music

20 reasons for a Wiley statue

An online petition calls for the grime MC to be memorialised in Bow – here's why

Jay Z in numbers

As the diamond geezer comes to London, we run through Jigga's figures

Interview: Iggy Azalea

The explosive, industrious young Aussie rapper tells her side of the story

Keeping it real: So Solid Crew

We quiz Mega on Lidl and politics, and find out 'So Solid ain't coming back'

What’s the deal with… Bondax?

Get the lowdown on the daisy-fresh teenage production duo

Interview: Nicolas Jaar

The electronic wunderkind on improving Daft Punk, selling cubes and why he's like a carpenter

Listen Up!

See what Time Out readers are listening to and send us your #ListenUp selfies

Interview: Haim

We send superfan Farhana Begum to chat about stage outfits, bass face and bathroom blockages

Five things you didn't know about Fleetwood Mac

There's more to the classic rock band than meets the eye: here are five facts that aren't just rumours

Vaughan Oliver's favourite 4AD artwork

The designer of iconic covers for Pixies and more picks his most-loved from a 30-year career

Interview: MGMT

We find out why the psychedelic duo have taken a chance on trance

What's the deal with Lorde?

Everything you need to know about the young Kiwi pop star

The Clash in Time Out

As the seminal London punk band curate a pop-up exhibition, we dig out our reviews of their classic releases

Mercury Prize 2013: our tips

Who'll make the shortlist for the best British album of the year? Here's our prediction…

Interview: Factory Floor

Why one of London's best bands retreated to Seven Sisters

Lady Gaga v Andy Warhol: who said that?

Take our quote quiz and see if you can tell…

The wit and wisdom of Alex Kapranos

The Franz Ferdinand frontman on Scottish independence, Terry Wogan and more

Interview: Franz Ferdinand

The indie heroes tell us why they've been flying under the radar

What's the deal with… Chance The Rapper?

Everything you need to know about the new, soulful kid on the Chicago hip hop block

Interview: Selena Gomez

The chart-topping singer tells us about the four pillars of her pop success

New music from south London

Won't go south of the river? You're missing out. Here are five new acts you have to hear

Akala: five songs which shaped hip hop

The London MC picks the most important tracks in rap history

What's the deal with Youngblood Hawke?

Everything you need to know about the cola-soundtracking Californians

Outdoor gigs this summer

Don’t swelter indoors – enjoy some open-air music in the heart of the city

Joe Goddard interview

We meet the solo artist, label boss, and member of Hot Chip and The 2 Bears who's becoming a London icon

Joe Goddard's favourite London spots

The electro wizard tells us where he shops, eats and chills in the capital

What's the deal with… Torres?

Everything you need to know about the Nashville singer-songwriter and her screaming guitar

Five things you didn't know about AlunaGeorge

The classy pop duo dish their toilet gossip

What's the deal with… Malawi Mouse Boys?

Everything you need to know about the rodent salesmen-turned-gospel band

What's the deal with… Clean Bandit?

Here's everything you need to know about the awesome foursome from Cambridge

Interview: Lionel Richie

‘I have a VICIOUS butt dance’… take a tour of the Commodore's mind

The Duckworth Lewis Method's cricket dictionary

Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh explain the sport’s rudest terms

Interview: Kasabian

How to rock a festival, according to Serge Pizzorno and Tom Meighan

Interview: Phoenix

The French group discuss Jägerbombs, nudity and why R Kelly can’t actually fly

Tom Odell's London

The Brit-winning singer-songwriter's favourite spots in the capital

What's the deal with… Visions Festival?

Everything you need to know about the Hackney one-dayer

What's the deal with… The Strypes?

Everything you need to know about the pint-sized rock ’n’ rollers

Interview: The Killers

Las Vegas's finest look back on ten years of London gigs

Interview: Pet Shop Boys

Tennant and Lowe on being extraordinary, pushing the envelope… and singing like Madonna

The making of Kanye West

We follow the loud-mouthing, Kardashian-loving mega rapper's journey from Georgia to 'Yeezus'

The 20 best albums of 2013 so far

Halfway through the year, we look back on some seriously good music

Interview: Katie Stelmanis

The Austra frontwoman talks Toronto, home truths and jigsaws

What's the deal with Childhood?

Everything you need to know about the young London pop-shoegazers

Interview: Disclosure

We meet the young brothers bringing quality dance music back to the charts

Interview: Mumford & Sons

The world-conquering foursome tell us why Glastonbury keeps them awake at night

Interview: Lovefoxxx

The CSS star talks skydiving, manga and oral hygiene

Capital FM Summertime Ball: pop tribes

From Swifties to Psy-entologists, who you'll see at Wembley this weekend

Interview: Empire of the Sun

The synth-poppers tell us what to expect when they headline Wilderness festival

What's the deal with Yasmine Hamdan?

Everything you need to know about the Lebanese rising star

Sofar Sounds: the story so far

How the ‘living room’ gig series is bringing intimacy back to live music

Interview: Bastille

Dan Smith on haircuts, success and David Lynch

Keeping it real: Jared Leto

We quiz the rock star (plus actor) on life in the real world

What's the deal with Atlas Genius?

Everything you need to know about the Aussie duo

Keeping it real: Angel Haze

We quiz the NY rapper on life in the real world

Interview: Vampire Weekend

Ezra Koenig on bullets, tape and rock ’n’ roll

Resonance FM

We meet the Londoners broadcasting on the city's independent radio station

Interview: The XX

How three south London outsiders put on a festival

What's the deal with… Valentina?

Everything you need to know about the spook ’n’ kook singer-songwriter

Beyoncé v The Queen

Two regal ladies face off: who runs the world?

Interview: Public Service Broadcasting

The London duo taking retro music to exciting new extremes

Interview: The Vaccines

We take the group on a nostalgia trip to Brixton

What's the deal with… Cayucas?

Everything you need to know about the rising surf-poppers

5 things you didn't know about Peaches

The porn-pop provocatrix on actors and Andrew Lloyd Webber

What's the deal with Snoop Lion?

Everything you need to know about the rap star turned rasta(ish)

What's the deal with Tomorrow's World?

Everything you need to know about the synth-tastic duo

James Blake interview

The electronic soul wunderkind on Eno and Transatlantic love

Charlotte Church interview

How the voice of an angel turned tabloid pariah became cool

La Linea festival

The full line-up for London's Latin music festival

What's the deal with Filthy Boy?

Everything you need to know about the dirty-minded four-piece

King Creosote: out of time

The Scottish folk singer tells us why modern life is rubbish

What's the deal with… Woodkid?

Everything you need to know about Yoann Lemoine

Get Dirty at 100 Club

Win tickets for tiny, sweaty, big-name shows

The Time Out guide to country

A layman's guide to the Nashville sound

What's the deal?: Tom Odell

Everything you need to know about the Brit Award favourite

The five ages of Timberlake

From dungarees to 'Suit & Tie', two decades of JT in videos

Somerset House Summer Series

See Jessie Ware, Of Monsters And Men, Tom Odell and more

Interview: Wilko Johnson

The terminally ill guitar hero is still feeling groovy

Chvrches: five facts

The Glaswegian synthpop trio on spelling and Emeli Sandé

See the Brit Awards winners live

Catch Emeli Sandé, Ben Howard and more this summer

Interview: Dinos Chapman

The iconoclastic visual artist turns to music

Darwin Deez: five facts

The secrets of 'the Michael Jackson of indie rock'

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Nine famous fans pick their favourite Bad Seeds records

Alex Trimble: five facts

The Two Door Cinema Club frontman on karaoke and Metallica

Keeping it real: Paloma Faith

We quiz the retromaniac pop star on life in the real world

Time Out's Kraftwerk marathon

Eight albums of machine music, back-to-back

The best of J Dilla

For the seventh anniversary of the hip hop genius' death, we pick five essential cuts

Interview: Foals

The indie-rock kings on faith, survival and irony

The story behind 'Rumours'

Fleetwood Mac: drugs, divorce, and a masterpiece

5 things you didn't know about Conor Maynard

Listen up, Mayniacs: we discover some surprising facts about the Brighton boy.

2013's hottest new acts

Check out 12 new acts to watch out for this year

Reasons to love The Staves

See our five reasons to love this trio of Watford folk-rockers

Five things you need to know about The Eurovision Song Contest

Here's the lowdown on the biggest event in the Euro-pop calendar Popular gigs this week All That Jazz: The Golden Age Of British Popular Music 1919-1950 Material from the National Jazz Archive, providing an insight into the sociocultural impact of jazz in Britain during the forgotten age of British popular music. Live Jazz At The Rabbit Jazz music sessions in the cocktail bar featuring a variety of instrumentalists every week. Little Havana At this weekly Friday night session at Floridita, visiting Latin American bands and musicians play live Latin jazz, salsa, merengue and other hot grooves, followed by DJs until 3am. Jazz Skool The Jazz Skool quintet play hard bop, cool and soul jazz classics every Thursday night. Manic Street Preachers The Manics are back and sounding cinematic and thoughtful, after an angsty album (2009's 'Journal for Plague Lovers') and a big, glam pop-rock records ('Postcards from a Young Man' in 2010). The Welsh titans are talking big as usual, and claimed last year to have two albums in the pipeline. The first, 'Rewind the Film', is out now, so you can expect cuts from that alongside hits like 'A Design for Life', 'Motorcycle Emptiness', and probably some new, unheard material too. Trash Tuesday New York-styled open mic session for cabaret, musical and jazz singers. This Prismatic Room – A Bad Vibes Weekender This three-day mini-festival hosts 16 psychedelic bands in the Shack's brilliant gig room. Friday is headlined by

Five things you didn't know about Babymetal

The cult Japanese pop-metal sensation speak out about their fans, the Fox God and Gabrielle Aplin Aged between 15 and 17, Babymetal are three Japanese girls – Su-metal (middle), Yuimetal, and Moametal – who specialise in a heady mix of head-banging rock and sickly sweet ‘idol’ pop. Formed by mysterious producer Kobametal, they’ve been viewed 16 million times on YouTube and become a huge curiosity in the UK. We chatted to Su-metal, with Kobametal sat beside her.1. They’re on a mission from God. The Fox God, that is.‘The Fox God created Babymetal by coming to us in a dream and telling the three of us to form the band. It is because of the Fox God that we are able to be who we are and perform all over the world.’2. Before joining the band, they were metal virgins.‘I’d never heard of metal before. When I heard it I was really shocked – I was like, “Woah, there’s music like this that exists out there?”’3. They have no influences. None.‘Babymetal strive to be the only one, and this is something that’s very important to us. There’s no-one in particular that we look up to, because we strive to be something that’s never gone before.’4. Oddly for metallers, they like John Lewis Christmas ad soundtracks.‘I’ve always been a fan of ballads, and right now I’m studying English and listening to a lot of Western music. Gabrielle Aplin is one of my favourites.’5. Their fanbase doesn’t really gel.‘Our fans are made up of different groups of people: people who enjoy this Japanese idol scene, ver

Disclosure on Sam Smith’s ring, toilet reading and new album ‘Caracal’

Disclosure first made a name for themselves in 2013 when they brought dance music back into the charts with tracks like ‘White Noise’ and ‘Latch’ – featuring their close buddy Sam Smith. Still only in their early twenties, brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence have already toured the world, hosted their own festival and are now back in the UK to launch their second album, ‘Caracal’, a record that proves that they are much more than just an electronic dance act. From downtempo garage tunes to upbeat R&B and house tracks,  Disclosure have created an exciting record that all started with a bit of tinkling about on an old piano. When we meet in an office in Soho, Guy immediately puts me at my ease: ‘Don’t worry about the notes, they’ll soon be forgotten. We’re going to make this hilarious.’ He was right. Guy and Howard are normal twentysomething guys who want to have a laugh and do what they love away from the limelight. What’s your songwriting set-up? What gets you in ‘the zone’?Guy: ‘A single piano. That’s how it all starts. We’re pretty old-fashioned and traditional in that sense. Although we make dance music with lots of electronic equipment, most of the songs do stem from just sitting around a piano and writing.’Howard: ‘We need the shit piano, though. Like the one at our dad’s.’Guy: ‘Oh yeah, that one’s really shit. If you can make a song sound good on that, it must be an incredible song.’ ‘Sam Smith gets up and dances around his room to “The Sound of Music”. So, not James Bo

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