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London finally gets a new, purpose-built music venue… and it’s massive

Oliver Keens

When was the last time you went to a London music venue that was absolutely brand spanking new? New lights, new loos and new floors that don’t stick to your shoes like glue.

Magazine London is just that. It’s so fresh, so far it’s only had one bash in it: a party organised by Spanish clubbing crew Elrow and helmed by Skream. But don’t let the newness or its proximity to The O2 give you the wrong idea: Magazine crucially retains the feel of a classic London warehouse space. Which maybe isn’t a big surprise, given that it’s the latest venue from Broadwick Live and Venue Lab, the teams behind Printworks and The Drumsheds in Enfield. 

Where Printworks is an epic reclaiming of an existing space (a vast old printing press in Canada Water), Magazine is the exact opposite. It’s been built from scratch on Greenwich Peninsula – a huge sprawling development which its owners refer to as having a certain Manhattan-esque quality. 

Obviously that sounds like developer-speak. Except that, when you first encounter the view from the venue’s floor-to-ceiling windows and gawp at the Thames and the tall expanse of Canary Wharf right in front of you, it really does look like the views of Manhattan offered by bits of Brooklyn from across the East River.

All concerned know that one day the site, on what was previously wasteland between The O2 and the river, will become posh flats. Maybe in ten or 20 years or so. Yet there’s zero that feels temporary about Magazine.

Located about five minutes’ walk from North Greenwich station, in a large empty space that will itself be used for outdoor events with a capacity for 7,000 people, the building itself is a beauty. Clad inside and out uniformly in black (RAL 9005 to be exact), Magazine has the right feel for a music and nightlife venue: dimly lit, unfussy and quietly epic. The main room is big, able to take 3,000 punters, yet with a low, modest stage that won’t make the headliner feel like an exalted demi-god. Next to it is a smaller yet still vast 1,500 capacity space which hosts bars on music nights, and is blessed with both enormous windows on to the city and steel staircases that weigh 4.5 tonnes each. There’s also two VIP levels on a mezzanine, one boasting its own cute balcony which looks on to the riverside view.

The venue’s name was chosen to reflect its potential to be random and varied. It’s possible different events will style and dress the venue in a huge range of ways. Aside from music events, it’s also intended to be used for things like launches, corporate fairs and more. But from what we’ve seen, it has all the makings of a really vital space for London’s underserved music and clubbing fans, all desperate for a purpose-built place to cut loose. 

Magazine is at Ordnance Crescent, SE10 0JH. Find out what’s coming up there on the website.

Check out Time Outs guide to London’s best music venues.

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