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London's Best Live Music Venues

Fancy going to a gig? From full-on stadium rock concerts to a DJ set in an East London basement, this guide will help you decide where to go.





Big in London
The Barbican Hall at the Barbican Centre and the Royal Festival Hallís auditoriums donít only host classical concerts, as their acoustics are also put to good use by performers of other genres. The South Bank Centreís annual Meltdown Festival sees an eclectic programme of art, film and music put together by a different artist each year taking place at the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall; past curators have included Ray Davies, Massive Attack and David Bowie. On a smaller scale, but equally impressive is the majestic Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush, folk and world music gigs are the main choice here. And itís becoming de rigeur to mismatch musical genres to venues, which is why British grime rapper Wiley has performed at the Royal Opera House, and the classical night Limelight sees mini orchestras crammed onto a tiny stage at the dingy 100 Club on Oxford Street, a legendary venue more accustomed to up and coming indie bands that gave the Sex Pistols and The Clash their first London gigs.

We Will Rock You
Good old fashioned stadium rocking still takes place at the newly rebuilt Wembley Arena. Take Thatís comeback tour alighted here, and mainstream rock acts like Muse are the sort of bands you can expect to find yourself standing around listening to along with 90,000 others. o2, who seem to be encroaching on the capitalís live music scene with the determination of a hungry squirrel (they now own the Shepherdís Bush Empire, Islington Academy and Brixton Academy) have their own stadium experience at the o2 Centre, with an arena that accommodates 20,000. Everyone from Snoop Dogg to Cliff Richard perform here, as long as they have a big enough following. Before the performance you can eat at one of the refined eateries of the o2 Centre, like Nandoís or TGI Fridays.

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