London's best gig venues

Here are our top choices for gigs and concerts...

OK so for the most part you're there to see the talent, not to stare at the surroundings - but a venue can really help make for a great gig.

From sound quality, convenience of location, seating, atmosphere, security staff attitude and integrity of plastic pint glasses: we've taken everything into account when compiling our list of best convert venues.

See our picks below...

02 Academy, Brixton
211 Stockwell Road

AIL Says: We feel confident calling Brixton Academy an institution. It has brought more exciting music to London than anywhere else and continues to promote the best and most diverse live acts around. Big, bold and beautiful.

Barbican Centre
Silk Street

AIL Says: It is easy to get to the age where the thought of going to see live music just conjures up memories of aching calf muscles. But it doesn’t have to be that way, not when there is the Barbican waiting for you to plonk yourself into a comfy seat and witness art rock, indie and jazz. You may not be able to dance but in-seat butt wiggling is encouraged by the likes of Devendra Banhart, These New Puritans and Damon Albarn.

Royal Albert Hall
Kensington Gore

AIL Says: The grand dame of London concert venues, The Royal Albert Hall is a class act. All-seater and all style, there is more to the Kensington venue than the classical Proms. Contemporary artists perform from time to time so keep an eye on events listings.

Bush Hall
310 Uxbridge Road W12 7LJ
Region: Shepherd's Bush
Nearest Station: Shepherd's Bush Market (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: A lot of the older venues in London are blessed with a banked floor that allows the people at the back a look at the action on stage. Well, Bush Hall is not one of those places. The flatness is part of the charm, as is the guaranteed sight of groups of friends sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor before the start of shows. Bush Hall is the indie-darling of London concert venues.

  • OUR REVIEW 7/10
Union Chapel
Compton Terrace, Islington

AIL Says: Did we just say Bush Hall was the indie-darling of London concert Venues? Oops, perhaps we spoke too soon. The Union Chapel has its own credentials that are worth flexing on that point. The music policy is the standout factor for the Islington church. And despite not serving alcohol in the main hall people seem happy enough to sit in the pews and appreciate the action.

Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road

AIL Says: As London’s cutting-edge bastion of culture the South Bank Centre is inclined to deliver the eclectic musical output London needs from it. With its Meltdown festival and solo year-round shows it is one of the best places to see music. The range of music is diverse, the venue itself is as tidy as the music is well curated and the architecture is brutal, making it a must for your live music pleasure.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
The Tabernacle
34 Powis Square W11 2AY
Region: Notting Hill
Nearest Station: Westbourne Park (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: There is not much that you can say about The Tabernacle that can do it justice. The listed building is one of London’s concert gems. The large, grand escapist venue in Notting Hill is atmospheric to the point of being dreamlike. We promise.

The Roundhouse Camden
Farm Road, Camden

AIL Says: Once a railway engine shed, the Roundhouse is now one of London’s most extraordinary concert venues. The shape, size and depth of the place puts it in a live music bracket of its own. And The Roundhouse also hosts performing arts.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
Eventim Apollo
Queen Caroline Street

AIL Says: We once saw the Wu-Tang Clan at Hammersmith Apollo. It was terrible. But that is no reason to hate on the venue itself, which is one of those old, barely developed, classic concert venues. Built in the 1930’s as a music hall, it still has balcony seating, which is always good to go for if you value a view over dancing in a crowd.

275 Pentonville Road N1 9NL
Region: King's Cross
Nearest Station: King's Cross St. Pancras (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: The Scala was once a cinema, you know. Now it is the host of various club nights, art events and, importantly for this list, concerts. It is large enough to attract big names in music but it is also small enough to provide one of the most intimate live music environments you’re likely to see an international band in.

  • OUR REVIEW 6/10
  • USERS 7/10

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