London’s live music scene has a proud heritage, taking in the post-war jazz boom which in turn begat the modernist movement, the coffee bar scene that spawned Britain’s own mutant version of rock and roll – not to mention punk, and its many offspring. Today the city promises an eclectic choice of destinations for the discerning gig-goer. Fluid London has had a strokey beard meeting and decided on what we perceive as the Top 10 best bars pubs and clubs in London for live music. Now, let's rock!
Brixton / Bar / Club /
Live music in Brixton - The original Academy also happens to be the best. It's a big old place, but a much more appealing, authentic proposition than the enormodomes that are one step up the food chain. Its played host to everyone from the Smiths, the Pistols and the Clash, to the Arctic Monkeys and the Mighty Boosh, but the Academy wears its reputation lightly.
Ain't Nothing But Blues
Soho / Bar /
Live music in Soho - Since opening in October 1993, Ain't Nothin But has brought the Blues to the people. Situated immediately behind Hamleys / Liberty in Regent Street, it is probably the only authentic club outside of the States providing live Blues every night of the week.
Angel & Islington / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Cuisine: Bar
Live music in Angel - The Lexington has won over London's gig-goers with the promise of good times, a top range of booze and even better music. Bourbon (of which there are 80 types), scotch and American craft brewery beers feature strongly on the drinks menu, suggesting that John Lee Hooker's spirit lives on; the high calibre live music in the 300-capacity club upstairs also sticks faithfully to the Americana theme: mainly guitar focused; always rock n' roll, indie or hip-hop music.
Le QuecumBar & Brasserie
Battersea / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Cuisine: Brasserie
Live music in Battersea - A unique wine bar from a bygone era: pre-war France, with Hot Club gypsy jazz, invented by Django Reinhardt. Based in London they offer the best in live music and gypsy jazz. They add a twist to the traditional jazz club by pairing Parisian charm with a love and knowledge of fine wines, all wrapped up in the spirit of Django.
Camden / Bar /
Live music in Camden - The fact that this pub doubles up as a venue where bands (from Madness to newbies) play is well-known to most bods. Looking like it took interior design tips from the local working men's club (fly posters, shoddy-looking furniture and a coupla old boys thrown in for authenticity), this low-key pub has a large back room where you can watch bands play for about £5 entry.
The Wilmington Arms
Clerkenwell / Bar / Cuisine: Pub
Live music in Clerkenwell - The Wilmo boasts one of the best little live rooms around, and is well served by a host of DIY promoters, putting on some of best off-kilter indie pop nights in London. It's a step up from your typical spit and sawdust venue, but the cracking jukebox and Jonny Cash posters suggest these fellers really know their rock'n'roll onions.
Brixton / Bar / Cuisine: Pub
Live music in Brixton - The Hootananny opened in Brixton in September 2007, replacing The Hobgoblin. The Hootananny is a Scottish themed pub with a Thai restaurant and has live music almost every night of the week as well as a late license on Friday and Saturday running till 3am.
Kensington / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: European
Live music in Earl's Court - The Troubadour is a proper café. The last 50's coffee house in Earls Court. Downstairs is the Club where Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon (amongst others) all played in the '60s. It has a great programme of live music and poetry.
O2 Academy Islington
Angel & Islington / Bar / Club /
If your idea of cool is plinky-plonky piano music and overpriced champagne cocktails, don't go here. Seriously, this isn't the venue for you. If you can put up with sticky floors, and teenagers wearing too much eyeliner, maybe it is. You'll feel like the oldest person in the world for about an hour until the watery lager kicks in, then you'll have a great laugh, and dance drunkenly at the sell-out club nights.
Shepherds Bush / Bar / Club /
In the public toilet pantheon, this one-time pissoir must've been right up there; apparently, it was here that the Dirty Old Man, Wilfred Bramble (or Old Man Steptoe, to my dad), was caught procuring a young man's services. It's a slightly different setup these days - if a relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff and a top notch mix of live music, comedy and burlesque sounds up your street, you'll fit in here like a hand into a fingerless glove.
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