London is widely recognised as the cultural and musical heart of the United Kingdom. There are many great cities to see live music, but it's London that's the melting pot of every genre. For music lovers, London can be the city of dreams.
There are tonnes of events and concerts that happen every day of the year. From open mics to big-time arena tours and festivals, to those gigs you come to London exclusively for.
That's why we've pulled together a plum guide to some of the best in contemporary live music venues in London.
LONDON'S BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUES
Once an artist has broken out of the constant circle of supporting others or playing pub gigs, it's time for the bigger leagues. These music venues are spots you've likely heard of, as music fans, over the years.
Jazz Café: The Jazz Café defines itself as being a genre-defying venue for jazz, soul, and reggae. Rarely does a venue accurately peg its own vibe, but the Jazz Café has done it.
Address: 5 Parkway, NW1 7PG
Electric Ballroom: Historical rock music venue by night, indoor market by day, the Electric Ballroom has been in its spot beside Camden Town station since the '30s.
Address: 184 Camden High St, NW1 8QP
The Roundhouse: At a crucial time in music history, the Roundhouse hosted the likes of The Doors and Jimi Hendrix. Since its refurbishment, plenty of the world's biggest contemporary bands have played here.
Address: Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8EH
100 Club: One of the city's best jazz, blues, and northern soul venues. Over its years in operation, this small basement has played stage to the likes of Billie Holiday and the Sex Pistols.
Address: 100 Oxford St, London W1D 1LL
Royal Festival Hall & Queen Elizabeth Hall: Both part of the Southbank Centre - making up the cultural triad of the nearby Tate Modern and National Theatre - these two eclectic venues have hosted some of the hottest acts.
Address: Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX
Somerset House: Neo-classical arts centre that provides a vast array of live music, art exhibitions, and great wine. (Insider Tip: Somerset House is a place you could spend your entire day.)
Address: Strand, WC2R 1LA
Bermondsey Arts Club: Underground art deco hideaway that serves top, originally crafted cocktails and live jazz to enliven the soul.
Address: 102a Tower Bridge Rd, SE1 4TP
Royal Opera House: What it says on the tin, the location of the Royal Opera House has been at the forefront of operatic performances for hundreds of years. (Insider Tip: Catch a free lunchtime recital on Mondays at 1 pm at the Swiss Church on Endell Street.)
Address: Bow St, WC2E 9DD
Islington Assembly Hall: The assembly hall once hosted ballroom dance and tea party events from the 20s up until the 80s. Since 2010 it's become one of the most exciting live music venues in the Capital.
Address: Upper St, N1 2UD
Union Chapel: Performers raise their game when playing Union Chapel. This beautiful, gothic church is breath-taking in every aspect and hosts an eclectic array of musicians.
Address: Compton Terrace, N1 2UN
Troxy: Located down the road from the legendary George Tavern (where you should stop for a pint) the Troxy is a venue in a stunning art deco building that hosts incredible musicians.
Address: 490 Commercial Rd, E1 0HX
Servant Jazz Quarters: Despite its name, this small, exquisite live music venue in Dalston is the place to go to experience London's thriving music scene. (But also amazing jazz).
Address: 10A Bradbury Street, N16 8JN
Barbican Centre: The London Symphony Orchestra is the core of the Barbican's musical roster. Once you get past the brutalist architecture, this arts complex shows why London is one of the best cities when it comes to art and culture.
Address: Silk St, EC2Y 8DS
The Troubadour: Something of a West London institution and hangout for creative intellectuals, the Troubadour has been one of the hottest live music spots since the 50s.
Address: 263-267 Old Brompton Rd, SW5 9JA
The Tabernacle: The Tabernacle's program primarily centres around the arts, talks, and culture. There are often gigs and concerts there and you've never had gig food like it. (Trust us!)
Address: 34-35 Powis Square, W11 2AY
Royal Albert Hall: Setting of the last night of the Proms, the Royal Albert Hall is a must-see venue for those who love opera and classical music. What more can be said, really?
Address: Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP
SOUTH OF THE RIVER
WC Wine and Charcuterie: Located beneath Clapham Common tube station, this cozy, hidden wine bar hosts live music nights on Sundays and Mondays. WC is a Plum Guide must-see.
Address: Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AA
Address: 211 Stockwell Rd, SW9 9SL
Bunga Bunga: A fancy pizzeria cooked up and owned by the Inception Group. Its restaurant is incredibly vegetarian-friendly, and there's a host of live music. (Insider Tip: Avoid the nights when there's karaoke - unless you're into that!)
Address: 37 Battersea Bridge Rd, SW11 3BA
FESTIVALS IN LONDON
- All Points East: One of the newest of London's festivals, All Points East is a 10-day event that takes place in Victoria Park, beginning and ending with live music. To give you a clue of its size, some of 2018's artists include Björk, Nick Cave, and The National!
- British Summertime: 2017's Hyde Park Festival included music icons like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (featuring Stevie Nicks), Phil Collins, and Elbow. A day out in Hyde Park is always welcome, but a day out in Hyde Park with live music? That's something else.
- Kew the Music: Kew the Music picnic concerts are a great way to mix seeing Kew Gardens with some live music by the likes of Jools Holland and The Human League. Sing away the remaining summer nights, surrounded by beauty.
- Meltdown: Meltdown is an annual curated festival that takes place at the Southbank Centre. Previous curators of the event have included David Byrne, Yoko Ono, and John Peel. Every year is different, that's only one of the things that makes it so blinking special.