Featured venues

Here is some information about some of the iconic venues featured in reviews in this blog. Click on titles to link directly to each venue’s own website. I’ve also got some info on venues under threat on the Music Campaigns page.

The Borderline – London West End
While numerous other live venues in the West End have closed their doors, this 300-capacity venue has held its open now for over 20 years, always with a stirling line-up of acts throughout the year.

Cecil Sharp House – Camden
Cecil Sharp House, the iconic home of English folk music, is a real delight. The main hall is in need of a bit of TLC these days (there is a restoration appeal) but when the house lights dim it provides a wonderfully atmospheric setting.

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De La Warr Pavilion – Bexhill-on-Sea
If you think you’ve seen the run of charming but fairly samey faded seafront concert venues, Bexhill-on-Sea’s De La Warr Pavilion is something quite spectacular. A beautiful and lovingly restored 1930s modernist building.

The Garage – Highbury
North London is blessed with some excellent mid-sized live music venues, the Garage being just one of them, and if they continue to have rock acts on of this calibre it won’t be long before I’m back there, I’m sure.

The Green Note – Camden
A venue no bigger than the average trendy north -London bistro which is pretty much what it is except that they’ve also built up a reputation for hosting some top folk acts.

Hastings Pier
Many big-name musical acts played Hastings Pier in the 60s and 70s and it’s great to see that spirit being evoked as the revived and refurbished pier plays host to bands like The Levellers. The big difference nowadays is that lacking a concert pavilion today’s events are more like mini-festivals, replete with wristbands, an outdoor stage, beer marquees and portable loos. But the pier is a fantastic open space and makes for a brilliant setting for a small but perfectly-formed festival.
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Horsebridge Centre – Whitstable
A beautifully constructed contemporary arts centre close to the seafront.
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Jazz Café – Camden
When I first moved to London twenty-odd years ago and eagerly began scouring listings magazines the Jazz Café always sounded to me like it must surely be one of the capital’s coolest venues with unimaginable levels of sophistication for a northern boy like me. It isn’t. It’s pretty much like any other well-run small music venue.

Kings Place – Kings Cross
Kings Place is a plush new contemporary arts venue near Kings Cross.The venue is a beautiful modern performance space, situated underneath the Guardian/Observer HQ.

Kino Teatre – St Leonards
With its shopfront facade and trendy gallery-cum-foyer you could be forgiven for thinking there’s something nice but not particularly unique about St Leonards Kino Teatre; but step inside the main auditorium and you are immediately transported into a beautiful dome-ceilinged 1913 cinema that’s been given a pleasing shabby-chic makeover.

Koko – Camden
Koko is a great venue. It’s been through many different incarnations over the years and although it’s been sympathetically restored in a way that shows of its Edwardian-era music hall grandeur, it’s done in a way that works really well as a rock venue.

Leo’s Red Lion – Gravesend
“It’s as rough as hell but the rock nights are good fun,” the woman in the cab office tells me as I wait to get taken to the Red Lion. Buried away in an industrial estate along Gravesend’s river frontage, it’s a traditional boozer with a large, cavernous old-fashioned function room that’s been given a makeover as a rock venue and a decent-sized stage put in.

New Cross Inn – New Cross
The New Cross Inn, which I spent many nights in when I was a student over the road at Goldsmiths, has undergone something of a makeover since my student days. The big Victorian circular bar, which dominated half the pub and always made the experience of seeing a band or even the DJ an extremely cramped affair, is no more. This creates a lot more room in the pub

Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Shepherd’s Bush Empire is a wonder in itself. It’s always great to be inside this old Edwardian music hall, seeing it given renewed life as one of London’s iconic rock venues.

The Social – London West End
The Social is a long, narrow basement bar in London’s west end with a tiny, tiny stage at the far end.

St Mary in the Castle – Hastings
Built into the cliff face in the 19th century as a church, it fell into disuse and disrepair in the mid twentieth century but was saved, given an extensive refurbishment and re-opened as a quite magical arts venue in the late 90s.

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