It’s good to go out and hear live music. No matter whether it’s classical, rock, punk, rap, jazz, or whatever makes your ears ring, there’s nothing like catching the vibrations of the sound as it hits you. While London certainly has some great larger music venues such as the O2 Arena, the Roundhouse, and Royal Albert Hall, sometimes it’s better to find a smaller place. A place where the sound reverberates off the walls, the energy of the crowd is more intimate, and where you can practically reach out and touch the musicians (though for safety reasons, don’t try). If you want to catch an act at a smaller venue in London, we suggest trying one of these five places.
This vegetarian restaurant in Camden Town is also one of London’s best small venues for great musical acts. Heading downstairs in the restaurant will take you to a little room (and we mean little) with a bar and a stage. Don’t let the size fool you, though, as Green Note has won several awards from Time Out and other publications for being one of the best venues in Camden Town and the whole of London. You can catch everything from folk to jazz here, but the size of the room means you’ll need to buy a ticket for some shows.
Hidden within the Royal Albert Hall is another, much smaller and intimate venue that is Café Verdi. Named for the great Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi, the Italian restaurant in the hall doesn’t just serve food, but on Fridays, it welcomes any number of music acts including classical trios, opera singers, and other groups. In addition to Friday dinner, you can sometimes catch acts at afternoon tea and brunch.
Wilton’s Music Hall
The only small venue on this list to be Grade II listed (the RAH is Grade I), Wilton’s Music Hall opened in 1859 and today sees a variety of acts from comedy to theater to music. Wilton’s has a history as varied and interesting as the acts that perform there, and it reopened as a performance venue in 1997 and then was restored in 2016. Check out the hall’s upcoming events to see what is coming. As mentioned, the acts tend to vary considerably, so you’re not like to see the same performance twice in one week.
The 21st Century has seen a great repurposing of industrial buildings as those industries have gone extinct or moved their operations out of the city. Village Underground was once a warehouse in Shoreditch before it was converted into an arts center where the main part of the warehouse is now a concert and performance venue and the former train carriages on top are now artists’ studios. Whether you’re there to go clubbing or to take in a show from an up-and-coming artist, Village Underground is the kind of smaller venue that can accommodate you.
The 100 Club
Even World War II couldn’t stop London’s desire for music when The 100 Club opened its doors in 1942. It started out as a swing music and dancing venue when it first opened but has seen a variety of groups pass through its doors from jazz to The Rolling Stones. It can fit maybe 350 people tops and still plays host to some great acts of all kinds. The 100 Club even hosts weekly events such as Blues Week, so check out the upcoming schedule and get in early to catch your favorites.