Is there anything better than seeing your favourite artist live? Add an iconic music venue as the setting and it just makes the show a little more magic.
This is the first in a series of posts detailing the most iconic music venues (and some personal favourites) around the world you need to catch a show, at least once in your life. First cab off the rank, my adopted home: The United Kingdom.
1. ROYAL ALBERT HALL, LONDON
Let’s begin with the super obvious. Synonymous with classical music, the Royal Albert hall also hosts more contemporary music. This is one of the most beautiful venues in the United Kingdom and certainly the most epic in London. If you can try to catch a show when the massive pipe organ is in use, it’s simply magical!
Where to find Royal Albert Hall: Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP
Gig listings and more info: royalalberthall.com
2. THE NEW ADELPHI CLUB, KINGSTON-UPON-HULL
One of my personal favourite rooms in the UK The Adelphi feels like your living room, It’s small and intimate, it’s sweaty, and it has hosted some of the most well-known bands in the world (Pulp, The Housemartins, Oasis, Fat Boy Slim, Green Day, Radiohead) which is why it’s so special. Do yourself a favour and make sure you see a show here if you find yourself in East Yorkshire.
Where to find the New Adelphi Club: 89 De Grey Street, Beverley Road, Kingston Upon Hull HU5 2RU
Gig listings and more info: theadelphi.com
3. KING TUT’S WAH-WAH HUT, GLASGOW
King Tut’s is LEGENDARY! Quite literally EVERYONE has played here. It opened in 1990, and ever since has been a champion for Scottish music and has always hosted some of the largest bands in the world (quite often before they ‘broke’). The stairs up to the band room feature a timeline of the bans that have played here over the years, some of the names are truly astonishing. No trip to Glasgow is complete without seeing a show here.
Where to find King Tut’s: 272A St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5RL
Gig listings and more info: kingtuts.co.uk
4. FORUM KENTISH TOWN, LONDON
The Forum holds a special place in my heart, it is the first place I saw a live act after moving to the UK back in 2009. Originally built and used as an Art Deco cinema in 1934, this is one of the best rooms in the UK and the audience energy is something else!
A quick aside: I spent my teens, and early twenties pouring over ‘import copies of Q and NME magazines, The forum was always where “all” the bands played back in the ’90s / early 2000’s or at least so I thought, which is why it was my first port of call.
Where to find Forum Kentish Town: 9-17 Highgate Road, London NW5 1JY
Gig listings and more info: O2 Forum Kentish Town
5. THE CAVERN CLUB, LIVERPOOL
The Cavern Club needs no introduction, famously hosting some of the Beatles earliest shows. A visit to this Liverpool gem is practically a pilgrimage site to Beatles fans.
Where to find The Cavern Club: 10 Mathew Street, Liverpool
Gig listings and more info: cavernclub.com
6. UNION CHAPEL , LONDON
An utterly stunning room, the Union Chapel in London is a very special place to catch a show. Not just a music venue, The Union Chapel is also an operational church and a charity drop-in centre for the homeless, with profits from their shows going towards their charitable work.
Where to find the Union Chapel: 19b Compton Terrace, London, N1 2UN
Gig listings and more info: unionchapel.org.uk
7. BARROWLANDS BALLROOM, GLASGOW
The Barrowland Ballroom, a venue of myth and legend in Glasgow for over 60 years. A place very close to my heart. My dad has stories about this place that are hilarious one of the tamer examples is that we fell down the same set of stairs 40 years apart HA! Barrowlands is an exquisite venue to see a show, the energy in the room is second to none, not that it’s important, but Barrowlands is also one of the prettiest rooms in the UK. On the way to the venue, cut through the wee park and you’ll see a pathway that lists all of the bands that have graced the stage over the years.
Where to find the Barrowlands: 244 Gallowgate, Glasgow, G4 0TT
Gig listings and more info: barrowland-ballroom.co.uk
8. HARE & HOUNDS, BIRMINGHAM
Located in King’s Heath just south of Brum city centre, hands down one of the best of independant venues in the UK, with gigs almost every night of the week and across all genres this really has something for everyone!
Where to find Hare & Hounds: High Street, Kings Heath, B14 7JZ
Gig listings and more info: hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk
9. RONNIE SCOTT’S, LONDON
It would be remiss of me (and my extremely eclectic music taste) not include a jazz venue in here. Ronnie Scott’s is THE place for Jazz in London, named after the legendary saxophonist. Ronnie Scott’s attracts both new artist and jazz legends from around the world – Often many stop by here on their way to Montreaux / North Sea Jazz Festival / London Jazz Festival and play warm shows here.
If jazz is your thing, do make a stop here, especially on an improv/ open mic night as you’ll never know who’ll stop by to play.
Where to find Ronnie Scott’s: 47 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4HT
Gig listings and more info: ronniescotts.co.uk
10. THE ROUNDHOUSE, LONDON
Once an old train shed, the Roundhouse was transformed into a venue 50 years ago and has been hosting everything from music to circus ever since. It remains to this day one of Londons most well-loved venues.
Where to find The Roundhouse: Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8EH
Gig listings and more info: roundhouse.org.uk
BONUS ICONIC VENUE: THE EDEN PROJECT, CORNWALL
Nestled into a large crater, the Eden Project is technically not a full-time music venue, but they do hold the ‘Eden Sessions’ series each summer in this epic location. The Eden Project is easily recognisable for its massive bio-domes (housing the world’s largest rainforest in ‘captivity’).
I saw Queens of the Stoneage here back in 2018 (Bjork also played the same year), it was nothing short of amazing. There is something enchanting about this venue that you can’t quite put into words, If you get a chance to see a show here….GO. The Eden Project is also fab for a day trip too
Where to find The Eden Project: Bodleva, Cornwall, PL24 2SG
Gig listings and more info: edenproject.com