Gigs in North London
Going out for an evening to see a live band or a solo performer is in many ways what London is all about. Since the 1960s the swinging city has really been at the epicentre of the music industry and there are only a few places in the world, such as New York, that could rival it. North London's music scene is as vibrant and varied as any other part of the capital and you can find just about any musical genre that you might imagine being performed on any given week. Much of the North London live music scene operates from pubs, but there are plenty of dedicated live music venues, too.
Just a few miles north of Central London and easily accessed via the Northern line tube service, Camden has one of the busiest and trendiest live music traditions of anywhere in London. Koko is a large music venue to the south side of Camden, near to Mornington Crescent tube station, which has regular live music events on most weekends before turning into something more of a nightclub.
Located closer to Camden Underground station, the Jazz Café on Parkway is one of London's leading jazz venues, probably second only to Ronnie Scott's in Soho. Here, you will often find jazz musicians of significant standing, but the venue is not entirely given over to jazz. From time to time you'll be treated to reggae artistes as well, some of whom are leading UK bands and others that are Jamaican artists who play the venue as part of a countrywide tour.
Further down Parkway is the Dublin Castle. This pub venue has a back room where you can play table tennis in the day but which turns into a live music venue every night of the week. On the weekends you can expect three, four or even five bands appearing on the bill. There are regular evenings that a given over to a particular genre of music and ska is a regular favourite. Just a door or two down from the Dublin Castle is a very cosy venue called the Green Note. This is a good place to go for acoustic music with a folky edge.
Dingwalls at Camden Lock is another mid-sized venue. Here, you get a mixture of acts and there are live standup comedy nights as well as music. It is always best to check the listings here, because the type of music on offer is extremely varied to say the least.
Another Camden live music venue worth mentioning - although there are many more - is the Electric Ballroom. Here you'll find that many up-and-coming London bands play before hitting the big time. More established acts also play here, but they tend to come from another part of the country.
Chalk Farm and Kentish Town
Just a little further to the north from Camden, Chalk Farm has some great musical hideaways. The Roundhouse is a very well known venue which was converted from a former railway depot in the 1960s. It is used by the BBC and others to broadcast concerts from. Over the years it has been used by acts such as Sir Paul McCartney to play in for the cameras. However, it is also a theatre, so check what is on before turning up.
A lesser-known intimate pub venue in the area is called the Fiddler's Elbow. The music put on here occurs every night of the week and on any given day you can expect about three bands on. Sometimes, the evening's theme will be hard rock, but you'll also get folk artists and solo singer-songwriters as well.
Closer to Kentish Town tube station than Chalk Farm lies the Forum. This is a former cinema which is now a large live music venue. Big name bands play here and many are drawn here because of its hey day in the 1980s as an alt rock venue. The Velvet Underground, Pixies and The Wedding Present all played here.
Elsewhere in North London
Alexandra Palace is one of North London's biggest live music venues. It is not used for music events regularly, but has a capacity that could match a big arena in another city. Popular artists like Morrissey have played in Alexandra Palace many times and it remains a regularly used venue for other forms of entertainment. The O2 Academy in Islington is another larger scale venue, although it could not match Alexandra Palace's capacity. There is live music put on here every night of the week. However, it is worth bearing in mind that most of the shows that are put on at weekends are for over 18s only.
The World's End is fantastic live music pub venue which is just a stone's throw from the heart of Finsbury Park. Situated only a short walk from the tube station, it is a favourite of Ed Sheeran among other famous singer-songwriters.
If you work in the North London business area of Camden or Holloway, you are practically at one of these venues already!