Gigs in West London
West London has its own music scene that is just as an important part of the city's culture as anywhere else. In central west London, around the West End and Soho, there are a number of popular small venues, such as the 100 Club, which has built its reputation in the 1970s as a place where you could catch all of the newly discovered punk bands. There are quite a few of these 'small and intimate' places crammed into the central part of the capital, but when you head a bit further west the live music venues are not so tightly packed. That isn't to say that West London doesn't have a live music scene of note. In fact, the truth is far from it.
Kensington and Chelsea
The Royal Albert Hall is a world class auditorium, used for everything from classical performances to one-off sporting events and other notable affairs. Each summer it is home to the world's greatest serious musical festival - the proms - which have been a feature here every year since 1941. At other times it is used for popular music as well and artists who have played here include David Gray, Eric Clapton and Don McLean.
Not far from this well-established auditorium is a relatively new music venue, called Under The Bridge. It is located within a complex that is part of Stamford Bridge, home to Chelsea Football Club. Situated on Fulham Road, the 500 person venue has been popular with artists since it launched. Peter Andre had his most recent album launch party here and the venue has put on gigs by Ellie Goulding in the past, among others.
The Hammersmith Apollo is one of London's larger venues and can hold over 5,000 people at capacity. Situated on Queen Caroline Street, it is a Grade II listed building which has a charming art deco exterior. About ten years ago, the stalls seats were upgraded to make them removable. This means that now some concerts have full seating, but others will have standing only in the stalls area. Many bands use the venue to make live recording which they later release on CD or DVD, for example Kate Bush, Kings of Leon and Dire Straits.
The Hammersmith Ram is a pub venue on an altogether smaller scale. It has regular jam nights on a Wednesday where amateur musicians turn up to play together. On most Sundays you will find traditional Irish folk music being played in the pub. If you prefer blues, the try Brook's Blues Bar which has been building a reputation for the last ten years or so as a really good venue for promoting lesser known artists from around the world.
Further north in West London is the biggest stadium in the country. Wembley stadium is used for international football fixtures, but it is also a place where large scale concerts are held occasionally. In the same area is Wembley Arena which is also used for live music, but on a much more regular basis. In recent times, a girl band like The Saturdays is just as likely to play it as a rock act like Bryan Adams. It was built way back in 1934, but is still going strong. When it is set up in concert mode, it can hold an audience of 12,500.
The Shepherd's Bush Empire, which is sponsored by O2, is another of West London's Grade II listed music venues. For some time it was used by the BBC to make recordings of light entertainment shows, but it became a dedicated live music venue in 1993 following an extensive refurbishment. At full capacity it can hold 2,000 people and it has been used by some bands to make live recordings intended for wide release.
Bush Hall is another charming live music venue which is also in the neighbourhood. Amy Winehouse, Alanis Morissette and Van Morrison have all played here. Built in 1904, it was used as a soup kitchen during the Blitz. It is now used for meetings, conferences and private parties as well as live music.
It's not a long drive from Chiswick, Kensington, Ealing or other common West London work areas to any of these venues, so consider heading over after work to relax or listen to something new.