Top Ten Venues

By london_ken Last edited 156 months ago
Top Ten Venues

According to Drowned in Sound, The Independent's produced a list of its top ten venues. We say 'according to' just because we've yet to see it in The Independent ourselves but the DiS article was a decent enough excuse for Londonist to debate within ourselves our favourite venues.

The Independent list as quoted by DiS is below. We've put the London venues in bold.

1. Eden Project

2. Glasgow Barrowlands

3. Sheffield Leadmill

4. Belfast Limelight

5. London Bush Hall

6. Manchester Apollo

7. Nottingham Rock City

8. Leeds Cockpit

9. London Astoria

10. London Somerset House

The first thing Londonist staff noticed was the absence of the Brixton Academy. Could it be suffering from the association with a certain brand of lager? Yes, it's a big venue but that shouldn't disqualify it from the list, especially as it's got an effective slope which means Londonist has never had any problems getting a decent view. Plus it has those balconies which never fails to make us think of Romeo and Juliet (the play, not the Dire Straits song).

There was one dissenting voice speaking against the Brixton Academy. This same voice spoke up in favour of the Islington Academy

The ICA surprisingly drew a consensus thumbs-up view from the Londonist team ("Like being in a Borg cube but without the cheesy lighting."), even ignoring the extreme bias shown by one staffer who works part-time at the ICA.

Of the other venues featured in the original list posted on DiS, only the London Astoria featured in Londonist's own straw poll, with the other commonly-liked venues being the Electric Ballroom, Mean Fiddler/LA2 and the Barfly.

We'd be interested to see whether our readers' views concur with our own so feel free to make use of the comment boxes.

Last Updated 05 May 2005

Robert John Kaper

Brixton Academy is very nice indeed, I'm looking forward to seeing Weezer and Lenny Kravitz there. It doesn't have the best sound, though. But in the end I prefer smaller gigs anyway (Underworld rules!).

Mean Fiddler? Seriously? I truly don't like it, but I have to admit I wasn't feeling too well the last time I went there.


I'm surprised at no Brixton Academy - the Apollo in Manchester (and the Islington Academy) is sponsored by Carling, so it can't be that. The sound is always good, even near the back, and like you say, the slope is effective.

I'd nominate La Scala, especially as a football venue...


That's a good point about the Manchester Apollo being Carling. Not such a good point about the Islington Academy as it didn't make the original list.

Scala is a good call. Always have lovely memories of that place.

I'm surprised the Leadmill got in. I always thought it was a bit of a hole, although a good venue to play International Superstar Soccer (or was it the FIFA game?).


Incidentally, here's what it said about the London venues:


Bush Hall

London W12

Formerly a dance hall, a soup kitchen and a snooker club, since 2000, Bush Hall has been London's best-kept concert secret. Chandeliers drip from its ceiling and bands, from REM to Kings of Leon, have used the space for secret shows. Forthcoming highlights include Nina Nastasia (10 May) and Mark Mulcahy (8 June).



London WC2

You can take your pick of venues this size in London, but the Astoria stands out for its central location and history. Built as a pickle factory and converted to a nudie club, the Astoria has also served time as a television studio (Jools Holland's Juke Box Jury was filmed here). Since then, everyone from Nirvana to Eminem has graced the Astoria's stage.


Somerset House

London WC2

On a summer's evening, as the sun sets over the Thames, there is no finer place in the world to listen to music than in the central square of this 18th-century edifice. This year's line-up includes Doves (6 July), Bright Eyes (11 July) and Bloc Party and the Kills (12 July).


ISS I think. If only cloudylemonade was online...


Alas, the domain name has expired and it's a pain to renew. might be registered though, unless someone reads this and decides to get it instead.

Can you make out which game it is from this pic?


No idea. Looks like 0-0 though, England vs France?


Yep, England v France. I was France, won 2-0, I think. "Proper fucking goals, every time!" was Gorton's comments, I believe.


Yeah, dead on! Not that you remember it smugly, or anything.


My favorite London concert venue is a dead heat between Shepard's Bush Empire and the Union Chapel in Islington. Both have wonderful acoustics and intimate settings that allow to feel engaged in the show.

Robert John Kaper

Wasn't it 1-0 for England up to the 89th, ending in a 1-2 defeat? Maybe that's why for some reason I didn't injure myself after PSV Eindhoven-Milan or last night's Alkmaar-Lissabon, I guess I'm used to teams I like getting beaten in the last minute.


Robert - sorry, that was a virtual game of football that Nick was referring to, in which I beat Lee Gorton of Alfie 2-0, playing as France to his England. But thanks for reminding us of Emile Heskey's sabotage to our tournament plans.

Gutted about PSV. Absolutely heart-breaking.


What are you people talking about? For a city with so many wonderful gigs, London has some appalling venues.

The Shepherds Bush Empire is terrible - really poor acoustics that amplify the sound of the prats chatting away at the back, and a stage that's hard to see properly even if you're six feet tall.

The Astoria has similar problems, and has always looked like a bit of a death-trap to me. And the Mean Fiddler is appalling - that ridiculous platform in the middle, which means people at the side are standing below people in the middle. Lunacy.

The Apollo has no atmosphere whatsoever, and is remarkably grimy.

Brixton is actually one of my favourite London venues - good views for almost everyone, great sound. Shame about the sponsorship/overpriced beers/wankish staff.

The Union Chapel was the best venue in London, but sadly it's now closed for gigs. The Bush Hall is nice enough, but it is just an empty, ornate room.