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The best live music in London

 
 

From charming old churches to astounding mega-stadiums, London is filled with iconic live music venues. These are our favourites.

 

02nd December 2019

Red Carnation Hotels

London’s live music scene is legendary. The city’s eclectic collection of venues ranges from 20,000-capacity super-stages to intimate cellars and historic churches. Here, we travel to the capital’s most charismatic venues, easily accessed from any of our six London properties and chosen for their well-curated programmes.

Live music set in London

Royal Albert Hall

Just a stone's throw from The Milestone Hotel & Residences, the Royal Albert Hall was consecrated in 1871 by Queen Victoria for the late Prince Albert. The Neoclassical wonder has been a London landmark ever since and has long been our treasured partner. Its exterior is an iconic combination of six million red bricks, with a mosaic frieze depicting the global evolution of arts and sciences.

The Royal Albert Hall mosaic frieze

 

More impressive are the performances housed within. Ranging from spectacular classical orchestra to roof-raising solo sopranos, its acts are some of the world’s most sought-after. Not to be missed are the hall’s popular music scores, combining cinematic screenings of beloved classics, such as The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, with live orchestral accompaniment. During Christmas, Handel’s Messiah is an inspiring must-see, its Hallelujah chorus reverberating across the hall’s expansive 83-metre axis.

The Royal Albert Hall exterior

Southbank Centre

The Southbank Centre is outstanding and prolific in equal measure. Every year, over 4,000 performances grace its many halls, half of them free to attend. Its cultural offerings range from acclaimed theatre to classical literature recitals and, of course, some of the best live music in London. Jazz, blues, rock and classical, as well as international genres all feature.

The centre’s musical highlight is the annual Meltdown festival, masterminded by a specially chosen curator each year. The curator brings their own artistic vision with an exceptionally diverse array of talent. In 2020, it’s the revolutionary Grace Jones in the driving seat.

The annual meltdown festival © Southbank Centre/Victor Frankowski

St Martin-in-the-Fields

Just off Trafalgar Square, the jewellery-box church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields is a charming example of English Neoclassical design, featuring gorgeous white-and-gold interiors and a striking contemporary installation, the East Window. The church is a beacon for ecclesiastical music, its acoustics amplifying the resonance of attending choirs. In addition, some of London’s best chamber music ensembles play throughout the year, with Mozart’s Requiem a poignant masterpiece in Advent. The church’s atmospheric crypt, meanwhile, specialises in jazz, with dedicated performances every Wednesday.

St. Martin-in-the-fields off Trafalgar Square

The O2

The O2 is London’s premier live music venue. Inaugurated by an explosive Bon Jovi concert in 2007, its immense stage has gone on to host the biggest contemporary stars in music from Beyoncé to One Direction. Seating 20,000, the space transforms with every concert, bringing together an impressive sound system with custom-built palatial sets and explosive light displays.

A sell-out concert at The O2

Boutique venues

London’s unique live music scene is espoused by several boutique venues specialising in distinct genres. For jazz, nothing quite compares to the intimate New Orleans feel of Camden’s Jazz Cafe. Combining a first-floor balcony restaurant overlooking the prominent ground floor stage, it’s an ideal venue for relaxed evening jazz.

Live set at the Jazz Cafe

 

Equally as cherished is St. Pancras Old Church, one of the capital’s oldest sites of Christian worship that possibly dates back to the 4th century. The church’s modern music history kicked off with a 1960s Beatles photoshoot outside its iconic portal. More recently, the historic building was set up as a 100-audience live music venue, with big names such as Sam Smith and Tom Odell performing intimate concerns from its bema.

St. Pancras Old Church exterior

 

Enjoy the thrill of live music in the British capital from any one of Red Carnation Hotels’ centrally located London destinations.

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