Thursday September 13th, 2012 Category: Expert tips
In the words of musical legend Bob Marley, “One good thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain” and indeed, one night with a good band can leave you feeling liberated with not a care in the world. Sound like what that special lady needs? Give her the gift of live music.
London has a long history of live music and of course, the capital is now home to the giants that are The O2 Arena and Wembley Stadium but it’s not all about big voices that reach the moon, outlandish costumes and fireworks –you can still go for something more low-key. There are small intimate venues where you can hear unknown (and some well known ones, if you’re lucky!) acts from all over the world for a fraction of the price you’d pay at a big commercial arena. If you’re looking for something more meaningful and private, these are the places you want to go.
A retro vibe?
The 100 Club on Oxford Street, West London has seen the likes of The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and numerous jazz musicians in the 1960s and 70s. The venue has remained unchanged since this time, lending it that old school, whimsical feel. It’s the place to go for jazz, blues and classic rock and with tons of restaurants nearby including Ponti’s Italian on John Princes Street and cocktail bar Moose London on Duke Street, it makes for the perfect retro evening.
More intimate perhaps?
For something a little smaller still, The Windmill pub in Brixton might be worth trying. Specialising in brand new artists from all over the world of all genres, Florence and the Machine, Biffy Clyro and Noah and the Whale have all graced its small stage. Nearby restaurants include the Upstairs Restaurant on Acre Lane, which is hidden away in a block of flats but boasts an impressive French-inspired menu or the Brixton Space Tapas Bar for something a little lighter. If discovering new music is her thing, then The Windmill could prove to be ideal.
All about the music
Probably the best place to hear obscure acts from London’s underground scene is Rhythm Factory on Whitechapel Road. A simple room with a bar at one end, a stage at the other and not much else, it’s a venue which really is all about the music. Regularly hosting electro-pop bands and drum and bass nights, Rhythm Factory is not a venue for the big names but just right for hearing artists you’ve never heard of. Nearby eateries have a largely Asian theme due to the ethnicity of the area but if that’s not her favourite, there is the Urban Bar down the street, serving American classics. Could be your solution to a perfect and unique gift.
If she’s a trendy indie Cindy, then there’s nowhere but The Dublin Castle in Camden. Indie legends Arctic Monkeys, The Killers and Supergrass have all paid visits to the venue, which is now an established indie rock haven. With four bands every night followed by DJs, you can be sure to have a fun night out at the place where there are also very reasonable drink deals. A selection of restaurants including Bento’s Chinese and Al Parco Pizzeria are situated on the same street Parkway, so there’s no need to go too far afield, in order to line your stomach!
Not in London? Don’t despair, rejoice!
For those not in London, every city has venues where you can kick back and enjoy new sounds as part of a special occasion. For Manchester, try the Ruby Lounge or Roadhouse. In Birmingham, it’s the Hare & Hounds or The Yardbird. Cardiff has the Buffalo Bar or The Globe and Edinburgh has Cabaret Voltaire or Sneaky Pete’s.