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5 of London's Most Atmospheric Live Music Venues

You know that moment when you hear a new band live for the first time and it sounds so good that you spend the whole evening dreaming about learning to play the bass guitar, quit your 9 to 5 job and run away to a different lifestyle? We hear ya.

We've got memories aplenty of listening to our fave bands in dingy venues with sticky floors. But London's music scene is evolving, with speakeasies, churches, underground spaces (literally) and front rooms joining in to showcase top and emerging musical talent. Here are our top picks of London's music venues with an atmosphere so electric, they'll give you goosebumps.

By Clare Ebberson

Cafe Oto | Dalston

This intimate Dalston venue is home to unusual, alternative and up and coming jazz. Linger over a lazy lunch with Persian dishes from the Zardosht residency and prepare yourself for a unique night of music. The last time we were there we discovered doom jazz (yes, it's a thing) before following a matching jazz band down the street...

Wiltons' Music Hall | Tower Hill

Expect the unexpected at Wilton's, where we've been greeted by everything from swing to Morris dancers. Allegedly the oldest music hall in the world, the place oozes legacy and is pretty damned atmospheric. Sip a G&T and listen to a set in the Mahogany bar (upcoming music includes jazz and rockabilly) or enjoy the acoustics of the grand auditorium at one of their eclectic events.

Nightjar | Hoxton

Descending down into a bar with decadent 1920’s decor also pushes our buttons, but especially so in the case of Nightjar: it’s an award-winning, world-leader in terms of cocktails. There's live music every night, so you can enjoy the candlelit surroundings and extensive cocktail menu whilst toe-tapping to swing and jazz. Be warned - tables are like gold dust and your moves may become progressively less slick as the evening gets boozier…

Union Chapel | Islington

Here you can discover new bands whilst perched on a pew, surrounded by vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows. When else are you going to go to a gig in a venue that's still a working church and host to a project for the homeless? The venue has previously hosted the likes of Beck, Amy Winehouse and Noel Gallagher and you can feel smug about doing your bit too as all the profits made go towards restoring the Chapel.


Sofar Sounds | Various Locations
Like being the first to know about the hottest new bands? Sofarsounds features hand picked, up and coming musical talent in unique spaces. That might even mean a Londoner's living room (you can't get much more intimate than that). Sofarsounds is all about the music with phones and cameras banned during the gig so you can soak up the atmosphere tech free. The small guest lists mean it's not unusual to meet the artists after the gig, so who knows, you could be best mates with the next Jason Mraz by the end of the night.