Rock out for less than £10 at these cheap live music venues.
By Steph Dye (follow Steph on Twitter: @HelloIAmSteph)
London is home to a wealth of live music, featuring every genre from punk to pop, country to classical and garage to Gregorian chants. Whatever your particular preference, we bet you will be able to find it somewhere in the city. Make sure your musical inclinations aren’t halted by being cash poor and check out some of these great live music spots that all admit for less than a tenner and who knows, you might even spot the next Oasis or Paloma Faith.
Whilst all of theses live music venues charge less than £10, some of them are more expensive than others. Check out the ‘£’ icon for a rough guide: £ = free or just a couple of quid for entry | ££ = mid-range, but still definitely giving you plenty of change from a tenner | £££ = Closer to the £10 mark.
The Macbeth | Hoxton | £££
What is it?: A music and arts pub that is over a century old (and haunt of Charles Dickens), The Macbeth is well worth it’s slightly pricier entrance fee. Having once played host to the likes of The Cribs and Example to name but a few, this greatly respected stalwart of the London music scene is a haven for talent spotting.
When to go: Lots of events take place every week, so check out the ‘What’s On’ page for details.
Where is it?: 70 Hoxton Street, N1 6LP
The Spice of Life | Soho | ££
What is it?: Another historic steadfast of the music scene, The Spice of Life has been around since 1570 and has remained a tavern ever since, providing a regular haunt for both the folk movement of the 60s and a punk stronghold in the 70s. It now hosts a variety of musical genres, including jazz, swing, indie and dance.
When to go: If jazz is your thing, head down on Wednesday lunchtime (12.30-2.30) for the All Star Lunchtime Jazz sessions. If you are more into indie-rock, visit on a Friday or Saturday night (check out the website in advance) for live, rising talents of the indie scene with ‘Hotvox Presents’.
Where is it?: 6 Moor Street, Soho, W1D 5NA
Kansas Smitty’s | Hackney | ££
What is it?: Bringing the Southern staples of swing and mint juleps to an intimate basement below Broadway Market is Kansas Smitty’s. From the live house band to a whole roster of surprise special guests, any fans of jazz are likely to be Kansas smitten with this place within a matter of minutes.
When to go: On Wednesdays, ‘Basement Tapes’ features a ‘pic’n’mix style line-up of house band members and special guests, joining forces for a rip-roaring night of fun (plus, if you have a student card, get £3 off entry). On a Thursday, visit for ‘The Shed’ and prepare to have your horizons broadened with everything from a classical accordionist to an Indian Sarod player gracing the stage.
Where is it?: 63-65 Broadway Market, E8 4PH
The Piano Works | Farringdon | £
What is it?: This huge, converted Victorian warehouse is a joint of non-stop live music. Working like a human jukebox, the talented pianists and house band take requests from the audience all night long – so no two nights will ever be the same. On top of this, The Piano Works also offers open mic nights and emerging talent events.
When to go: The Piano Works is free any time Monday-Thursday, or before 9pm on a Friday and 8pm on a Saturday. However, if you can’t make it before late at the weekend, put your name on the friends list for 50% off entry. Also don’t for get happy hour: every day from 5pm-7pm.
Where is it?: 113-117 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3BX
The Old Queen’s Head | Islington | ££
What is it?: This trendy pub with vintage stylings has it’s live music game down with a great upstairs area and bar perfect for an intimate gig. With previous acts including Bombay Bicycle Club and Foals, this party destination in Angel is the perfect place to go in search of new talent: either musically or romantically.
When to go: Check out the events page on the website for the best up-to-date guide of what is happening when.
Where is it?: 44 Essex Road, Islington, N1 8LN
The Dog and Fox | Wimbledon | £
What is it?: Located in the quaint Wimbledon Village, The Dog and Fox is a traditional British pub and hotel is anything but refined when it comes to their live music selection. With a different band playing every week, hear everything from the classics to today’s hits.
When to go: Live music starts at 9pm on a Saturday night and is free, so definitely give it a try if you are in the area!
Where is it?: 24 High Street, Wimbledon Village, SW19 5EA
The Cat and Mutton | Hackney | £
What is it?: Established in 1729, this large pub, set over two floors is a part of East London history, as well as it’s social scene. The hearty selection of pub grub and cocktails will keep you full of energy for the weekly entertainment.
When to go: On Tuesdays and Thursdays, check out the Blues, Jazz and Boogie tunes played by the house’s favourite ivory tinklers. Music starts from 8pm and is free all night.
Where is it?: 76 Broadway Market, Hackney, E8 4QJ
Apples and Pears | Shoreditch | £
What is it?: A neighbourhood cocktail bar serving up a variety of music that’s as colourful as their cocktails with everything from Motown, old school hip-hop and beats to folk acoustic sessions.
When to go: Every Wednesday, check out some of the best blues and folk talent out there with this open mic/featured artist mach up. The event is free all night so no excuses for a no-show! Many other events and live sets also take place at the bar, so check out the website for more details.
Where is it?: 26 Osborn Street, E1 6TD
The Dublin Castle | Camden | ££
What is it?: One of the few remaining testaments to Camden’s rock and roll legacy, The Dublin Castle has hosted more famous bands than the Madness’ Suggs has (probably) downed behind the bar. With live music on every night and DJs on afterwards at the weekends, this destination pub in the centre of Camden has your indie night out covered.
When to go: Any night of the week! Check out the website for specific information on who’s playing when, plus download the entry flyer from the website for discounted entry.
Where is it?: 94 Parkway, Camden, NW1 7AN
Notting Hill Arts Club | Notting Hill | ££
What is it?: Located right in the centre of Notting Hill, this funky, basement venue that offers a whole host of live music, club night and arts events. Check out their website for details of upcoming gigs – many of the nights offer discounted or free entry if you turn up early.
When to go?: Live music events are sporadic, check the site’s Facebook page for information on the music.
Where is it?: 21 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3JO
Nothing taking your fancy? Not to worry, how about checking out these 6 blogs for sourcing cheap live music.
Or for live music on a large scale, how about this list of the top free music festivals in London.