NIGHTLIFE OF LONDON
MUSIC ROCK AND POP
Birthplace of the Stones, the Sex Pistols, Madness, and the Chemical Brothers, home to Madonna (sort of) and McCartney, London is a town steeped in rock.
@ The Water Rats, 328 Grays Inn Rd. (7837 7269). Tube: King’s Cross St. Pancras. Pub-cafe by day, stomping ground for top new talent by night. Cover £5, with band flyer £4. Open for coffee M-F 8am-noon. Music M-Sa 8pm-late.
Brixton Academy, 211 Stockwell Rd. (Ticketweb 7771 2000). Tube: Brixton. 1929 extheater; sloping floor ensures everyone can see the band. Covers all bases, from the Pogues to Senegalese stars. 4300 capacity. Box office open only on performance evenings. £15-30. Cash only at the door.
Dublin Castle, 94 Parkway (8806 2668). It’s madness in the back room every Tu, with a blur of record execs and talent scouts on the lookout for the next big thing at Club Fandango. 3 bands nightly 8:45-1 lpm; doors open 8:30pm. £5, students £4.
Forum, 9-11 Highgate Rd. ( 7284 1001; box office 7344 0044). Tube: Kentish Town. Turn right and cross the road. Lavish Art Deco theater with great sound and views. Bjork, Jamiroquai, Oasis, Van Morrison, and others have played this 2000-capacity space.
London Astoria (LAI), 157 Charing Cross Rd. (7344 0044). Tube: Tottenham Court Rd. Once a pickle factory, London Astoria is now devoted to full-time rock. Su-W sees hometown acts and the popular G-A-Y club night (194). Cover £5-25.
Home to four world-class orchestras, three major concert halls, two opera houses, two ballet companies, and more chamber ensembles than you could Simon Rattle your baton at, London is ground zero for serious music and there’s no need to break the bank. To hear some of the world’s top choirs for free, head to Westminster Abbey (169) or St. Paul’s Cathedral (171) for Evensong.
Barbican Hall (see Barbican Theatre, 185). Tube: Barbican. One of Europe’s leading concert halls. Home to the London Symphony Orchestra. Tickets £6-33.
English National Opera, the Coliseum, St. Martin’s Ln. (7632 8300; www.eno.org). Tube: Charing Cross or Leicester Sq. In London’s largest theater, re-opening in January 2004 for its centennial celebration. Known for innovative productions of the classics and contemporary, avant-garde work. Box office open M-Sa 10am-8pm. £5-55, under-18 half-price with adult. Cheap standbys bookable on performance days, by phone from 9am. The Proms, at the Royal Albert Hall. This summer season of classical music has been held since 1895, with concerts every night from mid-July to mid-Sept. “Promenade” refers to the tradition of selling dirt-cheap standing tickets, but it’s the presence of up to 1000 dedicated prommers that gives the concerts their unique atmosphere. Tickets (£5-30) go on sale in May; standing room (£4) from lVihr. before the concert.
Royal Opera House, Bow St. (a 7304 4000). Tube: Covent Garden. Known as “Covent Garden” to the aficionado, the Opera House is also home to the Royal Ballet. Box office open daily 10am-8pm. Best seats start at f 100, but standing room and restricted-view upper balcony can be under £5. Concessions standby 4hr. before curtain £12.50-15. 67 seats from 10am day of performance £10-40.
South Bank Centre, on the South Bank (7960 4201). Tube: Waterloo or Embankment. All manner of serious music is on the program here; the London Philharmonic is the orchestra-in-residence for the Royal Festival Hall. Tickets for all events at the Festival Hall box office (open daily 11am to 8 or 9pm); Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room box offices open 45min. before curtain. Some concessions; standbys may also be released 2hr. before performance (check s 7921 0973).
Wigmore Hall, 36 Wigmore St. (7935 2141; www.wigmore-hall.org.uk). Tube: Oxford Circus. London’s premier chamber music venue, in a beautiful setting with excellent acoustics. Occasional jazz. £1 fee for phone bookings. Concerts most nights 7:30pm, no concerts July-Aug. £8-20, student and senior standbys lhr. before curtain £8-10 (cash only). Daytime concerts Su 11:30am (£10) and M lpm (£8, seniors £6).
JAZZ, FOLK, AND WORLD
This isn’t Chicago, but top jazz clubs still pull in big-name performers. Folk (which in London usually means Ullrish trad) and world music keep an even lower profile, mostly restricted to pubs and community centers. International performers occasionally make appearances at major concert halls such as the South Bank Centre, the Barbican, and the Wigmore Hall (see above).
606 Club, 90 Lots Rd. (7352 5953; www.606club.co.uk). Hard to find; look for the brick arch with a light bulb and ring the doorbell. The intrepid will be rewarded with brilliant British and European jazz in a smoky basement venue. M-W doors open 7:30pm, music 8pm-late; Th doors 8pm, music 9:30pm-late; F-Sa doors 8pm, music 10pm-2am; Su (vocalists) doors 8pm, music 8:30pm-midnight.
Ronnie Scott’s, 47 Frith St. ( 7439 0747). Tube: Tottenham Court Rd. or Piccadilly Circus. London’s oldest and most famous jazz club. 2 bands alternate 4 sets M-Sa, opener at 9:30pm and headline around 11pm. Reservations essential. Food £5-25. Cocktails £7-8. Cover M-Th £15, F-Sa £25, Su £8-12; students M-W £10. Box office open M-Sa llam-6pm. Club open M-Sa 8:30pm-3am, Su 7:30-1 lpm. AmExMCV.