London Gig Venues by Carl Allen. Amberley.
London is the undisputed capital of the music industry. It’s where the record labels, management firms and music media are based. From the early days of popular music, bands realised that if they wanted to make it then they needed to move to London in order to get noticed by record companies. They needed to get out and play gigs and this is why London has always had such a healthy live music scene.
In London Gig Venues, Carl Allen has listed over 500 venues past and present. The book is divided up into five geographical sections: Central, North, East, South and West. Virtually every venue inside of the M25 has been tracked down by the author and in many cases photographed. The book has 170 colour and b/w pictures of venues. This has been very much a labour of love by a self-confessed rock fan who describes himself as the Pevsner of rock and roll. Nicholas Pevsner (1902 -1983) was the author of the 46 volume Buildings of England which lists every noteworthy building in every county in England.
Carl breaks the venues down into five categories which are: pubs, clubs, theatres, arenas and stadiums. Every possible venue is listed from the big names of the past such as the Rainbow, Finsbury Park, Earl Court and the Marquee. The book is not just a wallow in nostalgia as it also lists most current venues such as Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, Borderline, Soho and the O² arena. A typical entry for a venue will give a brief history of the site and mention some bands that have played there together with details of live recordings or videos.
The book works on a number of different levels. Firstly, if you are interested in rock music then it does list every London venue past and present together with some of the bands. Secondly, if you live in London it will help you discover more about your local area as many buildings which are now cinemas, churches or shops used to be venues. The Tottenham Court Road Burger King used to be the Horseshoe Hotel which hosted gigs in the late 1960’s by folkies Sandy Denny and Bet Jansch. The Apple store at Covent Garden used to be the Rock Garden which hosted gigs by The Smiths and U2 in the early 1980’s. Thirdly, if you live in London it will help you identify current venues that host rock gigs. The book give the full postal address of each venue together with the nearest tube/train/DLR station. There are also some useful observations about bigger venues such catering, toilets and access.
There are an awful lot of books published about London but most are aimed at tourists and list the usual museums, art galleries and attractions. London Gig Guide is a unique publication in that it lists every music venue past and present. There is even a list of best ever London gigs (as compiled by Time Out in 2005) which includes The Smiths at Jubilee Gardens performing at the GLC Jobs for a Change event in 1984. Let us just remind ourselves of the genius of Morrissey as we watch him perform This Charming Man. Don’t you just wish you had seen them perform?