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Coolest Music Venues in the UK


Not much beats the thrill of enjoying loud music with a group of like-minded individuals.

Whether it be a club night or a live act, it's one of life's most intense and unforgettable experiences.

So, to point you in the right direction, here's our guide to the coolest music venues in the UK. Go to these places for the most interesting acts, the best crowds, the most euphoric atmospheres and the most interesting surroundings.

If you visit every one, you're basically an honorary roadie/groupie - so you'd best get cracking.


King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

Forever famous as (allegedly) the place where Alan McGee made up his mind to sign Oasis, King Tuts has assumed a legendary status in Glasgow and, indeed, the UK. Amongst a great many excellent venues, including Nice 'n' Sleazy's and one of our favourite larger venues in the UK, the ABC, it stands out with excellent sightlines everywhere, a great bar downstairs and impeccable bookings.

And another thing: If you're lucky enough to play there, you'll get treated to the best in-house pre-gig meal in the UK, and that's a fact.



The Fleece, Bristol

Tucked away in an unassuming part of the city, the Fleece - originally an old wool hall, hence the name - is an all-action seven-days-a-week gig and club venue. An enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff ensure that a huge variety of acts pass through its doors; watch out for festival warm-up gigs from larger acts too.

And another thing: If you fancy a pre-gig pint in a proper pub, head to the King's Head round the corner for some excellent ale.



The Deaf Institute, Manchester

There's a host of brilliant venues in Manchester; the Night and Day is a fantastically atmospheric and friendly venue, the Roadhouse and The Ruby Lounge offer unrivalled rock & roll spills 'n' thrills, but we've plumped for The Deaf Institute. A truly beautiful Victorian building taking in three floors, a domed ceiling, aged wood and lashings of velvet, it operates as a cafe during the day and a multi-tiered club at night, as well as hosting a plethora of great gigs.

And another thing: Manchester Evening News voted it Best Venue in 2013, so if the locals are fans, so are we.



The Lexington, London

There's a near infinite supply of small venues in London, many conferred with legendary status, but our favourite is The Lexington in Angel. The downstairs is a cracking pub, with good food and beer, that hosts the weekly Rough Trade Pop Quiz, while the upstairs is the best small room in London: great sound, two tiers and a high stage. If there's a hotly-tipped band playing a show here, don't think twice: get booking.

And another thing: The Lexington hosts a stock of over 100 American whiskies and bourbons.



Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

A community, not-for-profit venue, the Brudenell is the hidden gem of the Leeds music scene. It's played host to a good many secret gigs from larger acts, as well as a steady stream of all the best up-and-coming indie bands. A welcoming atmosphere and craft beer to boot - what more could you ask for?

And another thing: The Brudenell hosts plenty of other arts events, including a regular origami group.



Moles Club, Bath

Located in the heart of Bath, you'll struggle to find another venue with such beautiful immediate surroundings; the city's Royal Crescent is just a short walk up the road. But never mind the sights, what about the sounds? Well, Moles is a gloriously dark, atmospheric venue with a low ceiling and a great soundsystem occupying a particularly prominent place in the history of electronic music, playing host to the early days of Propellerheads, Erol Alkan and Andrew Weatherall. A recent fire has, sadly, put the club out of action - but only temporarily. They'll be back raring to go very soon and that means one thing: a relaunch party. Every cloud, eh?

And another thing: If you're playing at Moles, you can even sleep there - the venue offers accomodation for up to six people.



The Full Moon/The Moon Club, Cardiff

Located on Womanby Street, in the shadow of the Millenium Stadium and opposite the equally excellent Clwb Ifor Bach, The Full Moon boasts everything you could need for a good musical night out. In the downstairs bar, DJs and bands get hot and sweaty, while the upstairs Moon Club has an intimate live room, connected to a chill out lounge area. For the best of Cardiff's new talent and a good few touring bands too, head here.

And another thing: Be sure to visit The City Arms pub just round the corner - a CAMRA award winner and beer lover's paradise.



Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh

A small venue with big atmosphere, you're guaranteed a fun night at Sneaky Pete's. A chocca-block schedule sees a wide variety of acts and DJs pass through its doors over the course of a week. If friendly, sweaty and energetic is what you're after, then Pete's will provide it in spades.

And another thing: Take in some obligatory Edinburgh culture by enjoying a leisurely walk down the Royal Mile, just round the corner, before getting into the action.



The Leadmill, Sheffield

It's nothing less than an institution, which has been running since 1980 and shows no signs of slowing down. A big, atmospheric main room, with a smaller side room combine with plenty of character and atmosphere generated by the famous Sheffield crowds. It's loved by punters and bands alike, with a 2005 gig by Arctic Monkeys selling out faster than any other show.

And another thing: One early event in 1982 saw Jarvis Cocker direct a pantomime.



Tooting Tram & Social, London

We all know that Tooting is the hidden gem of London, coming complete with its own curry mile between the Broadway and Bec stations, but not enough people are aware of the gem within a gem that is the Tram & Social. A beautiful open plan pub, at one end is a 'sitting room' style band space that hosts regular gigs, including The Remedy, a night curated by the living legend that is XFM's John Kennedy. Head down and you won't be disappointed.

And another thing: The name comes from the fact that it is a genuine converted tram shed. If that's not rock and roll, we don't know what is.



An Lanntair, Stornoway

Pretty much the outermost point of the UK to play a gig, if you make the trip to the Isle of Lewis, it's well worth it. The pretty venue of An Lanntair is perfectly suited for intimate acoustic gigs. Most notably, an on-the-rise Mumford & Sons came back to play the venue in 2011 after loving the experience so much the first time.

And another thing: The venue is a general arts hub, hosted art galleries, plays, cinema and talks.



The Thekla, Bristol

You can't really argue with a venue that is on a boat. But they don't just play The Lonely Island on a loop (though we'd go regularly if they did), the two rooms (one big, down below and one small, on the top deck) play host to a variety of the latest bands and club nights. And for those worried about seasickness: it doesn't really move. But it is extremely cool: you'll sea if you go there.

And another thing: The vessel's original name was the Old Profanity Showboat.



The Sugarmill, Stoke

Like the Leadmill (only, sugar, we guess), the Sugarmill is a no-nonsense proper music venue in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent. It was already a great space before the addition of a converted roof terrace in 2007, perfect to make the most of those rare sunny occasions in the UK. An essential part of the gig schedule for all sorts of sizes of bands, and a big supporter of local talent too.

And another thing: It's celebrating its 30 anniversary this year. So send them a card (or go to a gig).



The Limelight, Belfast

A suite of four spaces ensures that whatever your musical itch, the Limelight will scratch it. Already boasting a proud musical heritage, the site was taken over in 2010 whereupon a huge redevelopment began to unfold. The Limelight, Limelight 2, Katy's Bar and the brand new outdoor space The Rock Garden all host a variety of different styles and sizes of acts.

And another thing: Oasis played the venue in 1994, and legend has it that they received word that Definitely Maybe had gone to No. 1 in the UK. Noel Gallagher said, "I'll always remember this place with affection. We had a party that night and the audience joined in. That was the start of our success story."



The Royal Albert Hall, London

Let's face it, it doesn't get much more spectacular than the Royal Albert Hall. Once the preserve of classical music only, the venue has made a conscious effort over the past few years to encourage a wide range of musical styles; consequently you're just as likely to hear The Wombats or the Pet Shop Boys as you are Vaughan Williams or Puccini. Naturally, the sound is incredible, the surroundings beautiful, and how many venues enable you to get an ice cream at the interval?

And another thing: The sound was not always so good in the Albert Hall; when it was first opened, it used to be joked that, due to the echo, the Hall was "the only place where a British composer could be sure of hearing his work twice".



The East Village Arts Club, Liverpool

A newly refurbished arts space on Liverpool's famous Seel Street, it has benefited hugely from its facelift, with the main room - an elegant, smaller, version of The Ritz in Manchester or London's Forum, arguably the best space in Liverpool. Its other smaller rooms and kitchen area should not be overlooked though, and with a varied booking policy, there's something for everyone here.

And another thing: The building dates back to the 1800s, when it was part of the Royal Institute of Arts & Science.



UEA Nick Rayns LCR, Norwich

A 1500 capacity venue, and quite simply our favourite of the mid-sized venues in the UK. A high and wide stage ensures that there are great sightlines throughout; it even boasts a sunken parquet dancefloor in the middle. For anyone who mourns the sad loss of the Astoria in London, get yourself over to a gig in Norwich instead.

And another thing: The UEA LCR was the first venue in the country to ban The Sex Pistols.



Islington Mill, Salford

A spiritual successor to the city's legendary, and sadly-missed Haçienda club, The Mill was founded in 2000 alongside similar art-first, business-later principles. Independently-run and, in their own words "a non-hierarchical organisation that makes no distinction between work and play, outcome and process, chaos and control". Naturally, there's all kinds of arts going on, but be sure to try and catch a late night gig or club night in this special space.

And another thing: The venue is a former Victorian mill and boasts six floors, including an artists' B&B.



Brixton Academy, London

A truly legendary gig venue, it's tough to beat the Academy for large-scale gigs. A sloping floor gives great sightlines, the acoustics are excellent, and the facade surrounding the stage is quite beautiful. Hammersmith Apollo, Koko and Shepherds Bush Empire deserve honorable mentions, but Brixton edges it for us as the ultimate theatre venue.

And another thing: Leftfield hold the venue's decibel record: their 1996 gig was so loud that the ceiling began to disintegrate. The soundsystem they used was subsequently, and unsurprisingly, banned.





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