Best 15 live music bars in London

From rock, pop and dance, to jazz, house and reggae, London has a spectacular array of live music gigs in pubs and bars across the city.

Live gigs at grassroots venues are the best way to see new and aspiring musicians hone their craft. Many famous bands performed live in London’s pubs and bars before they hit the big time.

Browse the list of live music bars in London below to plan your next night out. Plus, check out these top 10 London clubs and best jazz nights.

1. Oriole

Tables and chairs at Oriole bar in London
Seats at Oriole bar. Image courtesy of Oriole.
Bop along to the beat at Oriole, an intimate speakeasy-style bar that’s below the stalls of Smithfield Market. The stage plays host to two sets of live jazz nearly every night of the week, with an additional late-night session on Fridays and Saturdays.

2. The Dublin Castle

Discover the next big names at The Dublin Castle in Camden. The Dublin Castle has long been a launching pad for Britpop and indie musicians, and you never know what surprises this stage has in store.

3. Old Street Records

Jam along to the songs at Shoreditch’s Old Street Records, which sees live music performances throughout the week. Fill up on a freshly made pizza from the bar’s kitchen before heading to the dance floor.

4. Ronnie Scott's

Low-lit interior of Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London
Interior of Ronnie Scott's. Image courtesy of Ronnie Scott's.
Move to the grooves at the legendary Ronnie Scott’s, one of London’s most famous jazz clubs. Ronnie Scott’s has invited rising and already famous musicians to its stage since 1959.

5. The Old Blue Last

Find your next favourite band at The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch. This bar has live music and DJs, usually with an electro twist, seven nights a week, and many of the shows are free to see.

6. The Piano Works

Put in a request at The Piano Works in Farringdon, where the house musicians play only what the audience asks for. Write down your song of choice on a napkin, and the band will add it to their set list. The Piano Works also has a branch in the West End.

7. The Lexington

Rock out upstairs at The Lexington, a pub in Islington known for its live music and huge selection of bourbon. The performances above the main bar tend to be rock’n’roll music, while the basement venue has more of a blues vibe.

8. Notting Hill Arts Club

Listen to music of every genre at the Notting Hill Arts Club, which has niche nights tailored to specific tastes. No matter when you go, it’s sure to be a party in this basement venue in west London.

9. Shacklewell Arms

Scout out up-and-coming music at the Shacklewell Arms in east London. This pub often puts on gigs by indie artists, and the welcoming crowd filling up the cosy space is always ready to cheer on the next act.

10. Scarfes Bar

Inspired by the old-world sophistication of drawing rooms and gentlemen’s clubs, Scarfes Bar in Holborn puts on live jazz and cabaret shows every night of the week. Watch the performance from the comfort of one of the snug velvet armchairs surrounded by more than 1,000 antique books.

11. The Troubadour

Enjoy live music at The Troubadour, a long-standing bar in west Kensington that’s seen the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Elton John and Bob Dylan grace its stage. The events calendar includes free and ticketed performances from folk, jazz and world music artists.

12. Wilton's Music Hall

Step into the past at Wilton’s Music Hall, the world’s last surviving grand Victorian music hall. The labyrinthine corridors hide a bar and plenty of space for seating, while a huge theatre space sees performances including classical music and opera.

13. The Half Moon

The Bohicas performing to a crowd at The Half Moon pub in London
The Bohicas performing at The Half Moon. Image courtesy of The Half Moon.
Catch a live gig at The Half Moon pub in Putney, one of London’s oldest venues for live music. The Half Moon has a storied history, including performances by the Rolling Stones and The Who. The pub has put on live shows almost every night of the week since the 1960s.

14. Hope and Anchor

One of London’s best bars for rock and punk music since the 1970s, the Hope and Anchor in Islington has invited plenty of big-name performers, including Joy Division, The Clash and The Cure. But with a capacity of 80 gig-goers, the venue promises an up-close-and-personal experience.

15. Oslo

Set inside a former train station in Hackney, Oslo is an impressive space to watch live music. The venue puts on shows from pop and R&B artists, and it also has weekend club nights that bring in the dance-happy crowds to east London.