Best 14 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.

See musicians hone their craft at live gigs at grassroots venues around the capital. Many famous bands performed live in London’s pubs and bars before hitting the big time.

Plan a night out at the best live music bars in London, and check out some of the top London clubs and best jazz bars.

1. 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 this stage has plenty of surprises in store.

Location: 94 Parkway, London NW1 7AN

2. Old Street Records

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

Location: 350-356 Old Street, London EC1V 9NQ

3. The Old Blue Last

Find a new favourite band at The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch. This bar has live music and DJs, usually on seven nights a week, and many shows are free to see.

Location: 38 Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3ES

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 still invites rising and already famous musicians to its stage, as it has since 1959.

Location: 47 Frith Street, London W1D 4HT

5. 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 request slip to add it to the band's set list. The Piano Works also has a branch in the West End.

Location: 113-117 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3BX

6. 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.

Location: 96-98 Pentonville Road, London N1 9JB

7. Notting Hill Arts Club

Listen to music of every genre at the Notting Hill Arts Club, which has niche nights tailored to specific tastes. Party the night away at this basement venue in west London.

Location: 21 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3JQ

8. Shacklewell Arms

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

Location: 71 Shacklewell Lane, London E8 2EB

9. Scarfes Bar

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

Location: Rosewood Hotel London, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN

10. The Troubadour

Enjoy live music at The Troubadour, a long-standing bar in Earl's Court 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.

Location: 265-267 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 9JA

11. 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 that include classical music and opera.

Location: 1 Graces Alley, London E1 8JB

12. 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's storied history includes performances by the Rolling Stones and The Who. The pub has put on live shows almost every night of the week since the 1960s.

Location: 93 Lower Richmond Road, London SW15 1EU

13. Hope and Anchor

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

Location: 207 Upper Street, London N1 1RL

14. 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 its weekend club nights bring dance-happy crowds to east London.

Location: 1A Amhurst Road, London E8 1LL