London has always played a major role in the history of rock’n’roll, from the Swinging London years to the birth of punk, from Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones to the legendary brit rock decade. Now it seems that it has all calmed down, times change and the electronic music seems to have claimed a large share of the modern youth.
But, as they say, rock and roll will never die, and in London it’s plenty of places where you can not only enjoy some good rock music, but be surrounded by a proper atmosphere, including some characters that would be fit for a Motörhead
This is not a complete list of whole London but it represents my favourite places, where I spent several nights and can guarantee for.
And no, I won’t tell you again that time I met Alex Turner in a pub in Camden (didn’t you know? 😉 ).
The Big Red
Address: 385 Holloway Rd, N7 0RY
Phone:020 7609 6662 | Facebook
Big, loud, rowdy, american style saloon. If I had to choose my one favourite rock bar in London I would probably go for this. The speakers relentlessly blare the same good old reliable hard rock while the heavily tattooed barmaids are pouring buckets of beers. Many nights here ended challenging random strangers at snooker or football table. They have great nachos platters and weekly live music. Perfect for a bro-date.
Address: 224 Camden High St, NW1 8QR
Phone:020 7485 3130
By right an institution amongst the most traditional pubs in Camden, the Elephant Head has been my last stop of many nights. They often have a DJ playing classics from a corner of the room, while you will be elbowing your way to the bar in a thick crowd of teenage punks and ageing rockers with long grey hair. Best enjoyed quite late, especially during weekdays.
Address: 17 Manette St, W1D 4AS
Phone:020 7439 0831 | Website
Back in the days of the glorious Astoria, this was where the musicians, and the people attending their gigs, would go for drinks before and after the show. Apparently it was also Dave Grohl’s favourite. Now it serves this purpose for the smaller Borderline, next door, but still offers the same menu: beers (they have a good selection too!), skulls and hard rock. Perfect for a break from the bustling Central London.
Address: 26 Denmark St, WC2H 8NL
Entrance: usually charge £5-6 when there’s live music
Located in the famous Denmark Street, which features more music shops per square meter than any other place in the world, this is infallibly my answer to the question “where can we go now?” if we happen to be somewhere near Covent Garden. Little stinky hole, with a snooker room and a gig venue as big as your living room and that looks it has been bombed during WWII and never changed much since. A beautiful place also to get live music, whose walls ooze with years of rock and sweat.
Aces and Eights
Address: 156-158 Fortess Rd, NW5 2HP
Phone:020 7485 4033 | Website
Hours: 4:00 pm – 1:00 am
Not quite central, this bar is located in front of the Tufnell Park tube station, it’s rather dark, dimly lit by neon lights. I used to live in the area and I was thrilled when it opened, as it offered a menu that can’t be easily beaten: non-stop rock music, bras hanging from the ceiling, beer, pizza. Yes they make a decent pizza and some live shows and, apparently, there’s a hidden door leading to a secret room. I’m still waiting for confirmation on this, unfortunately I can’t check myself because after celebrating my 30th here, I have to steer clear from there.
Slim Jim’s Liquor Store
Address: 112 Upper St, N1 1QN
Phone:020 7354 4364 | Website
Hours: 4:00 pm – 2:00 am
More civilized than the previous bars, the Slim Jim is a dive bar in Angel that ticks all the rock’n’roll boxes. The place is small and reminiscent of the American 50s, they serve a decent selection of beers, and a 2 for 1 on cocktails from 4pm to 8pm. Now they also serve pizza, courtesy of the same guys doing it at the Aces and Eights.
It gets noisy and jolly as the night goes, but get there before it gets too busy, so you might have a chance to use one of the best Jukebox in town.
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