Visit London Blog » british music experience http://blog.visitlondon.com Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:00:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 I’m With the Band: Top 10 London Attractions for Musicians http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/im-with-the-band-top-10-london-attractions-for-musicians/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/im-with-the-band-top-10-london-attractions-for-musicians/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 09:00:36 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=34272

London has long been a magnet for the world’s most famous singers and bands – and it’s produced a fair few itself, from Queen to Amy Winehouse. So the city is full of great attractions where musicians and lovers of music can learn about their idols, buy classic records and even record a tune. Here are 10 of the best:

Abbey Road
The iconic Beatles album cover picturing the famous four walking over a zebra crossing on London’s Abbey Road has inspired endless copies and parodies. The nearby Abbey Road Studios are not open to the public (unless you’ve booked a recording session), but they do have a live web cam online so why tell your friends back home to look out for you doing the famous walk?

Jersey Boys
Even if you’re not familiar with the name Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, you’ll know their songs: Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye), Big Girls Don’t Cry, Beggin’, December 1963 (better known as Oh What A Night)… the list goes on. So Jersey Boys, the Olivier Award-winning musical about the band, is a must for all music fans – even if you think you’re not into musicals! Other great musicals to check out include Thriller – Live (Michael Jackson) and We Will Rock You (Queen).

British Music Experience
Roll back the years at the British Music Experience (located inside The O2) and explore amazing outfits, instruments, videos, photos and other memorabilia from the past and present of British popular music. Look out for John Lennon’s glasses, Ziggy Stardust’s 1970s number outfit and ‘Ginger Spice’ Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress. Plus you can show your best moves in the Dance The Decades booth, record a track in the Gibson Interactive Studio and transport yourself to some of the biggest concerts of the past 60 years in The Finale.

Open Mic Night at The Spice of Life
Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and Jamie Cullum have all performed at The Spice of Life in Soho. And you can too if you pop along to its Open Mic Night, held every Monday. Make use of the in-house piano and PA, or bring along your own instrument. The music kicks off at 7pm, but performers should sign up at 6.30pm to be sure of getting a spot.

Denmark Street
Denmark Street, near Leicester Square, is known as London’s Tin Pan Alley. Both sides of the small street are lined with music shops, including Wunjo Guitars (selling new, used and vintage guitars), Vintage & Rare Guitars and Sax.co.uk. Stick around into the evening to enjoy live music at the intimate 12 Bar Club or Alleycat Bar Club, located below Regent Sounds Studio – where the Rolling Stones recorded their first album.

Rock and Roll London Walk
If you love to be regaled by tales of rockstar exploits, book a spot on the fascinating, two-hour-long Rock and Roll London Walk. You’ll visit the famous Marquee Club, pop into the pub where Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton once jammed, discover the location of the Sex Pistols’ world debut, and much more. No need to book, just turn up at Tottenham Court Road station (Exit 3) any Friday at 2pm.

Honest Jon’s Records
Arguably the most legendary of London’s independent record stores, Honest Jon’s is the retail arm of the acclaimed record label of the same name. Specialising in reggae, jazz and soul, Honest Jon’s has enjoyed a colourful, rollercoaster existence since its birth in 1974 and is still considered to be one of London’s best record shops by those in the know.

Wembley Arena
Every musician dreams of shouting “Hello Wembley!” to a sea of screaming fans – and many have done it, including Madonna, David Bowie and Prince. Check out Visit London’s music section for listings of gigs taking place every night across London at venues including Wembley Arena.

Music Gallery at Horniman Museum
See, hear and play instruments from around the world at Horniman Museum – from a 3,500-year-old pair of Egyptian bone clappers to a retro synth. Make time to visit ongoing exhibition The Art of Harmony, exploring Western classical music traditions, as well as the Hands-On Base, where you can give the instruments a go. Other London music museums to check out are The Royal Academy of Music Museum and The Royal College of Music’s Museum of Instruments.

Hard Rock Cafe
Today there are Hard Rock Cafes all around the world, but the London branch is where it all began in 1971. The walls of the restaurant – and the vault below – are lined with memorabilia, including the first piece donated to the cafe: Eric Clapton’s Lead II Fender. You may even spot the odd rock star popping in for a burger, according to the cafe – or witness one of the occasional jamming sessions. And if you don’t, you’ll still get a great meal out of it.

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London for Under 18s: Teenagers’ Day Out http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/12/london-for-under-18s-teenagers-day-out/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/12/london-for-under-18s-teenagers-day-out/#comments Sun, 15 Dec 2013 10:00:06 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=36541 Visitors at Trafalgar Square. London on View/VisitBritain

Going on a day out in London can be tricky when you’re a teenager. You want something interesting and cool but not too expensive – and where you don’t need ID or parental accompaniment (if you’re going with just friends).

So we’ve come up with an itinerary for how your day could look. There’s enough to fill a whole weekend, let alone one day, so pick and choose according to how much time and money you have to spare.

Camden Market

Morning: Shopping at Old Spitalfields Market or Camden Market

Markets are a great place to pick up a bargain or unique gift. Old Spitalfields Market is a cobbled, indoor market with stalls selling everything from vinyl records (on the first and third Friday of the month) to vintage (on Saturdays). If your style is more alternative, head for Camden Market where you’ll find goth fashion, handmade accessories and much more.

The Boiler House Food Hall

Lunch at Boiler House Food Hall or Honest Burgers

If you went for the Spitalfields option, pop into nearby Boiler House Food Hall for lunch. This indoor food market – located inside The Old Truman Brewery (look out for the giant chimney) – is packed with traders selling dishes from around the world: India, Japan, Poland, Morocco… it’s all there. Opted for Camden? Pick up some street food at the market or take a seat at Honest Burgers for a British beef burger (served with chips, from £8).

Roundhouse

Get involved at the British Music Experience or the Roundhouse

Hop on the Tube to North Greenwich and explore the British Music Experience (£6 for under 17s when booked in advance). See John Lennon’s specs and other music memorabilia, show off some moves in the ‘Dance the Decades’ booth, record a song in the Interactive Studio and much, much more. Alternatively, see what’s happening at Camden’s Roundhouse. This top music venue has a programme called Creative Projects, with drop-in sessions for 11-25 year olds in music, creative media and performing arts (from £2).

Namco Funscape

Go Gaming at Namco Funscape or Get Creative at Tate Modern

Take the Tube to Waterloo and then walk to Namco Funscape (next to the London Eye) – an amusement venue full of interactive games, plus a laser maze, bowling alley, bumper cars and karaoke rooms. Watching the pennies? Walk up river for a wander around free contemporary art gallery Tate Modern. Don’t miss the digital drawing bar on Level 3, where you can create a piece of digital art and see it displayed instantly on a giant screen. Then you can say you’ve exhibited at the Tate!

Dinner at Wahaca or the Gourmet Pizza Company

Refuel for the evening at the South Bank branch of Wahaca, where street food tapas starts at £3.70 for a black beans & cheese quesadilla. Or go Italian at the Gourmet Pizza Company (along the river near the OXO Tower), where you’ll find delicious pizzas and pastas starting at £7.75.

National Theatre

Take in a show at the National Theatre or Barbican Centre

Many London theatres offer cheap tickets to under 26s. The National Theatre has a free membership scheme, Entry Pass, offering a limited number of £5 tickets to 16-25 years for each of its performances (UK residents only). The Barbican offers free (yes, free!) tickets for film, music, art, dance and theatre shows to 16-25 year olds through its freeB membership scheme. Younger teens should check out Unicorn Theatre near London Bridge, which groups shows by age (i.e. 17-12, 13+, adult) to make it easier to choose the ideal show for your age group.

Party with Under The Radar or McCluskys

Given UK licensing laws, London’s clubs and bars are strictly reserved for over 18s – as Justin Bieber discovered on his birthday. However, a number of underage, alcohol-free nights do exist in the capital. Upcoming events include Winter Special at the Renaissance Rooms in Vauxhall, organised by youth music scene promoters Under The Radar. Also on the calendar for December is a live showcase by MOBO award Winners Krept & Konan at McClusky’s in Kingston.

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Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ First Single with a Trip to London http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/10/celebrate-the-50th-anniversary-of-the-beatles-first-single-with-a-trip-to-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/10/celebrate-the-50th-anniversary-of-the-beatles-first-single-with-a-trip-to-london/#comments Mon, 15 Oct 2012 09:30:05 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=29521

It’s now 50 years since The Beatles released their debut single, Love Me Do. The Fab Four quickly gained international fame, and many key moments in their ensuing career took place in London. To celebrate this important anniversary and the band’s close association with the capital, you can explore the sites listed below, all of which provide a great opportunity to connect with the world of Ringo, George, John and Paul.

Abbey Road
Pay a visit to the world’s most famous pedestrian crossing, located in St John’s Wood, where you and your friends can recreate the band’s iconic album cover. Afterwards, enjoy refreshments at the nearby Beatles Coffee Shop.

Beatles Tours
Beatles experts, including Beatles Coffee Shop owner Richard Porter, conduct regular tours of London locations relevant to the band. There are a wide range of tours to choose from, both pedestrian and chauffeur-driven, and you can see everything from studios and film locations to the church in which several band members were married.

Madame Tussauds
Get up close to the Beatles in their heyday thanks to the startlingly realistic wax figures of the band at Madame Tussauds. Make sure you get a photo with your favourite Beatle!

Let It Be
Enjoy an innovative theatrical experience at the Prince of Wales Theatre, where the Beatles’ history is retold through film footage and the live performance of more than 20 of their greatest hits. Let It Be is on in London until January next year – book your ticket now.

British Music Experience
Head to The O2 in Greenwich for an immersive introduction to the best of British music, which of course includes The Beatles! Using images, video and a wealth of audio clips, the British Music Experience brings The Beatles’ magic alive, and you can even see John Lennon’s glasses.

Beatles Shop
For the perfect end to your trip, head to this charming shop for a unique souvenir. The Beatles Store offers everything from mugs and t-shirts to platinum-coated albums.

Which Beatles hotspots have you visited in London and are there any we’ve missed?

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The Big Busk, Playing at a London Bandstand Near You http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/08/the-big-busk-playing-at-a-london-bandstand-near-you/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/08/the-big-busk-playing-at-a-london-bandstand-near-you/#comments Sat, 04 Aug 2012 13:30:01 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=28227

London’s largest ever street music competition, The Big Busk sees young musicians and singers from across the capital performing in iconic venues for your pleasure – and your votes.

Running from 21 July to 25 August, the big buskers are cropping up all over London. Venues include The British Music Experience, BT London Live sites at Hyde Park and Victoria Park, and the Clapham Common Bandstand.

In case you don’t happen to catch all of the performers on your travels, you can see them online and vote for your favourite. The three categories are Youth, Soloists and Duos and Groups. Check out the performances so far at www.molpresents.com/gigs/vote. Prizes include studio time, musical instruments, a scholarship and (appropriately) a Transport for London busking licence.

Have you seen any of the Big Busk performers? Who do you think should win?

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Top 10 Best Bits from the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/07/top-10-best-bits-from-the-london-2012-opening-ceremony/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/07/top-10-best-bits-from-the-london-2012-opening-ceremony/#comments Sat, 28 Jul 2012 09:00:26 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=28118 London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony (rehearsal)Did you enjoy last night’s incredible Opening Ceremony? Danny Boyle’s magnum opus was a thrilling display of the history and culture of Great Britain, and had a massive positive response across the media, social networks, and with Londoners too.

From the rural beginnings with speeches from Shakespeare, through the Industrial Revolution, with nods to our great institutions (the NHS, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the inventor of the World Wide Web), with comedy from Messrs Bean and Bond, Boyle’s show stretched both our imaginations, and it seemed, the walls of the stadium, as the show seemed to encompass the whole world inside the “steel O” to misquote Shakespeare! Here are my top 10 moments from the show, with tips on places to visit in London if you were similarly impressed.

1. Bradley Wiggins and that Huge Bell
What a way to start. Winner of the Tour de France and in possession of a snazzy new yellow jersey, Londoner Bradley Wiggins rang the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world, at 23-tonnes cast by the Whitechapel Bell Company (est in 1570). Fancy visiting their factory? You can.

2. Kenneth Branagh as Isambard Kingdom Brunel
I’m a huge fan of actor Kenneth Branagh, and his reading of the “Isle is full of noises” speech was fantastic. He was representing Isambard Kingdom Brunel, an engineer responsible for many of the UK’s bridges and dockyards. You can learn more about this famous chap at the Brunel Museum, and take a tour through his Thames tunnel in Rotherhithe.

3. London Symphony Orchestra (and, of course, Mr Bean)
Have you ever seen a better one-finger ostinato than that performed by Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean? It was one of several very funny moments, but behind it all was the London Symphony Orchestra, with Vangelis’ tune from Chariots of Fire swelling under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. You can see the orchestra play throughout the year in London.

4. James Bond Visiting Buckingham Palace
Another brilliant comic turn, this time from HM The Queen herself. A pouty Daniel Craig took a trip to Buckingham Palace before executing the most incredible arrival at a party ever; you too can visit the Queen’s residence during the summer months. And if you’re a big Bond fan, don’t miss the current Barbican exhibition about our most famous spy.



5. JK Rowling Reading Peter Pan
Another of my highlights was hearing Harry Potter author JK Rowling reading from Peter Pan, before a team of hundreds of children performed a piece representing the wealth of children’s literature from Great Britain. If you were inspired by the literary display, why not try our Peter Pan Day Out, or visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter to see behind the scenes of JK Rowling’s incredible world.

6. Tim Berners-Lee – Inventor of the World Wide Web
An unsung hero of the modern age, and a key player in the digital revolution, Londoner Tim Berners-Lee made a guest appearance in the Ceremony, live tweeting “This is for everyone” which certainly made me want to cry! You can learn more about computer scientists like Tim at the Science Museum in London.

7. Dancer Akram Khan’s Moving Nod to Mortality
Earlier silliness was tempered with stillness as another Londoner, British Bangladeshi dancer Akram Khan performed a moving dance work called Mortality. Having held the post of associate artist at the Southbank Centre, he’s currently associate artist at Sadler’s Wells, and regularly performs in London. Keep an eye on our dance pages to see him perform again in London.

8. David Beckham’s Speedboat Along the Thames
Later, the mood changed again, as we were treated to the view of the lovely David Beckham sweeping along the Thames on a speedboat. Were you tempted? I’ve done it too, on one of the Speedboat Tours available in London, and I totally recommend it. (I can’t promise you’ll get the same fireworks as you pass under Tower Bridge, but the adrenaline rush is the same!)

9. The Olympic Cauldron by Thomas Heatherwick
There were so many well-kept secrets surrounding the ceremony, but one of the best was the cauldron and the identity of the final torchbearers. It was yet another emotional moment when the young athletes circled the stadium, and lit the 204 petals representing each country, which then rose together to create the cauldron. Want to know more about the Thomas Heatherwick Design Studios? There’s an exhibition dedicated to the team on at the V&A until 30 September.

10. The Great British Music
Finally, what about the amazing music that played throughout? So many great British musicians were given a moment in the spotlight: from Elgar to Underworld; from Charles Parry to the Arctic Monkeys; from the Sex Pistols to Dizzee Rascal. If you’re a fan of Sir Paul McCartney, make sure you visit the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing next time you’re in London; you can also pay tribute to the history of British music at the British Music Experience at The O2.

What were your favourite moments? Let us know in the comments below.

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Face the Music at the British Music Experience http://blog.visitlondon.com/2010/08/face-the-music-at-the-british-music-experience/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2010/08/face-the-music-at-the-british-music-experience/#comments Tue, 03 Aug 2010 13:47:34 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=12842

The British Music Experience is inviting you to “Face the Music” by guessing which pop stars are represented in the abstract images above.

If you guess correctly, you could win prizes including tickets to gigs at The O2, a signed Epiphone guitar, tickets to the L.E.D. Festival and a private tour of the British Music Experience for you and your friends.

To enter, go to www.britishmusicexperience.com/facethemusic

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Radio Caroline at the British Music Experience in London http://blog.visitlondon.com/2010/07/radio-caroline-at-the-british-music-experience-in-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2010/07/radio-caroline-at-the-british-music-experience-in-london/#comments Mon, 26 Jul 2010 14:00:43 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=12418 Radio Caroline Studio. Photo By: Jonny Payne Radio Caroline Exhibition. Photo By: Jonny Payne Radio Caroline Exhibition. Photo By: Jonny Payne Radio Caroline Exhibition. Photo By: Jonny Payne Radio Caroline Exhibition. Photo By: Jonny Payne Radio Caroline Exhibition. Photo By: Jonny Payne

The establishment tried to close Radio Caroline, the famous 1960s pirate radio station, many times but it kept bouncing back, and now it’s popped up once again – this time at the British Music Experience.

Radio Caroline has, in fact, never gone away. Its dedicated team of DJs and managers have ensured this important part of the swinging 60s continues to broadcast to this day, playing a mix of 60s and 70s music and current bands.

A ban on offshore pirate radio, a government raid and a shipwreck all threatened to shut the station, but it survived, and now you can hear the live show and see the DJs in action at the British Music Experience.

Part of London 60s Week, the story of Radio Caroline is told in a fascinating exhibition from its humble beginnings, to its heyday of famous DJs of the 60s and 70s and the present day. There is also a collection of memorabilia and a mock cabin of the Radio Caroline ship.

The station helped launch many DJ’s and musician’s careers including Tony Blackburn, Johnnie Walker The Kinks, The Who and The Rolling Stones.

Peter Moore, Radio Caroline station manager told Visit London: “Caroline was the generator of a lot happening in the 60s – without us a lot of things wouldn’t have happened. Once we set it running it took off on its own, the fashion, the stars….The government started thinking ‘how do we get the lid back on this?’ so our history is of various governments trying to stop us somehow.”

Moore added. “The tinge of illegality, although it wasn’t really illegal, gave it a nice edge. And of course the fact that these disc-jockeys were like the superstars of the present day – they were big, big stars.”

The station’s ultimate goal is to broadcast aboard their ship Ross Revenge live from a London location, also allowing it to become an attraction seen by tourists and locals alike, so watch this space.

Radio Caroline at the British Music Experience in The O2 was part of London 60s Week which finished on Sunday, but its stay has been extended until 7th August – so don’t miss it!

Radio Caroline wishes to thank London 60s Week for making the exhibition possible.

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Bon Jovi Exhibition Coming To The British Music Experience http://blog.visitlondon.com/2010/05/bon-jovi-exhibition-coming-to-the-british-music-experience/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2010/05/bon-jovi-exhibition-coming-to-the-british-music-experience/#comments Tue, 25 May 2010 12:18:37 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=9624 Bon Jovi continue their London takeover this summer (12 nights at The O2) with a photography exhibition at the British Music Experience (BME) in June.

Fans can peruse two floors of images, shot by “band insider” Phil Griffin including previously unpublished and private photos, as well as pics from upcoming official Bon Jovi book When We Were Beautiful. The British Music Experience will also be showing teaser screenings of the soon-to-be-released Bon Jovi documentary of the same name.

If you’ve already got Bon Jovi gig tickets, there’s an extra reason to get your ripped denim-clad self to the BME, as entry is reduced to £5 for Bon Jovi ticket holders.

Here’s Jon Bon proving he’s still a beauty rocking a fetching skull necklace.

When We Were Beautiful at the British Music Experience, 7-25 Jun 2010, entrance to museum £15, £5 for Bon Jovi ticket holders. www.britishmusicexperience.com/Bon-Jovi

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Question of the Week: Museums at Night: What Would You Like To See? http://blog.visitlondon.com/2010/05/question-of-the-week-museums-at-night-what-would-you-like-to-see/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2010/05/question-of-the-week-museums-at-night-what-would-you-like-to-see/#comments Mon, 10 May 2010 09:47:01 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=9038 This weekend museums and galleries all over Europe will be staying open after hours for Museums at Night. London is getting in on the act with more than 50 late night events taking place at cultural venues across the city.

There’s lots to choose between, from an adult sleepover at Churchill War Rooms to late night 10th birthday celebrations at Tate Modern. Play instruments into the night at the British Music Experience or see 19th century surgery by gas light at The Old Operating Theatre.

Tell us what you’d like to see at this year’s Museums at Night.

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Warhol’s Michael Jackson Portrait at British Music Experience http://blog.visitlondon.com/2009/07/warhols-michael-jackson-portrait-at-british-music-experience/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2009/07/warhols-michael-jackson-portrait-at-british-music-experience/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2009 16:21:49 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=1287 ANDY WARHOL (Green) Michael Jackson 1984

Catch Andy Warhol‘s amazing Michael Jackson portrait as it comes to London for just three days next week.

The iconic MJ picture will go on display at the British Music Experience from Thursday 6 August and will be its only European showing before it returns to New York to be sold.

The portrait was commissioned to celebrate record sales of the King of Pop’s Thriller album in 1984. If you’d like to own it, the opening bid starts at just $800,000!

Don’t miss your chance to see this unique piece of music history.

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