BEST SMALL LIVE SHOW VENUES IN LONDON
倫敦小型音樂 現場潛入記


 

My colleague’s son is turning
16 soon and asks her mother’s permission to rock concert with friends. His mother, namely my colleague listens to only classical music and has no idea about these ‘rock concert’ venues, so she turned to me for help, ‘What is it like? Is it crazy, chaos, unsafe?’

Well, yes, it is.

Just imagine a rock concert, what come across one’s mind would
be the crowds, shouts, arms up, rock gesture, girls on boyfriends’ shoulders with tears, fans crushing up towards the stage, performers jumping into the crowds. Hmmm, one word, MAD.

It is greatly mad, and chaotic as well.

You could easily find out from the Internet how to convince your parents to allow you for a rock show.

The tips are, to plan early and make a schedule in advance, to clarify the venue and band information for your parents, and better to purchase the ticket with your own money, to choose trustworthy friends for companion, and for girls in particular, do not wear too little.

After all, it is a privilege given by your parents to go to a concert, it is not a right unfortunately.

However, it is the freshest and proudest moment when watching a live show for the first time.

When the big day comes, posters are everywhere around the venue. When you enter the space, there are millions like you with same excitement and expectations.

Besides massive venues like Wembley stadium and O2 Arena Theatre, thousands of shows
are going on in every district in London, either big or small ones. To rock concert, even small venues with only capacity of hundreds could become historic. For such an enthusiast of rock music like me, within every year, I swear my attendance for big live shows is no less than one.

同事的兒子就要滿16歲了,請求媽媽答應讓他跟同伴去看獨立搖滾演唱會。只聽古典音樂的華裔媽媽當然沒去過也沒聽說過這些 場地,於是來問我演唱會是不是很瘋狂,混亂,不安全。

沒錯。

想起搖滾現場,已經足以讓你的腦子裡出現沸騰的場面,全場手臂高舉,比著那個Rock的手勢,騎在男友肩上淚流滿面的長髮美女,互相碰撞著努力擠向舞臺的粉絲,縱身跳入人群的主唱。

是很瘋狂,很混亂。

互聯網上,很容易可以搜索到這樣的問題:怎樣說服父母允許你去看搖滾音樂會。

答案是:提早計劃,給父母過目場地及樂隊照片、資料、計劃行程,最好掏自己的零花錢買票,選擇父母也可以接受的音樂和同伴,女孩呢不能穿得太暴露。

總之,看演唱會,只是特權,而非權利,父母賦予才可以有。

然而,實在沒有什麼比第一次進入演唱會現場更讓人感到既陌生又自豪的了。

每一個現場場地,牆上都掛著你的英雄們,踏入場內,全場都是跟你有同樣期待的夥伴。

除了大型的萬人球場溫布利(Wembley Stadium),O2千禧劇場(O2 Arena)外,倫敦城東西南北不管哪個方向,每一地段,都有許多小型演唱會現場場地,雖然只容納幾百或上千人,但也上 演過搖滾史上的經典。我在倫敦生活的每一年的記憶里,也都少不了這些現場畫面。

 

HMV Hammersmith Apollo

Starting from one of the UK’s largest and best-preserve original theatres, I would say HMV Hammersmith Apollo is a major live entertainment venue located in west London. Established in 1932, Hammersmith Apollo is designed in the Art Deco styled by renowned theatre architect Robert Cromie. Relief sculptures are seen everywhere on the walls, and a nice café locates on the foyer area. After a few restoration projects, the capacity today reaches 5039 (standing) and 3632 (sitting).

Many legendary acts of the day occurred here, including The Beatles and John Cash, and the former had their 38 shows in 21 nights within two years (1964-1965).

Even you haven’t been here, you may have seen from screens. In 1973, David Bowie had his ‘farewell’ concert here as Ziggy Stardust. The renowned American music filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker followed him and made the documentary at the theatre, detailing his every moment from backstage to front. The hit single “Starman” and the album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” as well as the androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust created by Bowie brought him to the top of his career. Bowie’s impact at that time, as described by biographer David Buckley, “challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day” and “created perhaps the biggest cult in popular culture”. The documentary received a full theatrical release in 1983 and DVD released latter.

From 2000 and onwards, performers have included Kylie Minogue, Prince, Toris Amos, Avril Lavigne, Dream Theatre, Slipknot to name but a few.

 

HMV 哈默史密斯·阿波羅劇場

從倫敦的西邊開始,有HMV哈默史密斯·阿波羅劇 場,1932年建成,裝飾風藝術(Art Deco)建築風格,劇 場牆面有浮雕裝飾,站席最多能容納5000人,座席可容 納3632人,酒吧設在劇場外的大廳。

1964年和65年,披頭士(The Beatles)21個晚上在這裡 演出了38場;1966年,強尼 · 卡什(Johnny Cash)在這 裡登臺。即使你沒來過,你可能也已經在電影裡見過 了。1973年,大衛·鮑伊(David Bowie)在這裡最後一次 以Ziggy Stardust演出,美國音樂紀錄片先鋒導演彭尼 貝克(D.A.Pennebaker)拍攝了錄影帶,記錄大衛·鮑 伊的台前幕後。大衛·鮑伊的主打單曲“Starman”和專 輯 “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” 以及他的舞臺裝扮在當時的威力,就像人物 傳記作家大衛 · 巴克利(David Buckley)描述的那樣 “ 挑戰了當時搖滾音樂的核心信仰”和“創造了流行史上最 大的教派”。1983年這部音樂紀錄片發行了電影,之後還 出版了DVD。

2000年後,在HMV哈默史密斯·阿波羅劇場登臺的明 星包括凱利 · 米洛(Kylie Minogue)、普林斯(Prince) 、多莉 · 艾莫絲(Tori Amos)、艾薇兒(Avril Lavigne)、 夢劇場樂隊(Dream Theater)、活結樂隊(Slipknot)。

 

O2 Academy Brixton

With magnificent Art Deco interior as HMV Hammersmith Apollo theatre, O2 Academy Brixton in south London is a must-visit for music lovers. It was not a music venue till1983. With a capacity of 4921 (standing) and 2391(sitting), it is truly one of a kind on the circuit and combines the feeling of an electrifying arena size atmosphere, with great views because of its sloping floor and incredible capacities for production.

Being hailed London’s flagship venue, O2 Academy Brixton had many successful shows on. The New Music Express (NME) music awards have been hold here every year since 1994. Several acts have played five nights in a row at the Academy. They include Rammstein, Iron Maiden, the Clash, Deborah Harry, the Prodigy, Arcade Fire, Nine Inch Nails, Bob Dylan, Hard-Fi and the Sex Pistols.

Its unbeatable audio system impresses thousands and a few dozen live albums have been recorded here. In 1996, Leftfiled caused structural damage while setting the record for the loudest concert at the venue. Their set was so loud plaster fell from the walls on to the crowd.

I witnessed Korn’s show at the Academy, death metal music was amazingly thrilling by the contrast of classical relief on the roof. Compared with HMV Hammersmith Apollo, seated places are located
in upper floor while standing ones are downstairs. The most considerate thing is, the bar is set inside the theatre, so you won’t miss any scenes when you want your cup filled up.

 

O2布利克斯頓學院

同樣是裝飾風藝術(Art Deco)的建築風,倫敦南面有O2布利克斯頓學院,1983年開始 轉換成音樂現場場地,最多站席能容納4921人,座席可容納2391人。球狀屋頂的門廳, 亮著的霓虹燈是每晚演出的樂隊名稱。

作為大型的非體育場館的場地,布利克斯頓學院有許多成功的演出。從1994年開始,每 年的NME音樂大獎(New Music Express Awards)都在這裡舉行。著名搖滾樂隊德國戰 車(Rammstein)、鐵娘子樂隊(Iron Maiden)、沖擊合唱團(The Clash)、狄波拉 · 哈利(Deborah Harry)、 神童樂隊(The Prodigy)、 拱廊之火樂隊(Arcade Fire)、 九寸釘樂隊(Nine Inch Nails)、 鮑勃 · 迪倫(Bob Dylan)、 HARD-Fi樂隊和性手槍樂隊 (Sex Pistols)也都在這裡開過5場演唱會。

布利克斯頓學院的聲音系統聽眾評價相當高,許多現場演出都被錄製成音樂錄影帶並發 行DVD。在1996年左外野二人組(Leftfield)演出的時候有個最著名的事故,貝斯聲音太 大而震到天頂的石灰紛紛脫落墜下。

我在這裡看過科恩樂隊(Korn)的現場,死亡金屬風音樂(Death Metal)在屋頂浮雕天 台的映襯下氣勢逼人。比起HMV哈默史密斯阿波羅劇場,它的樓上是座席,樓下是斜坡 的站席,而酒吧就在劇場內,即使在演出過程中要補充飲料也不會錯過任何精彩瞬間。

 

KOKO

In Camden High Street, which is regarded as the heart of punk, there locates KOKO with a capacity of 1500. Established in 1900, KOKO has delicate interior design, so does its website. In front of the square-shape stage, there is a dancing area accommodating 400. Each floor (four-floor totally) has separated bar and balcony. It is nothing nicer than enjoying drinks and live shows on the balcony. To me, I would say KOKO theatre is the most luxurious venue, not one of them, but the only one.

In 1983, Madonna had her historic UK debut show at KOKO. Celebrities show up here from time to time, while musical legends have graced KOKO’s stage: from My Chemical Romance to Mika, from Coldplay to Red Hot Chili Peppers, from Babyshambles to Sir Elton Johns.

The intimate atmosphere at KOKO is unforgettable. I watched a live show by the best new artist of 2009̶La Roux. There are no bars or gap space between the stage and the viewing place. Luckily enough, I grabbed the first row and the performers were so close at hand. The lead singer’s make-up, sweats make everything so real and a word or a look from her just make my heart melt.

 

可可劇場

回到朋克音樂的的中心,在肯頓高街(Camden High Street) 有這家可可劇場,可容納1500人,劇場於1900年建成,精 緻的室內裝飾,連網站也保持同樣的設計風格。方形的舞 臺前方是可容納400人的舞池,4個樓層每層都有獨立的酒 吧和陽臺,靠著陽臺邊小口嘬著酒,一邊看著現場表演, 可可劇場不愧是倫敦最奢華的現場,沒有之一。

1983年,麥當娜(Madonna)的英國首場演出就是在 這個場地。時尚名人也常在此出入,我的化學浪漫樂隊 (My Chemical Romance)、米卡(Mika)、酷玩樂隊 (Coldplay)、嗆辣紅椒合唱團(Red Hot Chili Peppers)、 步履蹣跚樂隊(Babyshambles)這些有影響力的樂隊也在 這裡開過專場。

我看過2009年英倫最佳新人樂路克思樂隊(La Roux),在 這個舞臺和觀眾沒有間隔的場地,搶到麥克風前第一排的 位置,於是整個樂隊伸手可及。她的妝容和汗水都清晰在 目,每一個眼神,也能直接傳遞到心裡。

 

Cargo London

When it comes to east London, a live music venue called Cargo is situated
in the Shoreditch area, where you could find the famous street art works by Banksy. At Cargo, either inside the courtyard or in the street, great graffiti by Banksy are in full view. Not only Banksy, Cargo is also the club for graffiti artists, for many exhibitions are often held here.

In fact, Cargo is a popular venue for cool DJs, and many avant-garde music performances take place here. Cargo could accommodate 500 only, so before the show starts you’d better arrive early and grab a good place for better views. Otherwise, you could see nothing but heads! I would recommend arriving in the early evening and indulge yourself with the sun, the breeze and delicious South American food at the courtyard bench. Superb!

No matter the shows by worldwide known stars or underground bands, thousands and thousands are on stage in London every day. Summer is the best time for outdoor shows since music festivals are here and there every weekend. However in London, right in the corner, there might be a superstar of tomorrow performing right there. So do not overlook small venues as they got their charms̶closer and closer. In NME’s word, let’s keep ‘live’ music ‘alive’!

 

Cargo

位於老街(Old Street)的Cargo酒吧,坐落在街頭塗鴉大 師班克西(Banksy)作品的中心區索迪治(Shoreditch)。 班克西的作品在庭院里和街外都可以看到,不僅班克西,這 裡是塗鴉藝術家們的俱樂部,時常也會舉辦作品展。事實 上Cargo酒吧是著名的DJ場地,也有不少先鋒音樂的演出。

Cargo酒吧可以容納500人,演出沒開始的時候就得占好地 方。Cargo經常人滿為患,舞臺離觀眾也非常近。如果來晚 了,恐怕就只能看到前面的人頭了。値得一提的是,如果提 前在下午到達的話,庭院有舒適的木頭長凳,低垂的樹蔭, 夏天非常享受。這條街上也有不少美食,一些南美風格的餐 廳也非常美味。

不論世界級的明星或是沒有簽約的地下獨立樂隊,每天在 倫敦都有不同風格的樂隊在現場演出。雖然夏天在英國幾 乎每個週末都有大型戶外音樂節,但就在轉彎的街角,可能 就有明日之星在登臺。於是小場地也有它的魅力,更接近一 些,更親近一些。就像NME(New Music Express)雜誌說 的:Let’s Keep Live Music Alive.

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Tips 小貼士

HMV Hammersmith Apollo2 Queen Caroline Street,
Hammersmith, London, W6 9QH

http://venues.meanfiddler.com/apollo/home

 

O2 Academy Brixton

211 Stockwell Road, London, SW9 9SL

http://www.o2academybrixton.co.uk/

 

KOKO

1A Camden High Street, London, NW1 7JE

www.koko.uk.com

 

Cargo London

83 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3AY

www.cargo-london.com