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Missed Glastonbury? Worry not – H&F is the next best thing

Categoriesnews Arts and parksnews

Image captionImage 1: Amy Winehouse on stage at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire in 2007

Hammersmith & Fulham’s iconic music and comedy venues put the borough at the top of London’s entertainment map.

No matter what tunes you fancy, you can find it all in H&F’s world class music venues. And if you’re a sucker for a good joke, H&F’s comedy venues are sure to crack you up.

From giants like Eventim Apollo and O2 Shepherds Bush Empire to the tiny but mighty Bush Hall, H&F’s got it all. You can even get involved yourself at The Distiller’s open mic nights or experience traditional music from around the world.

Here’s some highlights of the music and comedy on offer in H&F:

Eventim Apollo

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Image caption: Image 2: Keith Urban on stage at the Eventim Apollo in 2022

When we mention comedy and music in H&F, your first thought is likely Eventim Apollo. Eventim Apollo is a legendary entertainment venue in Hammersmith that has played host to world renowned acts during its rich history.

The venue opened as the Gaumont Palace cinema in 1932 and has had a variety of names since – Hammersmith Odeon, Labatt’s Apollo, Odeon, Apollo, Hammersmith Apollo, and Carling Apollo Hammersmith.

Design by architect Robert Cromie who also designed the Prince of Wales Theatre, Eventim Apollo is one of the UK’s largest and best-preserved theatres. In 1990, the Eventim Apollo was designated a Grade II listed building by English Heritage and was upgraded to Grade II* status in 2005.

In 2006, H&F encouraged the venue to reinstate the original Compton organ console which had been removed from the building in the 1990’s. The auditorium was filled with its’ sound after 25 years of silence.

The history extends beyond the building to the acclaimed musicians and comedians who have taken the stage including The Beatles, Elton John, The Rolling Stones and Bob Marley.

Notable musical acts from all over the world come to perform at the Eventim Apollo.

Eventim Apollo is also a prominent comedy venue – most notably for the long running BBC Two stand-up show, Live at the Apollo. Comedic royalty, including Joan Rivers, Dara Ó Briain and Sarah Pascoe, have entertained Eventim Apollo audiences since 2004.

Alan Carr will make audiences laugh at Eventim Apollo on 7 and 8 October. Find out what else is on here.

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Image caption: Image 3: Exterior of the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith

Bush Hall

Built 1904, the iconic Bush Hall is the only surviving dance hall of a trio. A publisher built one for each of his three daughters.

Throughout its history, the Edwardian building has served as everything from a soup kitchen in WWII to a rehearsal space for The Who and Cliff Richard.

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Image caption: Image 4: Exterior of Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush

In 2001, the venue was returned to its former musical glory after a refurbishment that replaced six chandeliers and rediscovered ornate cherubs. The grand space has capacity of 450 for standing events and 280 for seated events.

“Live performances are vitally important for the community, visiting guests, artists overseas, and emerging artists,” says Emma Hutchinson, co-founder of Bush Hall. “Instead of the constant digital means of access, the physical ability to be together is critical. Keeping Bush Hall alive as an independent venue has never been more pertinent.”

Bush Hall hosts everything from up-and-coming musicians to comedy and cabaret shows. Best known for their Youtube channels, Joshua Lee Turner and Allison Young will perform original music and covers for a Bush Hall audience on 15 July.

Famous comedian Phil Wang will take the stage on 5 August – get tickets or find out what else is on here.

O2 Shepherds Bush Empire

Since 1903, O2 Shepherds Bush Empire has welcomed giants in music and comedy including Prince, Adele, Amy Winehouse and Jo Brand.

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Image caption: Image 5: Exterior of the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire

The iconic venue with its stunning tower is the flagship of the ‘Empire’ chain designed by architect Frank Matcham. The O2 Shepherds Bush Empire has previously operated as a theatre and BBC TV studio.

From 1991, after it was converted into a live music venue, legendary musicians including Johnny Cash and David Bowie have taken the Empire stage and solidified the venue as an infamous entertainment space.

Now, the venue continues to attract renowned musicians and comedians.

Visit the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire website to see a full listing of what’s on.

The Duchess W6

This cosy corner pub is a local favourite for entertainment. The Duchess W6 hosts a fabulous Drag Bingo every Thursday night from 7pm. Expect live singing, lip syncing, prizes and a fun night!

The pub also hosts live music regularly – check out their Facebook page for upcoming events.

Brooks Blues Bar

Tony Bell, 78, and Ann Rosenberg started Brooks Blues Bar in 2003 in the basement of the Brook Green Hotel. The music group outgrew the space and has had many homes in H&F since then, including the POSK Jazz Cafe.

Tony works with musicians and venues to set up unique blues events. “I’ve always had a great love for jazz and the soul of blues music” he says.

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Image caption: Image 6: Pictured are Ann Rosenberg (left) with Tony Bell, founders of Brooks Blues Bar in Hammersmith

Brooks Blues Bar has hosted well-known blues artists, including Spikedrivers and Steve Morrison. Many artists have recorded albums live at the Blues Bar.

Dale Storr will bring the sound of New Orleans to the Brooks Blues Bar stage at the Parsons Green Sports and Social Club on 24 September – tickets available here. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming events.

Under the Bridge

As its name suggests, Under the Bridge (UTB) is a popular, quirky music venue located under Chelsea FC stadium, Stamford Bridge. The 550-capacity venue is an homage to historical rock venues.

Famous artists like Robbie Williams and Anne-Marie have performed at UTB. The Queens’ of Lovers Rock, Janet Kay and Carroll Thompson will take the UTB stage on 15 July – tickets here.

Other upcoming events can be found here – from country to rock to jazz, there’s something for everyone.

The Distillers

Are you musically gifted and want to get involved yourself? The Distillers pub hosts Open Mic Night every Thursday evening from 7:30pm. Book your slot through London Unplugged.

If sitting back and listening is more your style, the garden pub also hosts an Acoustic Night every Saturday night from 8pm. Details and other events can be found here.

Next Door Records

The quirky vinyl record shop slash gig venue, Next Door Records, is fairly new to the H&F music scene but proving very popular.

In August 2020, three young men Louis Ray, Alfie Aukett, and Thom Parris set up the trendy Shepherds Bush shop, bar, cafe, off-licence and music venue rolled into one.

“We don’t usually charge or sell tickets. There’s free gigs twice or three times a week to really encourage everyone to support local artists that have something to say and are writing their own music,” says Jordan Paul Kelly, a supervisor at Next Door Records.

4 to the Floor are scheduled to take the NDR stage on 9 July. Find out more about the line up here.

The Pocket Watch

This pub on Uxbridge Road adds to the musical history of the street.

Most Fridays, The Pocket Watch hosts FREE soundsystem nights and DJs, including Shepherds Bush resident Dan Green aka Daddy Long Legs. The soundsystem is Top Banana Hifi.

Details and other events can be found on their Facebook page.

Nell’s Jazz and Blues

Nell’s is a historic 350-capacity live music venue in the heart of West Kensington. Known for its jazz and blues, the relaxed venue often plays host to tribute acts for major stars including David Bowie, The Smiths, and Elton John.

Upcoming acts include Frazey Ford on 19 August and Omar on 14 October. For a full list of What’s On, visit Nell’s website here.

Music from around the world in H&F

Bhavan Centre

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Image caption: Image 7: Bhavan Centre sitar students

The Bhavan Centre in H&F is one of the 110 Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan centres worldwide. The Bhavan UK was established in London in 1972, and the current premises in West Kensington was opened in 1978.

“Our main goal is to promote and preserve Indian classical arts” says Anvi Parbhu, 35, from the Bhavan.

This year, to celebrate the centre’s 50 years, there will be special curated performances, workshops and exhibitions. The Bhavan hosts around 100 performances a year, including Indian music and instruments. Musical performances are not only given by well-known artists but also the advanced students at the centre.

As well as Indian music and instruments, the Bhavan also runs courses in traditional dance, languages and yoga. The centre has about 700 students and is open to everyone.

The Bhavan is offering a 10 per cent discount to H&F residents on any course this academic year. The open day will be held Saturday 10 September – sign up here.

More details about this event and what else is on can be found here.

Irish Cultural Centre

The Irish Cultural Centre, ICC, opened in 1995 and is dedicated to promoting Irish art and culture abroad. The premiere centre in the UK welcomes everyone from any background or culture.

The programme includes popular Irish music along with theatre, film screenings, storytelling, literature, art exhibitions and themed lectures.

The ICC hosts Ceol agus Craic Friday Night Sessions with traditional musicians every week from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. Community musicians are invited to join in the recurring event.

Find out more about what’s on at the Irish Cultural Centre here.

POSK Jazz Café

Located in the basement of the Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK) on King Street, the POSK Jazz Café offers a diverse musical programme including Polish Jazz music. The POSK serves the Polish community in London and is the largest organisation of its kind outside of Poland.

On Fridays and Saturdays, the Jazz Café hosts live music by artists from all around the world. On 8 July, a quintet including Polish jazz violinist and singer Agata Kubiak will perform to Jazz Café POSK’s audiences.

The Denmark Street Big Band will play jazz classics by legends including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis JR on 16 July. Get tickets for the upcoming shows on their gig guide.

H&F’s excellent entertainment offer

The borough boasts the legendary music and comedy venues mentioned and many more. And when Exhibition London  and Elephant West return to the scene after their Covid hiatus, punters in H&F will have even more options for a good night out.

H&F is also home to a Theatreland that rivals the West End. Read our article on theatre in the borough here.

H&F is the ultimate entertainment destination.

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