28 December 02005

Great gigs in London for a tenner or less

This is normally a quiet time of year for gigs in London (as for on-topic blog posts) but one of the highlights of the first week in January is the Winter Sprinter series of gigs organised by Track and Field at the Water Rats Theatre (which claims to be the venue of Bob Dylan's first ever UK performance, in 01962).

This is the seventh year of Winter Sprinters, and it will be the third year Lucy and I have gone to one of the shows. The last two years we saw Herman Düne, and they're playing again this year, but tickets for that sold out in a few days, so we're going to see the show headlined by The Broken Family Band instead.

One of the great things about the Winter Sprinter shows is that you get to see three bands — some you know, some you don't — for under a tenner. Now there are some gigs I've enquired about in the last year where the surcharges alone — for (self) "service", (agency) "convenience" and mandatory stuffing of tickets into an envelope — were more than the face value of a Winter Sprinter ticket. (At this point I resort childishly to writing abuse in the Address and Credit Card fields and thus not completing the transaction.) With that in mind here are some other places where I've seen great acts at low prices.

  • Pirate Jenny's has been going since 1994 "with a mission to provide a regular platform in London for songwriters and performers from, or influenced by, the European tradition of literate, dramatic song". It's run by Des de Moor and takes place in the intimate Drill Hall 2, where we've seen the likes of Barb Jungr and Philip Jeays.
  • There are folk clubs all round London, but Islington Folk Club is my local, and features a range of acts from the relatively unknown to Martin Carthy (who seems to make an annual visit). Whoever's playing, the price is £5 for members, with annual membership costing £2. The programme for the first quarter of the new year actually overlaps a little with Pirate Jenny's, featuring Robb Johnson and Des de Moor himself.
  • The Windmill, Brixton puts on loads of gigs, and only a small minority are over a fiver. Last summer we saw five acts for £4 there. Being a lively pub it's a better venue to see lively and/or electric bands rather than quieter acoustic ones.
  • The Spitz is another local venue for us, with everyone but the bigger names (Beth Orton played three shows there in December) under a tenner, and several free 'showcase' evenings.
  • For anyone with a taste for the literary and eccentric, I recommend the Lyrics in Libraries mini-festival which takes place in the libraries of Wimbledon and Merton around Spring each year. I missed Momus and Anne Pigalle last year, but saw Gerard Langley, Jane Bom-Bane and Gordon McIntyre (of Ballboy) the year before — all for a fiver.
  • Still eccentric, but with more emphasis on improvised and electronic music, [no.signal] has started promoting gigs at the cosily organic Fleapit on Columbia Road. The cost is a donation (£4-5 recommended).
  • One place I keep meaning to go, but haven't yet is The Vortex jazz club in Dalston. Next month they have Polar Bear for a tenner and Evan Parker for £8 which ought to be reason enough — though Polar Bear clashes with the night we're at Winter Sprinter. [Update, 15 January 02006: we went last week; I'd recommend doing all you can to ensure you get accurate information about doors and show times, and about seat/table bookings, as we did not find this easy to come by.]

Even better than gigs for under a tenner are gigs for free. These include 'in store' promotional appearances, which are usually compromised, free music in pubs, which are hit and miss, and freebies organised by our glorious mayor, ditto. I've seen several excellent free shows at the Royal Festival Hall, including the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and Billy Jenkins — here are their listings of free events. The Barbican organises free live music in a different way, usually as an afternoon complement to the paid events in their many music festivals, so it's worth keeping an eye on that page.

I should also mention a couple of free Sunday club events that regularly feature live music. In the Pines is fortnightly, based in a pub in WC1, and tends towards the 21st Century version of psychedelic folk (how many more great lost albums of 1969-71 can there be to discover?). The Light Programme is on the first Sunday of each month in Stoke Newington. We saw Darren Hayman there last year — unsurprisingly it was packed.

Let me know if you can suggest other good venues or events for low-priced live music.

Posted by David Jennings in section(s) Cultural Calendar, Events on 28 December 02005 | TrackBack

Pearl - The Twist @ Olivers feb 7th 2006 Acoustic £4


Posted by: Pearl on 29 January 02006 at 1:16 PM

Pig Floyd will be performing their "Bricks from The Wall" set at:
The Tithe Farm Club
151 Rayners Lane
Dedicated ticket line 01784460094 Check out http://www.feenstra.co.uk click on Harrow for directions. Tickets are only £7 in advance and £8 on the door, my advice is to see em while you can at this price, fantastic value for money for a fantastic Floyd event.

Posted by: Pig Floyd on 1 October 02006 at 8:08 PM

Pig Floyd will be playing at The Loaded dog again on the 16th Feb, they will be playing a selection of Pink Floyd classics including tracks from Pipers at the gates of dawn, Meddle, Darkside Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here, the show also includes their 'Bricks from The Wall' set, see em @ The Loaded Dog - Leytonstone E11 4PG, only £6 on the door, see em while you can at this price, a fantastic night of Pink Floyd from one of the most authentic sounding Pink Floyd tribute bands on the circuit

Posted by: Pig Floyd on 3 January 02007 at 12:26 PM

Nice tips there..i also found this great article on free gigs & live music by young and poor here

Posted by: Steven on 24 January 02010 at 8:56 PM
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