Live music and Liverpool nightlife have gone in hand in hand for decades, from the early sounds of Merseybeat with big names such as Gerry and the Pacemakers, through the heady days of Beatle-mania and beyond. Each year, Liverpool produces another celebrated band, with the latest successful offerings including the Zutons and Ladytron. With all these big names, it’s no surprise that there are many happening music venues. If you want to see some great unsigned local bands, or if you can’t get tickets for international music acts in your local town, it may be worth renting a car and paying a visit to the city. Here’s a look at the five of the best venues.
Cavern Club, Mathew Street
Not just a live-music venue but a club and bar also, the Cavern Club was made famous in the sixties as the haunt of the Beatles. The club has had a tumultuous but exciting past and highlights have included being reopened by Harold Wilson after the owner went bankrupt. It has been dubbed ‘the most famous club in the world’.
Nowadays, the Cavern Live Lounge is not a place to see up-and-coming bands but more a venue to see established artists. This is also the best place to catch a tribute band offering a taste of the magical bygone era of Merseybeat as well as a number of rock greats.
O2 Academy Liverpool, Hotham Street
The O2 Academy certainly hasn’t gained a reputation for being particularly avant-garde, but the venue is in an old warehouse, which gives it a certain charm. As well as being a good place to see the big acts, it’s also dedicated to offering a stage to unsigned performers.
If a well-known band is undertaking a national tour, their stop in Liverpool may well be at the O2 Academy. Thanks to its 1,200 capacity, it’s also often easier to get tickets to this venue than to one of the smaller and more intimate ones. If you’re heading into the city to watch a gig, it is worth checking if Liverpool or Everton are playing a home game. If so many of the hotels in Liverpool city centre will be booked up well in advance.
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street
The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, or ‘Phil’ as it is endearingly referred to by frequent concert goers, is much more than a classical-music venue. Located on Hope Street in a 1930s building and completed in the Art Deco style, the venue is dedicated to showcasing performances from a range of genres from jazz and blues to rock and folk.
Korova, Hope Street
The ultimate in cool, Korova is to contemporary Liverpool what the Cavern Club was to the city in the early sixties. Korova is actually run by Liverpool post-punk band Ladytron, whose eclectic music tastes can be experienced here in Hope Street. Mostly you can expect to hear indie and punk music. It’s a great place for an intimate gig and it’s highly likely you’ll catch a big name of the future here one night.
The Zanzibar Club, Seel Street
The Zanzibar is hidden away on Seel Street and has an almost legendary status in Liverpool. From a technical point of view it has an excellent PA system, but it offers so much more than that. It’s slightly bigger than Korova but gigs are still fairly intimate compared to, say, the O2 Academy. As with the Korova, the Zanzibar is a place where you are likely to hear the Zutons of tomorrow as well as playing host to a number of well-known bands. It’s small, dark and often sweaty, but the Zanzibar Club has given many a Liverpudlian their most memorable night out ever.
Wherever you go in Liverpool you are likely to have a great night. Whether you want to see a big name, catch some jazz, enjoy a tribute band or perhaps discover tomorrow’s indie heroes, Liverpool will satisfy your every musical need.