London Astoria, 157 Charing Cross Road, WC2H OEH (map)
Tel: 020 7434 9592
Nearest Tube : Tottenham Court Road
Best pub for a pre-gig drink: Plenty of choice in Soho; Try Bar Bruno for an excellent pre-gig toasted ham and mozzarella focaccia. After the gig pop to The Ship on Wardour Street.
The Astoria is: A Ford Capri
Interesting fact: The Astoria is built on the site of a former pickle factory.
London Astoria Venue Guide
It's certainly not pretty and it could do with a lick of paint but this is one of London’s best live venues and a great place to see a band on form. One of the big selling points here is the general admission policy which means you can either mosh downstairs or head upstairs for a great view, depending on your mood. The lighting and sound at the Astoria are amongst the best in London and the crowd downstairs always seem up for it. Perhaps it is because it is so close to Oxford Street but it usually seems a different more up-for-it crowd to some of the other venues which can be full of jaded seen-it-all-before types.
The rectangular-shaped downstairs standing area has a flat floor, but it’s cozy size means you can always get a good view of the band. It is fairly difficult to get back and forth from the bar once you are there on sold out nights and it is definitely worth getting near the front with a full pint before the headliners come on. Alternatively the venue is so intimate that you can get a great a great view from the upstairs standing area and still feel very much involved with the gig. There are about 40 four-seater booths upstairs which are side onto the stage. I've never got there early enough to get a seat but it looks a good place to sit, if it’s a fairly sedate band you are watching.
The Astoria has plenty of gigs by bands on the cusp of greatness, so check their listings regularly. Ticket prices are reasonable too - I paid £12.50 to see the Arctic Monkeys, whom I watched from upstairs, which was fine as there are barriers to lean on, people still dance at the bigger gigs, you get an excellent view and you can easily head back and forth to the bar at the top of the upstairs area. Alternatively you can head through the double doors to visit the famous Keith Moon bar.
All in all in terms of viewing, sound, lighting, atmosphere, history and style this venue is hard to beat. It is scruffy, but that is all part of its charm. Unfortunately this classic London venue is threatened with closure. You can join in the campaign to save the Astoria here.
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I have always been quite torn over whether The Astoria or Koko is my
favourite London venue. I have seen great bands at both; the Arctic
Monkeys, Hot Chip and The Kooks at The Astoria and Babyshambles, The
Guillemots and Jarvis Cocker (at one of the Chart Show recordings) at Koko.
I think though as a gig venue The Astoria is just ahead of Koko. It is so
perfect for gigs, everything about it is geared towards seeing the bands
and enjoying the atmosphere. The downstairs area gets rammed but you feel
like you could touch the bands and even upstairs you really feel part of
things. The Astoria still feels perfect when everyone is red faced and
sweaty at the end of the night, the fact that it is rough round the edges
means no one cares about what they look like. I still love Koko but it's is
such an interesting venue to explore without even having to see a band. It
is so sad that The Astoria will soon be no more, for me it is everything a
venue should be. 10/10
View from the stage at the London Astoria
A packed night at the London Astoria
Not sure whether Keith drank here