The ELL Music Trail – Eastlondonlines

Use the map below to start exploring some of East London’s grassroots venues, past and present. Pic: Jeanie Jean

Welcome to ELL’s series celebrating the grassroots venues, past and present, that make our boroughs some of the best for music lovers.

Many people will hail the 1970s as the best era for music – and that may be true. Flared trousers were all the rage; artists such as David Bowie, Lou Reed and T. Rex set the agenda of popular culture; and glitter and guyliner was the height of fashion. Magazines such as the NME, Melody Maker and Music Echo were directing listeners to the latest and greatest. Most importantly of all, there were more venues than you could shake a stick at. But the 1970s were a long time ago.

2023 was a bleak year for grassroots venues. Owing to financial pressures, noise complaints, and the domination of multi-thousand capacity arena shows, the number of grassroots venues collapsed from 960 to 835 in one year.

In their latest report, the charity Music Venue Trust (MVT) reported that 2023 was the “most challenging year” for grassroots venues. Iconic locations such as Moles in Bath and Harmonium in Edinburgh closed their doors for the last time, and many other venues only just managed to survive.

EastLondonLines has compiled a list of some of the most influential venues across Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and Croydon, with the most inspiring stories to encourage readers to visit these venues whilst you still can.

Over the next four days we will explore some of the most influential venues in our area. We take a look at how a successful music venue can be built from scratch, introduce individuals salvaging music scenes, and ask why Marvin Gaye was dancing in a Deptford night club in 1980.

There are some familiar faces, names and stories, but what we hope is that you visit these venues to keep them familiar, rather than memories of the past.

Monday April 8

Recommended For You