Love live music? Leicester has a brilliant scene. Here’s a list of nine venues that are well worth your time.
De Montfort Hall
The grande dame of venues in Leicester that has hosted some of the world’s most famous acts since it opened in 1913. It’s Leicester’s biggest entertainment venue with a capacity of 2,200. There is also an outdoor amphitheatre with a 7,000 capacity which held summer concerts in August headlined by the likes of Years and Years and Groove Armada. This is also the place to go if you like your classical. World-class symphony orchestra The Philharmonia – who have a residency at the hall and are partners with DMU - offer great student discounts.
Previous – The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Busted, Susan Boyle
This High Street venue is the place to see bands on the up. Its compact basement with 150 capacity is a cracking place to catch new music for not very much money. And when the bands move on to bigger and better things – which they often do - you can reel off the classic ‘I saw them in Leicester before they were massive’. It’s also a must visit venue during the Leicester Comedy Festival. Check out the not-so-secret roof terrace with views of Leicester Cathedral.
Previous – Royal Blood, George Ezra, Easy Life, Jon Richardson, Seann Walsh, Rhodd Gilbert
2Funky Music Café
The undisputed home of Leicester’s sound system culture, the Music Café – which is a short hop from the DMU campus – is where to go if you like your bass so trouser-shakingly low that your calf muscles feel like they’re melting. Pulls in some of the great names in Dub, Hip Hop and R’n’B. The regular Dub Cub nights – celebrating new talent - are well worth your time. The neighbouring 2 Funky Street Kitchen does great BBQ and DJ events.
Previous – KRS-1, Wu Tang Clan’s GZA, Emperorfari, Jah Youth
Based behind a tower block on Clyde Street, off Humberstone Gate, The Musician puts on everything from blues and folk to indie bands and tribute acts. It also serves cask ales. Décor is old gig posters celebrating bands who have previously graced its stage.
Previous – The Lovely Eggs, The Pretty Things, Fred Zeppelin, Pearl Jamm
Not just a great gig venue upstairs but a very cool, laid back bar downstairs too. It’s open until 4am every day. The venue is home to live music and comedy, as well as film nights and their famous silent disco. People travel many yards to sup on the legendary Long Island Iced Teas while taking in a band. As well as the huge cocktail menu and wide choice of beers there is an excellent garden for chilling after a gig. It’s their 15th anniversary this year. Happy Birthday Firebug.
Previous – Mark Morrison, Personal Best, Kermes
Recently refurbished and now has an upstairs and a downstairs venue. A great supporter of local acts but is also a popular stop off for touring bands. Pulls in a young, loyal crowd who know their onions. Popular for hardcore, emo and punk. And onions.
Previous – Just The Tonic comedy nights, Bleed Again, Fatherson
This is the home of British basketball champions Leicester Riders and is a cavernous venue able to seat more than 2,500. When the court’s not full of very tall people shooting hoops, it’s transformed into a venue for Asian music superstars, covering everything from Bollywood to Ghazal to Indian classical.
Previous – Leicester Riders home fixtures
02 Academy and 02Academy2
Two venues under one roof that pull in some of the UK’s biggest names from Stormzy to Idles. The main arena can hold 1,500 people. It’s a bit of a trek up the London Road but well worth it. Only minor gripe? Let’s just say you don’t go there for the beer. The O2 offers great opportunities for local bands to support big acts too.
Previous – Stormzy, Idles, Metronomy, Courteeners, Primal Scream
Down by the Cultural Quarter, which is also home to Curve theatre and The Phoenix cinema, the street art-plastered Soundhouse is where to go if you like your music loud and/or more left field. You’ll often find bands play here one week and are then doing a session on BBC 6 Music the next. Runs laid back acoustic sessions in the summer in the wonderfully decorated back yard.
Previous – Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind, Teeth of the Sea, Acid Cannibals, Damo Suzuki