Music has from time immemorial found a warm welcome in the streets of London.
It is a nation that values music and is the main engine for musical development. The Renaissance and Medieval periods, all served as sources of inspiration for the development of the numerous popular music genres that are still in use today, such as jazz, r&b., hip-hop, rock ‘n’ roll, a variety of live disco, cabaret, and many others.
Young artists adapted American concepts into their own works in the 1950s, including “rock,” which finally gave rise to the 1960s and the British Incursion headed by The Beatles, which gave Britain a significant position in the rock and pop world.
The streets of London, as a major metropolis with a broad range of cultures, have some incredible street performers to admire. As you walk through the capital, you’ll notice acrobats, illusionists, and dance performances, but if you really want to include street recreation during your stay, there are five places you should go.
Covent Garden, The Piazza
Whenever it comes to street performers, Covent Garden is the best place to go. There are usually at least a handful of artists getting the world ready for their next song. The courtyard hosts a lively mix of entertainment, all of which must audition for timed slots, so you know reliability is assured.
Street entertainment in Convent Garden dates back to the 17th century, and the West Piazza is home to a variety of groups of performers ranging from escapologists to conventional clowns.
Covent Garden, James Street
Covent Garden is so prevalent with performers that it has two distinct locations. The James Street spot is most likely to have musicians performing in a variety of styles. The Park Grand Hotel Kensington is only a 20-minute tube ride away from both Covent Garden locations on the Piccadilly line.
You’ll be close to the famous busking area and have plenty of possibilities to see a street performance or two thanks to the handy Covent Garden tube stop.
The Underground may not come to mind when going to look for street performers, but it does have a flourishing entertainment scene. For the past 15 years, the London Underground Busking system has been in operation.
There are 35 approved pitches on the Underground to cheer up commuters’ and tourists’ days. Ed Sheeran (ranked #1 multiple times on the UK Singles chart)and Bob Geldof have earlier busked on the Underground, so you never know who the next big artist will be. If you’re staying in one of the hotels in the area, Hogarth Road, the Earl’s Court tube station is a short walk away.
Even without street performers, Southbank is a significant cultural destination to visit. Because of the high footfall on the banks of the Thames near the famous London Eye, there are usually plenty of buskers and entertainers. Expect high-energy, high-impact performances to amaze and brighten up your day exploring the streets of London.
Trafalgar Square is almost certainly on your travel list if you plan to see the highlights of the capital. Head to the North Terrace to combine sightseeing with some exceptional street performers. As you stroll the terrace, you’ll notice a number of living statues, as well as some aspiring musicians searching for their big break.
Any hardcore fan of the Beatles should not miss Abby Road. Along with the heartfelt words of love on the pedestrian walkways and brick surrounding buildings, the zebra crossing on this iconic corner, it appears to be an ordinary street corner.
Sounds of the Universe
Head over to 7 Broadwick Street, W1F 0DA, London.
Records by Phonica Given that they have one of the two remaining operational vintage Voice-O-Graphs, this establishment—famous for its assortment of house and techno records—may be the only one in the whole world where you may still tape a message straight to vinyl.
Head over to 51 Poland Street, W1F 7LZ, London
From Roger Whittaker to Ralph McTell their songs tell a story, and you can get the hands-on experience with the vinyl they put out.
For its extensive selection of blues, jazz, as well as folk records, Honest Jon’s Records along Portobello Road near Notting Hill is a well-known destination.
Roger Whittaker’s Streets of London
Ralph McTell wrote and recorded “Streets of London” for his 1969 album Spiral Staircase. It was not released as a single in the U.K. until 1974. According to McTell, there are 212 known recorded versions of the music. On December 4, 2017, the song was re-released as a charity single for CRISIS, the Homelessness Charity, featuring McTell and Annie Lennox. In 1971, Roger Whittaker recorded a well-received version.
McTell’s interactions busking and traveling throughout Europe, particularly in Paris, inspired the song, and the personal stories are picked from Parisians. McTell was going to call the song “Streets of Paris,” but London was chosen instead because he realized he was singing about London; there’s also another song called “The Poor People of Paris.”
McTell’s song contrasts ordinary people’s problems with that of the homeless, lonely, elderly, ignored, and forgotten members of society. McTell stated in an interview with Danny Baker on Radio 5 on 16 July 2016 that the industry he made reference to in the melody was Surrey Street Market in Croydon.
In 1982, the punk band Anti-Nowhere League released a piece of music on their debut album. In a retrospective review, AllMusic’s Ned Raggett called it “the undisputed highlight” of the album.
Ralph McTell agreed to write another verse to the song in March 2020, inspired by the Coronavirus pandemic gripping the world at the time.
Live Music Venues in London
If you’re visiting London for the first time, you can hear symphony orchestras playing everywhere, whether it’s at The Royal Albert Hall, blues at Ain’t Nothin’ But (a gathering place for artists and blues enthusiasts), or jazz at many of the bars (speakeasy-style Nightjar or Ronnie Scotts). Music lovers are continuously drawn to this neighbourhood.
Royal Albert Hall
On March 29, 1871, work on the Royal Albert Hall, which was constructed to further the arts and sciences (HM Queen Victoria placed the foundation stone), began. Find out what is happening first if you are planning a vacation to London. The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Coldplay, Adele, and Frankie Valli are just a few of the world-class performers that have performed at The Albert.
They are allied with Jeremiah Carlton Tower, Gore Hotel, and the boutique Milestone Hotel, all of which are within walking distance of the Hall and offer preferential rates to Hall customers.
Head over to Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP.
Ronnie Scott’s is a well-known jazz venue in Soho. This well-known institution has a distinctive vibe and is often recognised as the origin of British jazz. It is renowned for bringing legendary US jazz musicians to the UK, and it has welcomed performers including Miles Davis, Buddy Rich, Donald Byrd, Ella Fitzgerald, and Stan Getz. A relaxed jazz venue is located above the main club, which is a great compliment to the amazing subterranean club.
Head over to 47 Frith Street, W1D 4HT London.
In 2008, Café Oto initially opened its doors. A wide variety of experimental music, from free jazz and Norwegian improved to underground Japanese musicians, is played in its spacious interior. Be prepared for the unexpected, like a concert by the psych-rock powerhouse trio Bushmen’s Vengeance or even a talk by the composer Terry Riley, who is inspired by antique music. They run as a café all day, providing food with a Persian influence.
Head over to Ashwin St 18-22, London E8 3DL.
O2 ACADEMY ISLINGTON
The O2 Academy Islington, a performance venue located inside a mall, is significant to the London music scene. The tiny venue has hosted rock and pop bands as well as some of the most well-known contemporary musicians since opening in September 2003, including American hip-hop superstar Eminem.
Head over to 16 Parkfield Street, Islington, London N’1 0PS.
Bloomsbury Lanes is a 1950s-style bowling alley underneath the Tavistock Hotel where you may enjoy a drink (late licence), a diner-style supper in a cosy booth, dance, and a game of ten-pin bowling. On the weekends, they host musical events that feature live music and DJs. A party is always in progress. They also provide karaoke rooms that can hold 6 to 35 individuals in a group.
Head over to Tavistock Hotel Basement, Bedford Way (between Russell Square and Euston underground), WC1H 9EU London.
The streets of London have a lot to offer. The music, its richness, the artists, and their ambitions, it’ll take you on a roller coaster ride of joy and talent.
Ralph Mctell and Roger Whittaker are an ode to the London musical society. Their singing can brighten up the mood of even a lonely man.
The culture and the lives of these street performers in London are nothing but a symphony to the ears. When scouring London, do not forget to check out these streets and their amazing artists!