By Dan Aynlsey
Breaking out into the music industry is hard, but in terms of cities, there may be no better place in the country than Liverpool. With a thriving music scene, Liverpool is renowned for being the birthplace of many iconic, timeless bands.
With that being said, here are some of the best music venues in Liverpool for music lovers and up-and-coming musicians.
1. The Cavern Club
Was it ever going to be anywhere else?
The Cavern Club is an iconic venue that holds a special place in music history. Located on Mathew Street, it became synonymous with The Beatles’ early years and their rise to fame. It is known as the birthplace of the “Merseybeat” sound.
The Cavern Club was established in 1957 and quickly became a popular spot for local musicians and music enthusiasts. The club is known for its arched ceiling and underground ambiance, adding to its distinctive character.
During the 1960s, The Beatles performed extensively at the Cavern Club, racking up an impressive 292 appearances. Their energetic and charismatic performances drew crowds and marked a turning point in popular music. The Cavern Club became synonymous with the “Beatlemania” phenomenon and remains forever tied to the band’s rise to global fame.
Today, the Cavern Club continues to be a thriving music venue that celebrates its rich musical heritage while also showcasing a wide range of contemporary artists and bands. It offers multiple stages, including the iconic Cavern Club stage, the larger Cavern Live Lounge, and the intimate Cavern Pub. Each stage offers its own unique atmosphere, catering to different styles of music.
The Cavern Club hosts a diverse array of live performances, covering various genres such as rock, pop, indie, blues, and tribute acts. It continues to host both established and emerging bands to showcase their talent.
The club’s association with The Beatles is celebrated throughout, with memorabilia, photographs, and artworks paying homage to the band’s legendary performances. When you visit you can explore Beatles-themed exhibits, including the famous brick wall signed by fans from around the world.
The Cavern Club is the most legendary music venue in all of Liverpool as it established the most important band to come out of Liverpool, and perhaps the biggest band in the entire world.
If you are a musician or just in Liverpool and want to visit somewhere not only iconic, but somewhere which offers great music, you must visit The Cavern Club.
2. The Jacaranda
The Jacaranda is a legendary music venue in Liverpool. Affectionately known as ‘The Jac’, it has a rich musical history and has hosted performances by numerous famous bands. Established in 1958 by Allan Williams, The Jacaranda became synonymous with the rise of the Merseybeat era and the legendary band, The Beatles. It was at The Jacaranda where the band members, including John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe, would gather, perform, and socialise, establishing the venue as a pivotal meeting point for Liverpool’s emerging musicians.
Williams actually became the first manager of The Beatles, and in his book, ‘The Man Who Gave the Beatles Away’, he described The Jacaranda’s cramped basement as one of the UK’s first true multicultural venues. Williams said: ‘It brought together a mixed audience of immigrants, bohemians, and students to enjoy a blend of musical acts that ranged from calypso and steel drum acts to an emerging generation of Rock and roll bands.’
The venue has retained its original charm and character, with vintage decor, including red velvet seats, retro furnishings, and classic rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia adorning the walls. This nostalgic ambiance transports visitors to the heyday of the 1960s music scene, immersing them in a unique and historic atmosphere. To this day it continues to be a platform for local musicians to perform and connect with audiences, carrying on the tradition established during the Beatles era.
Situated in the heart of Liverpool’s Ropewalks district, The Jacaranda benefits from its vibrant and eclectic surroundings. The venue’s intimate setting creates an up-close and personal experience, allowing for a strong connection between artists and attendees.
Beyond its musical offerings, The Jacaranda has expanded its influence as a creative space.
It now includes Jacaranda Records Phase One, a record store and bar just down the road on Seel Street, where visitors can browse and purchase vinyl records, enjoy a drink, and engage in conversations about music and culture.
EBGBs hosts a diverse range of gigs, including indie, rock, alternative, and electronic music. The venue has a stylish and edgy aesthetic, with an industrial-inspired interior featuring exposed brick walls, dim lighting, and a spacious layout. This is then combined with a great sound system creates a raw, engaging experience.
Located in the heart of Liverpool’s vibrant nightlife district, EBGBs benefits from its proximity to other entertainment venues, bars, and restaurants. This makes it an ideal destination for a night out, where attendees can easily explore the surrounding area and fully enjoy the city’s lively atmosphere.
4. The Zanzibar Club
The Zanzibar Club has a high reputation for supporting new, emerging bands, focussed mainly on the rock and alternative genres.
The Zanzibar has a long-standing legacy, dating back to the 1980s when it first opened its doors. Since then, it has played a pivotal role in shaping Liverpool’s music culture by providing a platform for local musicians to showcase their talent. Like many of the venues before it, The Zanzibar boasts a compact layout. This closeness fosters an electric and engaging atmosphere, making every performance feel special and memorable, which is both beneficial for the musicians and the crowd.
The venue’s location in the heart of Liverpool’s city centre contributes to its appeal. Located on Seel Street, it is surrounded by a thriving cultural and nightlife scene, making it a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Its proximity to other music venues, bars, and restaurants allows attendees to easily explore and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Liverpool’s entertainment district.
Whether attending a live music performance, dancing at a club night, or immersing yourself in the energy of the crowd, The Zanzibar Club offers a memorable and immersive experience for music enthusiasts of all kinds.
5. The O2 Academy
The O2 Academy Liverpool is situated on Hotham Street, near the city centre.
The building where the O2 Academy Liverpool is located was initially known as the New Academy Building and was completed in 1905. It was originally designed as a warehouse and was used for storing goods. The building had a distinctive and ornate façade, featuring elements of Edwardian architecture. In the 1950s, the building underwent a significant transformation and became the Locarno Ballroom. During this period, it served as a popular dance hall, hosting live music performances and social events. Many notable artists and bands of the time performed at the Locarno Ballroom, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who.
In 2003, the building underwent another renovation and became part of the O2 Academy group, a chain of music venues operated by Academy Music Group. It was rebranded as the O2 Academy Liverpool, joining other O2 Academy venues in cities such as London, Birmingham, Glasgow, and Bristol.
Since becoming the O2 Academy Liverpool, the venue has continued to host a diverse range of live music events. It has welcomed both local and international artists from various genres, contributing to Liverpool’s vibrant music scene. The O2 Academy Liverpool is known for its excellent sound quality and lighting production. The venue has invested in high-quality audio systems to ensure that the music and performances are delivered with clarity and impact.
The venue is designed to accommodate live music performances and provides an intimate setting for music lovers. The venue can hold approximately 1,200 people, creating an immersive experience where the audience can be close to the stage and the performers.
Its history, with its various transformations and name changes, reflects the dynamic nature of Liverpool’s music culture and the venue’s ability to adapt to changing musical trends and preferences.
6. The Shipping Forecast
The Shipping Forecast is a vibrant music venue located on Slater Street in Liverpool. Named after the iconic BBC Radio broadcast that provides weather reports for maritime areas, the venue creates a unique, immersive atmosphere.
The venues interior has a distinctive aesthetic, combined with low lighting and intimate seating arrangements, contributes to the venue’s intimate and welcoming atmosphere, allowing attendees to feel immersed in the live music experience.
The Shipping Forecast tends to focus on indie and rock music; however, it is known to host DJ sets and club nights which provides a diverse range of genres.
District is a dynamic music venue, located in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle area. It has established itself as a prominent cultural space, hosting live music events, art exhibitions, club nights, and a variety of creative gatherings.
The venue itself is characterised by its spacious layout and industrial-inspired design. Its large main room provides ample space for live performances, while the bar area offers a more relaxed atmosphere for socialising.
District has gained a reputation for its eclectic programming, which spans across a wide spectrum of musical genres. From indie rock and alternative to electronic, hip-hop, and experimental sounds, the venue’s line-up caters to diverse musical tastes.
Being in the Baltic Triangle, it is surrounded by a creative hub of other iconic venues. This means it is a perfect place to enjoy live music, whether you are a musician or a listener.
8. 24 Kitchen Street
This is a popular music venue, again located in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle area. Known for its unique warehouse-style setting and eclectic programming, it has become a vibrant hub for live music, DJ sets, club nights, and cultural events.
The venue has an industrial style aesthetic, with its exposed brick walls and raw interior, creates a distinct atmosphere that sets it apart from traditional music venues. Its edgy and unconventional setting lends itself well to a diverse range of musical genres, attracting a wide array of performers and audiences.
24 Kitchen Street has gained a reputation for its diverse programming and underground music scene, representing various genres such as electronic, alternative, indie, hip-hop, and more.
In addition to live music, 24 Kitchen Street is known for its DJ sets and club nights, featuring local and international DJs spinning a variety of genres, including house, drum and bass, and techno. Beyond its music-focused events, 24 Kitchen Street occasionally hosts art exhibitions, spoken word performances, workshops, and other cultural gatherings.
9. Invisible Wind Factory
The Invisible Wind Factory is a multi-purpose venue located at Liverpool’s North Docks area. It is a former wind turbine factory that has been converted into a space for live music, club nights, comedy shows, and more. The venue has a capacity of up to 1,200 people and is known for its unique atmosphere and sound system.
The Invisible Wind Factory was opened in 2017 by the team behind the Kazimier, one of Liverpool’s most popular music venues. The venue has quickly become a favourite among music fans in the city, hosting a wide range of artists from all over the world.
In addition to live music, the Invisible Wind Factory also hosts a variety of other events, including club nights.
The Invisible Wind Factory is located in the Ten Streets district of Liverpool, which is a rapidly developing area with a growing number of bars and restaurants.
10. Arts Club
The Arts Club is known for its eclectic mix of music, from local up-and-coming bands to touring international artists. You can catch everything from rock and pop to jazz and folk on the stage here.
The Arts Club history spans back to 1814 when it served as the Royal Institute of Arts & Literature being granted Royal Charter in 1821, at that time one of the only Arts Institutes outside of London. Charles Dickens himself even lectured here during his time in Liverpool. Over the years the building has been a series of venues from Barfly, through to the Masque and most recently Arts Club.
Arts Club has 3 great live stages (the theatre space at 550 capacity, the treehouse at 450 capacity and a new embryo stage at 100 capacity). There is full in-house production, full screen LED Video, 4am club nights and a daytime events programme. Local live promoter Revo from EVOL Promotions will be holding the diary and are keen to hear from any interested bands, DJs or club promoters for bookings & hires at: info@Arts-Club-Liverpool.com or DM on Instagram @artsclubliverpool.
So, there is our complete rundown of our favourite music venues in Liverpool. Now, if you’re looking for live events to go to be sure to check out our What’s On listings and discover your next gig.