Brixton Academy has long been my favourite gig venue, not just in the south but the whole of London. Regularly hosting a wide variety of live acts ranging from of the moment mercury nominated artists to the annual festive shows from the Pogues. They also frequently host popular late night shows with headline dj’s. The signature slanted floor makes for easy viewing even for shorties like me!
The history of the academy is part of it’s charm and like many other music venues in London it started life as a Theatre and Cinema. Which makes sense when you compare the architecture of venues such as the Kentish Town Forum and Shepherds Bush Empire, all with signature balconies. The academy has almost Venetian like qualities with ornate features, mock trees and a domed ceiling painted dark as the nights sky.
What’s more I’ve found for many bands I’ve been to see, playing at Brixton really means something to them, which undoubtedly makes for a special performance. Most recently I went to see the Parisian band Phoenix and as the finale the lead singer made his way into the audience by way of crowd surfing and was then held up by the fans and sang a complete song there, amazing!
If like me you’re a huge fan of the Academy, or I’ve got you wanting to know more, you might be interested in the recent book Live At the Brixton Academy: A riotous life in the music businesswritten by Simon Parkes who bought the Academy for £1 back in 1983. This was during a time when Brixton was a place to be avoided and one which was associated with riots more than music. It’s pretty amazing then to think that after it’s transformation from a cinema the venue went on to host everyone from The Smiths, Madonna to the Mighty Boosh!