I love Birmingham, as well you might know, but a lot of the stranger/more specialist bands that I love just don't come to the Midlands. They go to the Capital where, I guess, you're going to get a larger crowd come along to your gigs.
I have only ever been to The Forum twice. Once (many, many moons ago) to see the Swedish Electro outfit The Knife and the second time was a couple of weeks ago to see The Glitch Mob. I have to say, both gigs have been excellent.
The Forum is in Kentish Town, so only a short walk from Camden (about 10 - 15 minutes away). I bought tickets for the gig online and was surprised to not have an option of receiving the tickets by post and being told on my confirmation to save paper and not print this out! This wasn't a problem, however, as they only needed my ID and confirmation number to collect the tickets at the door.
As per usual with gig venues in London, there are touts a plenty around the venue (buying and selling spare tickets). I would always recommend buying your tickets before the show from a reputable vendor rather than buying tickets off a tout (as you just don't know if they're real). The venue itself looks like an old cinema or a theatre. It's in a bit of a quieter area, but fairly easy to find (just follow the people kitted out for a gig through Kentish Town).
On my first visit (circa... 2006?) I had standing tickets, but on my second visit these had sold out, so we had balcony seating. D'ya know what? It's not very rock'n'roll to have seating tickets - but my goodness, it was a great choice! Once we were in the venue and had, had our bags checked and the obligatory security pat down; we were ushered upstairs to the balcony.
The first level of the balcony has dedicated toilets and it's own bar. 3 pints of lager was around £14.50 (which I have learned is pretty standard for a London gig venue) and there wasn't too much of a queue at any point during the night. We ended up finding spaces on the second level of the balcony, which gave us an excellent view and plenty of space to sit and to dance.
The sound in the space was phenomenal. Crisp, clear and loud throughout, once the band had started there was no way we were sitting down! There is a second lot of toilets (and bar) at the top of the balcony area, so you can grab a pint or slope off to nip to the loo during the gig without missing anyway.
I would recommend this venue if there is a band in town that you want to catch. Don't worry if you have to go for the seating option... you can stand up, dance your heart out and grab a drink whenever you need it.
No where to sit, which is normally fine, but I was on a crutch (didn't know I would be when buying gig tickets). I did manage to nab a spot near the back beside a railing and that helped a lot.
Lots of toilets in the ladies that were quite clean for a gig venue.
Staff where very nice.
Lots of warnings about pickpockets though, so keep your valuables in a safe place.
The gig itself was excellent, Skindred. View was good, could see whole stage and the sound excellent.
Since the closure of the Astoria (RIP), the Forum has become one of my favourite venues. I love that the venue and stage is very wide, allowing bands more space to have fun and giving the audience a more intimate feel. I love that the seating is GA, so dedicated fans who want to queue can get better seats than faster finger first ticket buyers. There are some venues that indescribably have a great atmosphere about them, and The Forum is definitely one of them. Every show I've seen here has been buzzing!
Sure, its a bit far out of the centre, but I like it for that. It feels like an island of fun on an otherwise normal street. And the slight inconvenience adds to the sense of going to an event, not just popping off to a gig.
Yeah, the bars are kinda expensive, but A. It's a gig, and B. It's London - it was never going to be cheap. But then again,a bar at a gig is a fairly standard affair - no one is going to expect craft beers and fine cocktails.
I'm gushing now, but really I **LOVE** the forum. What are these negative reviews going on about?
Oh, now I remember you- you were the s**thole I went to see CSS in years ago. I completely blanked that out because the venue was so bland. In fact I didn't remember it until I was standing right in front of it and registered the facade. I walked in and promptly forgot again.
Actually it did turn into a shithole literally because the loos flooded. It was disgusting.
A horror shell of a building, not awesome sound, floor didn't bounce and (justifiably not their fault) I forgot Justice are shit as DJs. Unless you were on drugs. Then they might have been like... B-?
Also, that tiny weeny space of a bar was just completely ridiculous.
Saw The Tallest Man on Earth here last night. The show itself was great, despite the myriad shortcomings of the venue. Most annoyingly, the standing area has no slope so those people lacking the requisite height will likely see precious little of the performer. My view from 1.85m (give or take) afforded me a decent vantage; my more modestly sized female counterpart struggled to see beyong the grizzly bear-proportioned couple (yes, male and female both) that did there best to stand directly in front of her.
Then there was the heat. It was a slowly-building heat, but by the end of the show I had stripped down to my undershirt and my missus, who is perennially cold, was also down to a single layer. Our carnivoran friends in front of us didn't seem to deal well with the heat either, as the odors their ample bodies released were actually enough to pierce the aroma of stale lager from the floor below.
And then you have the fact that I was forced to check my camera with the office in front. Apparently the HMV Forum has a 'policy' whereby cameras aren't allowed in the theatre. "But what about the 5000 smartphones in there right now?" I asked the guard out front while gesturing to the theatre entrance. "Sorry, it's our policy." Oh yeah? Your policy is archaic and dumb.
Thank heavens The Tallest Man on Earth is one of the best performers out there today (in my opinion), and the qualms I had with the Forum were not enough to ruin the evening. Essentially there are only a few things a music venue needs to do to make it a decent music venue; the HMV Forum struggles in some rather fundamental areas.
The only reason The Forum gets four stars instead of five is because of its location. KENTISH TOWN? That's practically Australia. Waaaaay on the other side of town for me, so for purely selfish reasons I have to dock it one star.
That being said, this is one of the better venues I've been to. GREAT sound, and the perfect sized floor to dance a little and feel the crowd's energy. I haven't seen the upstairs so I can't judge it, but my friend said it was pretty rubbish. I'll be back for another gig in a few weeks where I'm sitting upstairs, so look out for that review update! Get excited!
I love that most venues in London are really just converted old theatres. Everything appears grand... the walls and ceiling, the balcony, the acoustics. And then they throw some rockstars on stage and crank the amps up to 11 and all of a sudden you forget where you are and get lost in the music. That's the best kind of venue.
Also, the floors aren't sticky. WIN!
I know that The Forum is a historic venue and I should have tons of respect for my elders and where I came from and blah blah blah, but the place just didn't knock my socks off.
I split my time between the floor and the balcony and the experience was markedly different. The acoustics on the floor were good, if not great, and the energy was palpable - I felt like I was at a rock show (which is good...because I was). Upstairs, however, I felt like I watching the same show through a Youtube simulcast. It's a large space with a high ceiling, so I think more speakers are in order. I've seen more audio equipment in some cars than The Forum packed last night.
The angle of the lights upstairs was rather annoying as well. Perhaps better placement of the strobes and floods would have prevented all of us from losing our memories a la Men In Black (is.gd/P20k).
So basically it was too quiet and too bright. I guess I'm 50% of the way to being a curmudgeon and I'm OK with that. Damn kids with their baggy pants and their rap music and their sliced bread!
Now called HMV Forum, I went here last night to see Sigur Rós' vocalist (Jónsi) in his solo effort. Truly the most stunning performance I've ever seen in my life, I'll have to talk about the experience more on my blog. But for the time, being, back to the venue.
Easy to find, it's just over the road from Kentish Town tube and handily location next to a pub for pre-concert drinks. Good job too, as the bars don't accept cards - BUT HAVE NO SIGNS ANYWHERE TO SAY SO.
Sorry, but that irritates me beyond belief. It's probably for the best though, as at £4.20 (?!) for a bottle of Gaymers - that could have been very expensive. I normally don't whine at high prices in venues, but honestly, that's pushing it a bit.
We sat upstairs, which pleased me because the *outstanding* visuals were best viewed from up top. Plus, it got unbearably hot about 15 minutes from the end. I can only imagine how bad it got down in the pit.
I'll now always hold a special place in my heart for this place, but only because of Jónsi. However, I'd also definitely go back :)
Fun, rockin' place. Saw Bad Religion here.
Super easy to find, just north of Kentish Town tube, fast entry/ticket-taking, and a pretty large space in an old stage-theater. Plenty of bar space, coat check in back.
Funky acoustics/sound mgmt did definitely detract from the quality of the show, but the floor size is perfect and overall enjoyed the space and would go back.
The nitty gritty:
Bottom standing floor isn't sloped, but semi-tiered so it's really not all bad. I've been on the main floor for such illustrious events as Church (which now moved south of the river) and always had a good time.
Balcony: You'll actually get a decent view from just about every level of the upstairs, but be warned, the sound is a little off so it won't realllllly be loud enough if you're all the way up top and you'll 'just' miss out on the full effect of the gig vibe. There is a perk to standing up by the top bar though, and that's that you can actually dance... the only place you can do so upstairs...because if you try to dance near the seated bit in the balcony, staff will go running down to you and promptly stop any fun you may be trying to brew up. It's a bit tricky up there....my tip is to just aim for standing tickets downstairs if you don't mind being in the masses, because upstairs will be all sorts of hit and miss. Unless you hate dancing, then it's the perfect place to be....but why are you leaving the house if that's your thing?
It is kind of in the middle of nowhere if you don't live north-ish, and there's kind of a lack of stuff to do pre-and-post gig in the area... but... you could do worse... it'd be a 4 star experience downstairs, 3 stars upstairs, but I'm leaning down to 3 for my overall because of the variation range. You just can't win these days, can you?
I saw The Shins here and was really pleased with several aspects of the venue!
Things I always worry about when I go to music venues:
-The pain of standing the whole time.
-The intense heat.
-Ease of experience/convenience.
HMV forum pretty much knocked it out of the park in all of these respects! We got the unreserved seating tickets on the top level and easily got to sit in the closest section. We decided to sit against the wall of that section near the middle so we were jazzed to be able to lean back while we chilled (instead of leaning forward the whole time). Many people were forced to stand and could not sit in our section because the show was sold out and there was no space for them, but that only started to become a problem when the main act about started.
When we got there which was at 7 PM (as doors opened), we grabbed seats with ease and located both the bathrooms and the bar which were incredibly convenient. The toilets are just up the stairs easily accessible from anyone's seat so no one has to leave to the concourse or anything. The bar was EMPTY in the beginning so that's the best time to grab drinks, it only took a couple minutes and the bartenders are really friendly people.
The seats themselves a little awkward, it's like they were designed for people with short legs so your body crunches up in a weird way, but we got over it. The heat issue was a big concern for me because I hate how hot it gets at shows, but they had some oscillating air conditioning thing going on that successfully kept me cool. Towards the very end it did get hot, but getting some air from the fan every 5 min kept me content.
The convenience factor was also a thumbs up as the forum sits only yards away from the Kentish Town tube stop. Only took about 15 minutes from us to get there from Great Portland.
So yeah, I'd definitely see another show here! Great venue!
I went to see The Roots at The Forum this weekend and although most of my enjoyment was down to them being an incredible band, some of it had to do with the venue, which I rate highly.
As a sprightly, young music fan, I used to get standing tickets for every concert because I wanted to be at the front, hugging the speaker and as close as possible to whoever was on stage. Now at the ripe old age of 24, I may be getting a bit old for this kind of behaviour and so for the first time ever, opted for seated balcony tickets.
When we arrived and moved through the fast moving queue I started to worry that buying seats meant that you had to sit in them; I just wanted to be on the balcony for a better view. My fears turned out to be unfounded; the seating is comprised of tiered, cushioned benches that curve around the balcony. It was unreserved too so even though we arrived late, we still managed to squeeze in with another friend at the front.
There are several bars at The Forum, so the queues for drinks were nothing like what I've seen in other large music venues and they are inside the auditorium so getting a beer doesn't mean missing half the gig. It's very grand inside with a huge chandelier hanging from the high ceiling and gold detailing on every available surface. The only complaint about this venue is the sound wasn't particularly good, especially after the gig, the DJ set was so quiet it sounded as though the speakers were in a different room.
I came to see Manu Chao here last night, which was an amazing concert with an electric atmosphere. Everyone was jumping up and about for most of the evening. It was sold out, but still not terribly crowded. A pint of beer was decent at 3.20 pounds, not extortionate but you're not allowed re-entry. Might as well have a drink before.
It was not too small and not too big, perfect for an intimate concert. Its divided into two levels with lots of chairs upstairs, where you can sit with a great view of the stage. The cloakroom was terribly crowded at the end of the night, but the manager and security team managed the crowd really well (mini London mob... don't we know them well). Awesome concert, decent venue.
I have seen Porcupine Tree play here twice. This is basically an old gutted theatre with a balcony. My experience at the Forum has a lot to do with the band. Both times, the show was completely sold out, and I was in the very front next to the stage, and had a great time! Of course, when you're that close to the stage, there is no way you can get to the bar and back for a beer, so I advise to have a couple beers beforehand. If you get thirsty during the show, they may pass around cups of water to the people in the front.
On my second visit, the band had requested no cameras or taking of photos (which seems to be a Porcupine Tree rule now). So, they were searching bags for cameras, and holding them at the door until the end of the show. There was no way I was doing that, so I just hid mine in an inside pocket and it worked out fine for me. During the show, some guy not far from me pulled out his camera and held it up trying to get a quick pic of the stage, and security was all over him - twice! I felt lucky that on my first visit to the Forum, the band did not make that request, so I was able to get some great concert photos!
Overall, this is a great venue - probably the best place I have ever seen a show. It is very easy to find (just steps away from the Underground) and there is a fabulous pub & sandwich shop right across the street. If you go, get there early to get a good spot in the queue. If you have a ticket you cannot use, you will probably be able to sell it to the ticket scalpers out front. Also, I advise going to the swag booth before the show starts, because you will not want to stop there afterwards. If it's a great band, you may also be able to get bootleg swag out front afterwards. I was surprised they had bootleg Porcupine Tree t-shirts! =:)
George Clinton with his signature colourful dreadlocks and Parliament Funkadelic have been making music since the 1970's.
They have covered most types of music from Funk, to Rock and Roll and even a little Jazz.
Their only UK date was in North London's HMV Forum in Kentish Town.
The Forum was originally built as an art deco cinema in 1934 by Herbert Yapp, it was launched with a grand opening ceremony on 17th December 1934.
The venue was taken over in 1993 by The Mean Fiddler Music Group and was returned to its original name the London Forum. It was also granted Grade II Listed building status.
I was impressed with the space and sound that the forum had to offer, perfect a for sitting or having a little dance. Even though it was nearly full, it didn't feel cramped or over crowded.
Along with the Jazz Cafe in Camden Town, the HMV Forum in Kentish Town is a great little venue to see your favourite music legend come to life.
i'm so divided on my opinion of the forum, because on the one hand it is a beautiful, historic venue, with great sound and it puts on a wide variety of gigs.
that being said, when a gig is sold out it is a complete and utter shitemare. firstly, there always seems to be a massive queue, and most times it's extremely slow moving. the inside is so rammed it's difficult to fight your way through the crowd to get to the bar/bathroom/cloakroom or to find your own little patch of space. you really have to fight to get to your position and then stay there all night. good luck if you need the bathroom half way through!
the floor is also not sloped so i have no chance in hell of ever seeing the stage (unless it's not a sold out gig, in which case, i might be lucky), so really i'm more there for the atmosphere than seeing the actual band...because i can't, which is a bit of a shame. i'm not one for seating at gigs, but the next time there is something i want to see here i'll probably consider it.
Based in Kentish Town easy assess with lots of busses and close to the tube station. Great venue for alternative music with usual bands Dinosaur Junior, Mastadon, and every year they have the Release the Bats Night. This consists of a variety of bands that perform at the ATP, kind of like a one night festival. There is the basic bar with beers and spirits and mixers for average prices. The best thing is that even if you are at the back it is elevated so you can still see the stage, and the sound is really good.
Also saw the Tallest Man on Earth here last night. We had upstairs unreserved seating, so we got there close to 7PM. Finding the venue was no problem, and we easily got seats (up against the wall, thanks to a previous yelp review I'd read). The venue is nice, but I'll agree with others that the sound can be slightly lacking. Overall a fun night and good experience.
Saw Passion Pit perform there. It is a place that can get rammed pretty easy. Fast service at the bar though. Decent acoustics. Note it is a cash bar only so get money in advance so you don't have queue indoors
It's a nice venue, comfy seating upstairs, however the sound wasn't that good so I was a bit disappointed :-/
A very popular venue in North London, which plays host to many stars and allows you to see them in an intimate atmosphere; i saw Long Blondes here earlier this year and it was completely kick ass. part of the Mean Fiddler family, check their website for their up and coming listings because they really do host some great, obscure gigs. This is also the venue for a weekly event known as 'the Church' (thechurch.co.uk/home) - a day time club extravaganza on the Christian Sabbath that sees the whole antipodean population descend upon Kentish Town for some absolute mayhem. Not for the faint hearted, you can only purchase drinks in multiples of three, which are handed to you (in the unopened can of choice) in a plastic bag. Sawdust on the floor and strippers on the stage everyone is always dressed up - drag, doctors, nurses, cowboys etc. I was terrified when i walked in, and the feeling of walking out of a 'club' steaming at 4pm on a Sunday is pretty special. But that's just a taste of what the Forum has to offer. Like i said, check their listing frequently. The only downside i experienced was they had no designated smoking area.
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