The unmissable musical landmarks around the UK
Embark on a musical pilgrimage across the UK with the SEAT Arona
Being a true music fan isn’t just about amassing a huge collection of albums – it’s about having a connection with the songs and artists you love the most. The UK boasts a rich musical history, full of landmarks instantly recognisable to passionate music lovers.
From Somerset to Scotland, by way of Beatles and BRIT Awards locations, a musical pilgrimage across the UK is as easy as throwing together a playlist and hitting the road - in this case we’d recommend jumping behind the wheel of a SEAT Arona to travel in comfort and style. Do your thing and visit these 13 locations to relive some iconic British music moments.
Worthy Farm, Somerset
There’s no Glastonbury Festival in 2018 as the site has a ‘fallow year’ to get some much-needed recovery time. With that in mind, when better than now to make the journey to Somerset and see the location etched in music history? Everyone from Beyoncé to Bruce Springsteen, Radiohead and The Rolling Stones have headlined Glastonbury, making it a music landmark of mythic proportion.
Beachy Head, Eastbourne
The chalk sea cliff in East Sussex provided the backdrop for David Bowie’s surreal Ashes to Ashes music video in 1980. At the time it was the most expensive promo ever produced, costing a cool £250,000. Beachy Head was also a favourite of The Cure, who shot videos for Just Like Heaven and Close to Me there. Also of interest? The Who rock opera Quadrophenia’s final scene saw Phil Daniels drive a scooter off the top of the cliff.
Framlingham Castle, Suffolk
If you’re after scenic country views then a drive to the Suffolk coast will take you to Framlingham, the market town where Ed Sheeran grew up. Sheeran has sold millions of albums and won every major music award going, but he hasn’t forgotten his Framlingham roots. His single Castle on the Hill is inspired by his hometown, and it’s used as the backdrop for the music video. Keep an eye out for Framlingham Castle, the 12th-century citadel which appears in the video’s final shot.
The O2, London
Drive to the Greenwich Peninsula and you’ll see The O2 dominating the skyline. Since 2011, the venue has hosted the BRIT Awards, bringing together the biggest and best music talent around. This year’s ceremony will see acts such as Stormzy, Foo Fighters and Rag’n’Bone Man take to the stage to perform, while Dua Lipa is the most nominated act with five nods in total. Outside of the BRITS, The O2 can pack in 20,00 music fans for gigs – in 2018 it’s due to welcome everyone from Katy Perry to Iron Maiden.
Battersea Power Station, London
Head north from Beachy Head and you’ll hit Battersea Power Station, the South London location shown on the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals. Inspired by Animal Farm, the album told of class division through mindless herds of sheep, angry dogs and ruthless ruling pigs. The latter became a Pink Floyd staple after the band flew an inflatable sow over Battersea for the album cover shoot then introduced them into their live shows.
The 100 Club, London
Located at 100 Oxford Street, the 100 Club’s history with live music dates back to 1942 when it was known as the Feldman Swing Club. During the war it hosted vibrant jazz nights before going on to feature everyone from Louis Armstrong to Glenn Miller. In the ‘70s it embraced the punk explosion taking in The Clash, Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols and The Stranglers, and later in the decade established a Northern soul all-nighter called 6Ts that’s still running today.
23 Heddon Street, London
If you want to see the place where David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust alter-ego first landed on Earth then take a drive in the SEAT Arona to Heddon Street in London. On a wet January night in 1972, famed photographer Mick Rock shot Bowie perched in a doorstep for the album cover of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. When news of Bowie’s death broke in early 2016 fans flocked to the location and turned it into a shrine to The Thin White Duke.
Sylvia Young Theatre School, London
If America has the Mickey Mouse Club (Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake), then the UK’s musical talent factory equivalent has to be the Sylvia Young Theatre School in Marble Arch. Established in 1972, the school is so prolific it’s played a huge part in shaping today’s popstar landscape. Recent graduates include Dua Lipa, Little Mix duo Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jesy Nelson, and Rita Ora.
Spillers Records, Cardiff
Wales may have produced Tom Jones, Manic Street Preachers and Stereophonics, but one lesser-known part of music history it boasts is the world’s oldest record shop. The Cardiff venue was established in 1894, first in Queens Arcade before shifting to The Hayes and finally to Morgan Arcade, where it still stands today. With the recent vinyl boom reviving muso interest in physical media, expect Spillers to be around for many more years to come.
The Cavern Club, Liverpool
A stone’s throw from the River Mersey, the Cavern Club was the birthplace of Beatlemania and the group’s second home in their early years. In 1961 Brian Epstein spotted John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best (Ringo Starr arrived in the summer of 1962), then named The Quarrymen, and quickly became their manager. They never looked back, going on to sell 600 million records and turning the Cavern Club into a global music Mecca.
Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester
A Sex Pistols gig at Manchester's Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976 is often cited as the most influential of all time by rock critics. The reason? Many of those in attendance would go on to shape British music for decades to come. The Smiths frontman Morrissey stood in the crowd along with The Fall’s Mark E. Smith, Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner of Joy Division and New Order and members of Buzzcocks, who organised the gig.
The Leadmill, Sheffield
Manchester and Liverpool might be viewed as Britain’s two musical hotbeds, but drive across to Yorkshire and you’ll find this unassuming flour mill-turned-live music venue. Opened in 1980, it’s helped kickstart the careers of Sheffield acts such as Human League, ABC, Heaven 17, Pulp, Richard Hawley and Arctic Monkeys. One interesting piece of trivia: on New Year’s Eve 1982, Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker directed a pantomime at the Leadmill featuring 50 musicians.
King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
This Glasgow venue only has a capacity of 300, but anyone there on the night of May 31, 1993, would have witnessed a piece of music history – the opening act was unsigned Manchester group Oasis. Creation Records co-owner Alan McGee was in the crowd to see his own band 18 Wheeler, but after witnessing Oasis's set he offered them a record deal on the spot. The venue also hosted early gigs from Britpop icons Blur and The Verve, while the likes of Radiohead, The Killers and Florence & The Machine have passed through the St Vincent Street venue’s doors.