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Music Makes the World Go to London
Once upon a time, in the heart of London, a music scene was born that changed the world a bit, and Britain a lot. Camden Town saw the birth of Britpop, the ‘anti-grunge’, alternative rock scene of the 1990s, which was inspired by British pop of the '60s and '70s. Bands such as Suede, Elastica and Blur took pride in British culture, turning their back on the gods of grunge from North America and creating a genre that still has huge influences on music today. And it all started in one of London’s most colourful and vibrant areas – Camden Town.
The most remarkable feature of Camden is its character. You can’t help but be swept away by its bohemian, quintessentially British and quirky, cool appeal. The streets are lined with music shops, selling coveted LPs, rare posters and, of course, independently produced music. Britpop’s emergence from Camden’s lanes catapulted it to fame, making it an indispensible tour stop for music fans.
MTV’s studios are located along the canal in a modern pop art complex, which accounts for the odd famous musician browsing the limited edition vinyl section next to you in one of the many music stores. It’s hard to concentrate on which LP you’re buying if Prince is trawling through the pile next to you. It’s not surprising since he just might own the store as well – he opened a purple-painted shop in the early '90s. Camden is stuffed with shops, and its many lanes also host some of London’s most flamboyant markets. Look out for the Camden Lock Market and its surrounding sister ventures for the best deals in offbeat culture – books, antiques, fashion and music.
In fact, Britpop is one of Camden’s newer exports. In the '60s, the legendary Roundhouse hosted Pink Floyd. Over the next couple of years, Jimi Hendrix, Cream and The Doors performed to massive audiences there.
Today, the Roundhouse is an equally popular music venue, and weekends are packed with shows and performances. Camden remains a popular destination and a focal point for bands and musicians, who never find it hard to sell tickets here.
Vintage stores selling fifties lingerie and eighties t-shirts, pubs crawling with would-be musicians and brimming with the best brews, soaring stacks of colourful wellies, a canal overflowing with barges full of merrymakers – Camden always seems to be a music festival in waiting. These are the roads that inspired some of the nineties' most memorable, chart-topping tunes. Musical history was made and is still being made in Camden’s tucked-away studios. It’s been steeped in history ever since Irish immigrants made Camden their venue for rip-roaring flute and fiddle evenings at the turn of the 20th century. Music is woven into the walls of its houses and it’s impossible not to get carried away by the melody.
If you're passing through London and you want to go to one of today's bands' concerts tickets may have to be bought in advance. You’re bound to find yourself longing to catch a performance by one of Blur or Pulp's Britpop descendents if you wander through Camden for more than a few minutes.