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Brixton Academy

The Brixton Academy, currently officially known as the O2 Academy, Brixton, is one of Londonmarker's leading music venues, nightclubs and theatres. Situated in Brixtonmarker, South Londonmarker, Englandmarker, the building has hosted a range of leading rock acts since becoming a music venue in 1983. The maximum capacity is 4,921 (3,760 standing downstairs; 1,083 seated and 78 standing in the circle), alternatively the all-seated capacity is 2,391.


The Astoria

The venue started life as a cinema and theatre in 1929 on the site of a private garden in Stockwell Road. It was built at a cost of £250,000 as an "Astoria" theatre. The opening show was the Al Jolson film The Singing Fool, followed by a variety act, including Heddle Nash and Derek Oldham which was broadcast by the BBC. The building still retains many of its original features, including the proscenium arch and Art Deco interior.

Sundown Centre

The Astoria eventually closed its doors as a cinema on 29 July 1972. It was then converted into the Sundown Centre rock venue in September 1972, but was not a success and the Sundown closed down some four months later. In May 1974 planning permission was sought to demolish the Grade II listed building and replace it with a motor showroom and petrol station. However the redevelopment scheme was scrapped. The building was kept heated after it closed, and was used as an equipment store by the Rank Organisation.

Brixton Academy

In 1981, The Astoria, remodelled by local lad Sean Treacy, who later ran the entire site services, was re-opened as a rock venue called "The Fair Deal" with a concert by UB40 and an interior restoration, but the venue closed in 1982 due to debt. The venue was bought by Simon Parkes in 1983 and in the same year re-opened as Brixton Academy.

The Academy's success steadily grew throughout the 1980s with numerous reggae productions and it was hired out to major rock and pop acts such as Eric Clapton, Dire Straits and The Police for rehearsal. The venue was also used for video shoots for Wham and Culture Club.

In 1995, Break For The Border bought the Brixton Academy. Under its new ownership (McKenzie Group), reinvestment started immediately with a complete £500,000 refurbishment of the Art Deco building frontage to its original grandeur, additional facilities both front of house and backstage and a capacity increase to just under 5,000.

The venue is currently run by the Academy Music Group after a re-branding in August 2004, and hosts a range of live acts and club nights.

Music venue

As one of the biggest non-arena venues in London it attracts many big names and has seen many famous bands perform there. The venue has also been voted venue of the year twelve times since 1994 in the annual NME Awards, only failing to win when the award was sponsored by Carling. In addition the venue has won the Music Week Award for Venue of the Year several times including 2009.

The nearest tube and train station is Brixton.

Madonna played a special (not during a concert tour) performance at the venue in 2000, to promote the release of her album, Music. The concert was broadcast live online and was watched by a record-breaking audience of 9 million.

Heavy metal band Iron Maiden played a charity gig at Brixton Academy for their previous drummer Clive Burr in June 2007. It was billed as an intimate setting for hardcore Iron Maiden fans. The concert also featured Lauren Harris and the Indian rock band Parikrama, making them the first Indian band to ever play at Brixton.

In September 2007, the Carling Academy Brixton was announced at the venue for the Sex Pistols comeback concerts in November. All three gigs (8th, 9th and 10th) sold out in less than five minutes. A fourth and fifth gigs were later added for the 12th and 14th.

Rammstein, Massive Attack, The Clash, The Prodigy, Arcade Fire, Nine Inch Nails, Bob Dylan, HARD-Fi and Sex Pistols have all played five consecutive nights at the venue. The Mighty Boosh broke this record in 2008 with their second live show Boosh Live, playing seven consecutive nights.

Leftfield set the venue's decibel record in 1996. They were summarily banned from using the same sound system at the venue after the high bass levels started disintegrating the ceiling, resulting in showers of dust and plaster. They returned in 2000 using a different sound system.

The Smiths' last gig was at Brixton Academy on 12 December, 1986.

Sepultura played in Brixton Academy their last show with former singer/rhythm guitarist Max Cavalera in 1996.

The Pavement played on November 20, 1999 their last show in Brixton Accdemy.

Faith No More played their first reunion show here on June 10, 2009.

Them Crooked Vultures played their first UK show here, in support of the Arctic Monkeys.

Albums recorded at Brixton

Part of Rammstein's DVD Völkerball was recorded in the venue between February 3-5, 2005.

Hole recorded their 1995 MTV Unplugged sessions there.

Motörhead recorded their 25th Anniversary concert on October 20, 2000 at Brixton Academy entitled 25 & Alive Boneshaker, released as DVD music video in 2001 and as an audio album later in 2003 under Live at Brixton Academy title, the latter featuring the façade of Carling Academy Brixton on the cover.

Franz Ferdinand recorded part of their 2 disc DVD at Brixton Academy in 2004.

David Gray recorded his concert on 16 December 2000 as the album Live At Brixton Academy December 2000.

Machine Head recorded their live CD Hellalive at the Brixton Academy on December 8, 2001. This CD was released on March 11, 2003.

Moby recorded his concert on 19 May 2005 and a double CD of the recording was available to buy at the venue after the show.

Jimmy Eat World recorded their concert on 18 February 2008 and a double CD of the recording was available to buy at the venue after the show and also online. The show was a sell-out despite not having a major hit in the UK.

A live album was released immediately after all five Pixies 2005 concerts.

Videos recorded at Brixton

The ITV Pantomime for 1999 was Cinderella, which was filmed at the Brixton Academy. This was not released on DVD or VHS.

Tenacious D has an entire performance (their second performance) at the Brixton Academy on the second disc of their DVD, Tenacious D - The Complete Masterworks.

Faith No More had their performance filmed at The Brixton Academy in 1990. The performance was released on VHS and subsequently to DVD and is titled Faith No More - Live at Brixton Academy You Fat Bastards .

In Bed With Carter was filmed at Brixton Academy. It features a live gig of Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine (Carter USM).

The movie 9 Songs features numerous performances (e.g. Franz Ferdinand) all shot at Brixton Academy.

Suede's VHS/DVD Love and Poison, originally released in 1993, was filmed at Brixton Academy.

In 1990, AC/DC filmed the music video for their song "Thunderstruck" at the Academy.

Video shoots for Wham and Culture Club were held at the venue. Billy Ocean's video for "When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going" soundtrack for The Jewel of the Nile was shot in Brixton Academy.

Elegies, the 2005 DVD from Machine Head featured material record at the Brixton Academy while on tour the previous year.

The Sex Pistols are due to bring out a DVD of their five gigs in 2007. It is mostly based on the November 10th 2007 gig and is due to be released in 2008 some time but could be later.

The Mighty Boosh Live DVD was recorded at the Brixton Academy in 2006.

The video for "Who's Got A Match?" by Biffy Clyro was recorded at Brixton Academy in October 2007.

Moloko recorded a live DVD: 11,000 Clicks at The Brixton Academy on November 22, 2003. It was the last show of a long tour for Moloko and was likely their final performance as a band.

N.E.R.D. recorded their second single "Spaz" from third album Seeing Sounds at The Brixton Academy on June 14, 2008.

Bullet for my Valentine recorded their gig for the DVD The Poison: Live at Brixton at Brixton on January 28, 2006.

On June 26, 2009, Dave Matthews Band filmed the music video for their second single, "Why I Am".

Placebo filmed the video for their 1999 single Every You Every Me during a gig at the Academy.


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