Iconic London music venue Koko reopens with Arcade Fire gig after £70 million revamp

  • "I've come from Israel for the show" - watch Anna Geary's report from the legendary music venue

From Prince's six-hour sets to Amy Winehouse's roof-raising homecoming performances, Camden's Koko has always been a rock and roll home to the world's most popular musicians and on Friday it's set to throw its doors open once again.

The 120-year-old venue, which has been closed for three years following a rooftop blaze in 2019, has undergone a three-year £70 million redevelopment.

Canadian indie rockers Arcade Fire will deliver a special sell-out gig marking the release of their forthcoming album We.

Owner Olly Bengough said its reopening will be a “special moment” in Koko's long musical history.

  • Watch how Koko's extensive revamp unfolded with special footage of the venue

Bengough said: “When you know Koko as well as I do, we do unpredictable very well.

“Like Kanye West calling up at 5pm and saying, ‘I want to play tonight’, or Prince doing six-hour shows.

“Arcade Fire is in the same vein where we have a festival headline act who are just going to blow the roof off the place.

“They are going to do something quite special and it will be another one of those iconic moments.

“There is a reason why they headlined Coachella. They are one of the biggest indie rock acts in the world.

“I think it will be quite unpredictable, some of it, and I think it will be big production. It just fits.”

Koko closed in 2019 for refurbishment and was covered in scaffolding at the time of the headline-grabbing blaze in January 2020, which destroyed its famous copper dome.

The redevelopment has now incorporated three buildings – the original Grade II listed Victorian theatre from 1900 – plus two adjacent buildings, a former piano factory dating from around 1800 and the Hope and Anchor pub, which was a favourite of Charles Dickens.

The 50,000sq ft multi-use space will feature live-streaming facilities, a radio station, shop, late-night pizzeria and bar hosting intimate live performances.

Members will have access to a roof terrace conservatory, recording studio, piano room, library, hidden speakeasy, private vinyl listening rooms and a cocktail bar inside the restored copper dome.

Artist impression of the exterior of Koko in Camden Credit: Koko/PA

Madonna, Amy Winehouse, The Rolling Stones and The Cure, are among a long list of artists who have performed at the venue of the years.

Bengough bought the rundown venue in 2004 when it was called Camden Palace and spent years turning it into Koko which "had an amazing 15 years".

“Second time around, I think it is a really firm part of Camden’s culture and actually more importantly London and UK culture.”