Camden has history. At first glance, if you look at the high street with it’s shop fronts covered in plastic models of trainers and jewellery, and it’s customers covered in eye makeup and skinny jeans, it might be difficult to believe. But this place goes way back. In particular, Camden is the scene of a whole lot of music history, and Undiscovered London‘s new tour gave us the perfect opportunity to learn all about it.
Even just the meeting point itself sets the tone for the tour. You find yourself loitering outside a closed-and-slightly-grubby club in the middle of the day, waiting to be picked up. It’s more than just a club, of course. While it’s KOKO today, in the past it’s played host to all kind of bands, and very cool people. All very rock’n’roll. The tour itself involves not only the lovely guides who are also famous for their starring role in Undiscovered London’s East End experience, but also a troubadour. Or at least, a troubadour of sorts. Or at least, a man named Ali who walks around and sings and make us feel inclined to call him a troubadour because we’re fancy and possibly not 100% clear on what a troubadour actually is.
Anyway, after leaving the insalubrious surroundings of a nightclub in daytime, the tour proper starts. Once you trail up the high street – probably annoying quite a lot of pedestrians if we’re totally honest. I certainly got tutted at a good deal. As, I imagine, the rock stars of yore did – and wind up in some residential streets. It turns out the residents of Camden are hiding quite a lot of scenes of rock’n’roll history in amongst their super-nice houses and Wholefoods.
After having a look at how the other half live (and where they drink) the tour moves on to Camden Lock and the markets. There’s time to break away from the group and explore here. You can sample some of the street food options, pick up a bunch of super-cool trinkets, or just window-shop and cry inside about how long it is until payday. Um, not that that happened.
The elephant in the room on any Camden tour is, of course, Amy Winehouse-shaped so the next stop after the markets is the pub where her career effectively began. Having sung songs at intervals throughout the tour, the AMy Winehouse singalong is the one which easily has the most people who know the words. Members of the public who happen to be passing stop and stare in bemusement. They probably thought we were Rock’n’Roll pilgrims or something. We certainly had enough knowledge by then.
The tour ends opposite the Roundhouse with a mass-participation version of Blur’s Parklife. Which, if you ask us, should be the way that more tours end – Rock’n’Roll or not.