Art deco for art's sake … the Eventim Apollo, looking glorious. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian
Capacity: 3, 487 (with stalls seating) or 5, 039 (with stalls standing)
Who plays there: Anyone and everyone who can sell the tickets. From huge stars such as Kanye West making fleeting visits, to MOR legends, to hard rock bands to boy bands. In the 1980s, when it was the Hammersmith Odeon, it was arguably London's leading concert venue, and was particularly associated with heavy metal and jazz-funk – both Maze and Level 42 would play seemingly endless multiple-night stands there. Hard-rock legends often return – Status Quo's Frantic Four reunion tour stopped here this year and last year, and AC/DC made a special return in 2003, printing up T-shirts listing all their appearances at the venue. Julie Andrews is among upcoming attractions.
Bar: Scores of them, upstairs and down, inside the auditorium and out. Sadly, the drinks are expensive and unimaginative – £4.90 for a pint of generic lager. If having a drink is an important part of the night for you, you are advised to walk for five minutes down to the riverside, where there are several nice pubs, perfect for summer evenings, where you can have a pint of something nice while looking across the water. Inside the venue, the balcony bar – though huge – can get hellishly crowded. The quickest way to get a drink is usually one of the four bars in the stalls foyer, which – despite being the first things you see on entry – tend to be the easiest places to get served.
Food: Yes, though you'd have to be very hungry to think a foot-long hot dog at a gig was a great idea.
Toilets: Both inside the auditorium and out. The circle bar toilets can get extraordinarily busy: despite serving the venue's biggest bar, they are minute.
Wheelchair access: Yes. The venue has a dedicated line for inquiries (020-8563 3800, then option two). There is no lift to the circle; however, there is a ramp from street level to the foyer, and there are no steps to the stalls. There are two viewing platforms either side of the stalls, each accommodating four access customers and four carers. The maximum distance from the stage is 30m. There is a dedicated disabled-access toilet, which requires a Radar key. In addition, there is a hearing loop system for rows J-R of the stalls and blocks 8, 9 and 10 in the circle. Guide dogs are welcomed in the venue, with advance notification.
Sound: Like many of the old theatres and cinemas, the cavernous nature of the Apollo can sometimes render everything into an incredible sludge. Really, you're dependent on the skills of whoever is at the mixing desk. There are no problems with volume – in fact, some gigs here can be punishingly loud (points accusingly at Slayer).
Where to stand: As ever with big venues, it's all about proximity to the stage. In the circle, if your tickets are more or less row N or further back, you're going to be a long way from the stage. In the stalls, you want to be out in front of the overhang of the circle – so ahead of row Y. For standing shows, it's such a vast space that really it's about finding a space you're comfortable with. If you're in the middle, it's going to be an awful fuss getting out to either toilets or the bar. To get forward without being crushed, and to retain your access to the loos, it's worth trying to make your way down the sides. You will lose some visibility of the rear sides of the stage, but that's rarely a great loss.
Overall: This is one of London's historic venues, and one of its best preserved. On good nights, the atmosphere can be tremendous as the sea of standing fans generates a roar like a football crowd. But it has its perils. It's big enough that young bands making their first step up to big rooms can seem lost on the stage. Conversely, though, it's an amazing room in which to see those acts who usually play much bigger spaces. When he played here in 2006, Bruce Springsteen really did make it feel like a club, his charisma filling every inch of the room.
Address: Queen Caroline Street, London, W6 9QH
Telephone: 020-8563 3800; ticket hotline 0844 249 4300
Public transport: Hammersmith is on four tube lines – Piccadilly, District, Circle and Hammersmith and City – with its two stations less than five minutes' walk from the venue. In addition, buses 9, 10, 27, 33, 419, 72, H91, 190, 211, 220, 267, 283, 295 and 391 stop at Hammersmith bus station, just across the way.