Lefsetz sums up many of the reasons I loved living in the UK. Even when I was down to my last few quid before payday, I could still afford to see some great shows. The vibe really is different, and I've heard from a bunch of readers that tell me the Zone Strategy I wrote about in More Gigs Now tends to be a little conservative over there!
So much of this difference is cultural -- woven through the political and financial changes of the last fifty years. Strong support for noncommercial radio incubated a pop culture that celebrates new music instead of shunning it. Pub culture cultivates musicians by offering more places to play, with built-in audiences that have to be won over with quality. (Impress, or go home!) And a smaller market means that you can get on the national charts by selling far fewer records than you need to in the U.S.
Is it any wonder that we're seeing American bands heading to the UK (or, for that matter, Europe) to get good / get known / get fans? Of course, the challenge is on the other side of growing your audience. In the US, bands struggle to get known. In the UK, bands struggle to stay relevant, which is why building a strong audience and communicating well with them is even more vital.