As fa­mous faces, from Adele to El­ton John, take to the stage, Sarah Riches finds which gigs are hit­ting the right note

Where London - - Contents -

A guide to the cap­i­tal’s big­gest mu­sic fes­ti­vals, from Bri­tish Sum­mer Time to Melt­down.

London has been im­mor­talised by so many mu­si­cians, from The Beatles’ Abbey Road al­bum cover to The Kinks’ ode to the city in Water­loo Sun­set. This month sees London leg­ends take to the stage. What­ever you do, don’t miss the finale of Adele’s world tour (from 29 Jun), which is at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium. Born in Tot­ten­ham, north London, and an alumni of The BRIT School for Per­form­ing Arts and Tech­nol­ogy in south London, the star has won 15 Grammy Awards and an Academy Award.

Adele will per­form in the round, giv­ing you a 360-de­gree view. As she is keen to stay close to her son once he starts school, ru­mour has it this world tour might be her last. No won­der the concert’s sold out – but you may get lucky if you call for re­turns.

Af­ter a pe­riod of ill health, El­ton John con­tin­ues his world­wide Won­der­ful Crazy Night tour, which cel­e­brates the rock star’s 33rd al­bum of the same name (3 Jun). The outdoor show is in the sta­dium bowl of Twick­en­ham Stoop and is the venue’s first concert.

Back in town, you can see an­other legend, Phil Collins, per­form on his Not Dead Yet tour at the Royal Al­bert Hall (9 Jun). Af­ter a 10-year hia­tus, the ex-Ge­n­e­sis star has come out of re­tire­ment to per­form.


More than 65,000 peo­ple a day at­tend the Bar­clay­card Presents Bri­tish Sum­mer Time fes­ti­val, a se­ries of one-day con­certs which takes over much of Hyde Park’s 350 acres.

Since 2013, every­one from The Rolling Stones to Kylie and Tay­lor Swift have graced its stage, while 2016’s head­lin­ers in­cluded big-name artists such as Ca­role King and Ste­vie Won­der wow­ing au­di­ences. Pene­lope Boyd is head of events at The Royal Parks, which cares for the park. She says: ‘ The Great Oak stage has hosted the best global artists and 2017 is shap­ing up to be an ex­cit­ing year. This is the fifth year for the event which has cre­ated mem­o­rable mo­ments for hun­dreds of thou­sands of fans and in turn raised vi­tal funds which go back into en­hanc­ing this iconic park.’ Bri­tish su­per­star Phil Collins (30 Jun) kicks things off with his big­gest-ever solo show. Don’t miss it, as Bri­tish Sum­mer Time will be the only Euro­pean fes­ti­val he’s per­form­ing at this year.

Later in the sum­mer, Green Day will per­form (1 Jul) along­side Justin Bieber (2 Jul), Kings of Leon (6 Jul), The Killers and the Man­cu­nian band El­bow (8 Jul). Tom Petty & The Heart­break­ers (9 Jul) will also rock the stage for the only 2017 Euro­pean per­for­mance of their 40th an­niver­sary tour.

Missed out on tick­ets? Then make the most of the fes­ti­val’s free events, in­clud­ing open-air films, com­edy, daily Wim­ble­don ten­nis screen­ings, bad­minton, ping pong and a pay-per-ride fun­fair. 30 Jun-9 Jul. www.bst-hy­de­


Hyde Park isn’t the only place to catch house­hold mu­si­cal names live on stage. Lis­ten to home­grown tal­ent such as James Mor­ri­son (8 Jun), Will Young (14 Jun) and Van Mor­ri­son (15 Jun) in the palace court­yard at Hamp­ton Court Palace.

The line-up in­cludes Bryan Ferry (7 & 21 Jun), pi­anist Jools Hol­land (16 Jun) and ABBA trib­ute band Björn Again (17 Jun), plus soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae (20 Jun) and 1980s star Rick Ast­ley (22 Jun). The clas­si­cal duo Michael Ball and Al­fie Boe also per­form (23 Jun), while the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orches­tra play at the fire­work finale (24 Jun). Take a pic­nic or browse the food court, which comes com­plete with a Pimm’s tent. 8-24 Jun. www.hamp­ton­court­palace­fes­ti­


Back in town, the South­bank Cen­tre’s Melt­down fes­ti­val fuses gigs by well-known and up­com­ing mu­si­cians with free films, a car­ni­val and a party on the pave­ment concierge Ask your ho­tel at • Go on­line tick­et­maste www. fes­ti­val’s • Visit each web­site out­side River­side Ter­race. Since 1993, Melt­down has pre­sented a line-up of new and in­flu­en­tial artists cherry-picked by a dis­tin­guished mu­si­cian. Past cu­ra­tors have in­cluded David Bowie and Mor­ris­sey.

Each star in­vites their favourite artists to per­form in a se­ries of one-off gigs. Pre­vi­ous high­lights saw Jeff Buck­ley play his fi­nal UK show for Elvis Costello, and Pete Do­herty sing Dis­ney songs with Jarvis Cocker.

This year’s cu­ra­tor is M.I.A., a Bri­tish-Sri Lankan rap­per and vis­ual artist who has been nom­i­nated for two Gram­mys, a Mer­cury Prize and an Academy Award. She has worked with Madonna, Nicki Mi­naj, Kanye West and Jay Z, so ex­pect ev­ery­thing from nu rave and dance­hall to elec­tro and hip hop.

M.I.A. says: ‘I’m hon­oured to be part of Melt­down, among im­por­tant artists who have con­trib­uted to keep­ing it real in the past. I hope you rate my cu­rat­ing. I’m bring­ing to­gether new out­law mu­si­cians who have con­trib­uted to keep­ing things weird, ex­cit­ing, opin­ion­ated, loud, emo­tional, brave or off the grid.’

The line-up kicks off with Mer­cury Prize-win­ners the Young Fathers, who open the fes­ti­val with a choir, fol­lowed by a party at the Royal Fes­ti­val Hall (9 Jun). The fol­low­ing night, Afrikan Boy per­forms afrobeats and grime (10 Jun), while rap­per MHD per­forms along­side Nige­rian afrobeat star Mr Eazi (11 Jun).

As well as a per­for­mance by Swedish rap­per Yung Lean (14 Jun), the fes­ti­val in­cludes the UK pre­miere of Ja­maican reg­gae artist I Wayne (15 Jun). M.I.A. is set to close the fes­ti­val (18 Jun). 9-18 Jun. www.south­bank­cen­


This fes­ti­val is head­lined by 2016 Brit Award-win­ners Years & Years. Will Young, All Saints and S Club 3 per­form too, as does Char­lotte Church – who cov­ers Bowie, Brit­ney and Bey­oncé with a 10-piece band. You can boo­gie to So­phie El­lis-Bex­tor, too. The fes­ti­val also cel­e­brates ris­ing stars such as Raye and Porter. But it wouldn’t be east London with­out a hip­ster band, so the 10-piece Old Dirty Brasstards round things off. Stalls sell cock­tails, craft ales and food. You can also dance to DJs, watch a sur­real show by Figs in Wigs, join in a karaoke for the masses and play bingo. 4 Jun. www.mighty


Like Melt­down, Green­wich+Dock­lands In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val is also well es­tab­lished: it’s been go­ing since 1996. More a cel­e­bra­tion of street art and the­atre than a mu­sic fes­ti­val, the event has ex­panded to 16 days. This year, 100,000 peo­ple are ex­pected to at­tend its free outdoor per­for­mances.

The fes­ti­val’s artis­tic di­rec­tor Bradley Hem­mings says: ‘ There are ad­van­tages to per­form­ing out­side. We can use amaz­ing set­tings such as Ca­nary Wharf, Old Royal Naval Col­lege or the at­mo­spheric ru­ins of St George’s Gar­ri­son Church in Wool­wich. Then there’s the in­for­mal ex­pe­ri­ence of shar­ing a per­for­mance out­doors with friends. Even if you’re watch­ing alone, you’ll get swept up in the marvellous sense of com­mu­nity that arises dur­ing an outdoor the­atre show. The chal­lenge is that, with­out a the­atre, we must build ev­ery­thing from scratch.’

Hem­mings co-di­rected the London 2012 Par­a­lympic Games Open­ing Cer­e­mony, and cu­rates the Lib­erty Fes­ti­val, which pro­motes arts by peo­ple who are deaf and dis­abled. He adds: ‘We think hard about en­gag­ing deaf and dis­abled artists and au­di­ences. Look for view­ing ar­eas for wheel­chair users, cap­tioned per­for­mances and Bri­tish Sign Lan­guage in­ter­preters. This year I’m par­tic­u­larly ex­cited about Deaf Men Danc­ing’s Co­razón a Co­razón, which brings to­gether tango, Bri­tish Sign Lan­guage and aerial per­for­mance.’

So how does Hem­mings choose the acts? ‘We keep up to date with what’s hap­pen­ing in street arts. This means sup­port­ing the de­vel­op­ment of new shows or trav­el­ling to see per­for­mances – re­cently I’ve met artists in Krakow, An­twerp, Brighton and Ed­in­burgh, who will at some stage make their way to au­di­ences in east London,’ he ex­plains. ‘I seek out shows that capture peo­ple’s imag­i­na­tion, tell sto­ries in ac­ces­si­ble ways and en­cour­age us to look at the world dif­fer­ently. I love per­for­mances with an el­e­ment of sur­prise.’

Last year ac­ro­bats, jug­glers and ro­bots roamed the streets – as well as creepy gi­ant heads and a danc­ing oc­to­pus pup­pet the size of a van. Fes­ti­val-go­ers also wit­nessed fire spec­ta­cles, il­lu­mi­na­tions and mu­si­cians play­ing in­side a mov­ing sculp­ture.

‘Last year’s open­ing night com­bined video pro­jec­tions, py­rotech­nics, nar­ra­tion and chore­og­ra­phy,’ Hem­mings says. ‘ This year we are run­ning a one-day street arts cel­e­bra­tion (25 Jun) called Out in the Streets, mark­ing the 50th an­niver­sary of the de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. We’re cook­ing up some­thing even more am­bi­tious for next year.’ Fire­works will bring the fes­ti­val to a close. From 23 Jun. www.fes­ti­


Live at Chelsea sparks into life with The Chelsea Fire­works Prom (16 Jun) at the Royal Hos­pi­tal Chelsea, which was de­signed by Sir Christo­pher Wren in 1682. The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orches­tra plays Rule, Bri­tan­nia! and Jerusalem. You can also watch Belle and Se­bas­tian (15 Jun) per­form. 15-18 Jun.

Cristóbal Ba­len­ci­aga is one of the most in­no­va­tive and in­flu­en­tial de­sign­ers of the 20th cen­tury. His unique and for­ward-think­ing vision of fe­male beauty, pi­o­neer­ing use of tex­tiles and in­ge­nious pat­tern-cut­ting shaped the modernity of 1960s fash­ion and are still rel­e­vant to­day.

Ba­len­ci­aga: Shap­ing Fash­ion is the first UK ex­hi­bi­tion to ex­plore the work of Cristóbal Ba­len­ci­aga and his pro­found and con­tin­u­ing in­flu­ence on mod­ern fash­ion. See more than 100 pieces by the mas­ter of cou­ture, his pro­tégés and con­tem­po­rary de­sign­ers work­ing in the same in­no­va­tive way to­day. Ar­chive sketches, pat­terns, photographs, fab­ric sam­ples and cat­walk footage re­veal Ba­len­ci­aga’s un­com­pro­mis­ing cre­ativ­ity. In ad­di­tion, X-ray tech­nol­ogy, an­i­mated pat­terns and short films un­cover the hid­den de­tails that made his work so ex­cep­tional.

This land­mark ex­hi­bi­tion marks the cen­te­nary of the open­ing of Ba­len­ci­aga’s first fash­ion house in San Se­bas­tian and the 80th an­niver­sary of the open­ing of his fa­mous fash­ion house in Paris.

The ex­hi­bi­tion takes an in-depth look at the crafts­man­ship be­hind Ba­len­ci­aga’s de­signs and ex­plores his im­pact through de­sign­ers who worked with him and those who show his in­flu­ence to­day.

Clock­wise from this im­age: Live at Chelsea; Hamp­ton Court Palace Fes­ti­val; Green Day; Green­wich+Dock­lands In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val; Melt­down Be­low left: Justin Bieber Be­low right: Royal Al­bert Hall

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