Live Music 2021 Highlights

Will Rathbone

Festivals! Just imagine standing in a field with echoes of live music wafting overhead, and the multicoloured lights of a main stage flashing in the distance as the gorgeous blue-pink dusk sky slowly turns to night. After seeing the 2020 festival season go up in smoke, plans for 2021 are well underway. London has seen plenty of day and weekend festivals spring up over the years, and 2021 sees newcomer Maiden Voyage cast off on 29 August in a yet-to-be-revealed location in North London. The brains behind the almighty Jazz Café in Camden are behind this one, with acts so far including Mercury-nominated jazzer Moses Boyd and sunshine-loving legend Roy Ayers. On the other side of the river, Naked City takes place on 24 July in Beckenham Place Park. In typically South London fashion there’s a homegrown, community vibe, and the line-up includes the soulful house of Romare alongside explosive Congolese party-starters KOKOKO! Stalwarts of the London festival scene, Field Day has downsized to a one-day event, on 10 July at The Drumsheds, and the dance-music focus sees emotive floor-filler Bicep play a live set while a life-changing, euphoric dance floor experience is always a possibility when the Blessed Madonna is behind the decks. 
 
Musicians at every stage of their career have been affected by the lack of gigs this year, but the importance of playing live and connecting with fans cannot be overstated for those at the start of exciting careers - and we can't wait to get back out to support them. Shoegazey five-piece bdrmm play at the legendary Moth Club on 28 April, while a band with a huge reputation for playing gigs equally as raucous and engaging as their music and lyrics, Porridge Radio play Village Underground on 23 November. The equally hard-gigging Belfast post-punk outfit Fontaines DC will hope to pick up where they left off with a date at Alexandra Palace on 27 May.
 

Southbank Centre / Grace Jones - Photo here 

A highlight of every calendar year, the Southbank Centre’s annual MELTDOWN festival sees Grace Jones as the guest curator carried over from 2020. Highlights include the avant-garde RnB of Solange on 11 June and legendary Malian musician Oumou Sangaré on 16 June, along with the irrepressible rhythms of Senegalese guitarist Baaba Maal on 19 June before the queen of pop herself, Grace Jones, performs on 20 June. It’s a typically varied and joyous mix of music by iconic artists, from a festival that never disappoints.
 


If ticking off iconic artists from your must-see list is a personal pleasure, then 2021 should have plenty of opportunities in store. Former Moloko front-woman and pop pioneer Roisin Murphy follows up on her brilliant 2020 album Roisin Machine (a rhyming title, if you’re struggling with the name) with a date at the O2 Academy Brixton on 19 September. Camden’s Roundhouse plays host to the charismatic and classy Kelis on 29 June while if any band are able to put a smile on your face and leave your troubles behind it’s Nile Rodgers and Chic, who play the Royal Albert Hall at an as-yet-unannounced date.
 

Roisin Murphy - Photo here

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