The world of live music is kicking back into action for the new year, and plenty of festivals have already confirmed their dates for the summer.
We present to you a handy month-by-month guide to some of what’s happening when, plus, a few of our most hardcore reviewers talk about what they loved most from the last year of live music, and what they’re most looking forward to in 2009.
2009 Festival Schedule:
24-25, Camden Crawl, Camden, London: two days, forty venues and hundreds of new and emerging acts from the world of rock, alternative and dance. Previous line ups have included Fratellis, The Automatic, Biffy Clyro, Kids in Glass Houses, Ash, Amy Winehouse, Klaxons, Mogwai and The Whip.
24-26, Hammerfest, Pontins, Prestatyn Nth Wales: it’s metal at a holiday camp, what more could you want? Bullet For My Valentine and Saxon are among those already confirmed.
8-10, All Tomorrows Parties: The Fans Strike Back, Minehead, Butlins Holiday Centre: ATP pick one half of the line up, with ticketholders the other. Jesus Lizard, Devo, Spiritualized and Beirut are among those already announced.
14-16, Great Escape, Brighton: like Camden Crawl, punters get the chance to experience new and emerging acts all within easy walking distance of one another, and catch a glimpse of who’ll be dominating the outdoor festivals.
15-17, All Tomorrows Parties: Curated by the Breeders, Minehead, Butlins Holiday Centre: joining the Breeders will be CSS, Throwing Muses, Bon Iver, Foals, Teenage Fanclub, Holy Fuck, Deerhunter and Gang Of Four.
20-23, Liverpool Soundcity: a range of emerging acts plus events designed to showcase the workings of the music industry.
12-14, Download, Donington Park: one of many that needs no introduction, with Iron Maiden, Kiss, Linkin Park, Metallica, Tool, Offspring, Lostprophets and My Chemical Romance all headlining in recent years.
12-14, Isle of Wight, Newport, Seaclose Park: headliners here have recently included Rolling Stones, Muse, Sex Pistols, The Police, Snow Patrol, Foo Fighters, Coldplay and Kaiser Chiefs. Isle of Wight is one which sells out fast once the line up is announced.
12-14: Rock Ness, Scotland, Loch Ness: for the first time it expands to three days, with Biffy Clyro's headlining set on the closing night sure to be a massive summer highlight North of the border. Also confirmed are Basement Jaxx, The Prodigy and Dizzee Rascal.
19-21, Big Session Festival, Leicester, De Montfort Hall: The Levellers and Billy Bragg are among the acts already announced for this event which showcases roots and folk music.
24-28, Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, Worthy Farm: the rumourmill is constantly changing so no point listing it now, but 2008 saw Kings of Leon and Jay-Z top the bill.
10-12, Guilfest, Guildford, Stoke Park: this family friendly weekend is one of our favourite festivals with a main stage that has hosted the likes of Blondey, Madness, Embrace, Supergrass and Status Quo, plus among the other highlights is the Rock Sound Cave where Fightstar, The Blackout, Frank Turner and King Blues have all recently appeared.
10-12, T in the Park, Kinross, Balado: Scotland’s biggest music event saw Rage Against the Machine and R.E.M headline in 2008, expect another massive line up this July and for tickets to sell out fast!
15-19, Larmer Tree, Nr Salisbury, Larmer Tree Gardens: acts so far announced include Jules Holland, Dreadzone, The Traveling Band and The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain.
17, Madstock, London, Victoria Park: Madness resurrect their own festival for one day in East London.
17-18, 2000 Trees, Cheltenham, Withington Upcote Farm: a small, green focused music festival with a diverse mix of musical styles.
17-19, Latitude, Suffolk, Henham Park Estate, Beccles: much more than just a music festival, with arenas dedicated to film, theatre, poetry, literature, cabaret, and comedy. Recent events have hosted Arcade Fire, Sigur Ros, Interpol and Franz Ferdinand.
24-26, Camp Bestival, Dorset, Lulworth Castle: from the makers of Bestival, last year saw headlining performances from The Flaming Lips and Chuck Berry.
25-26, Redfest, Redhill, Robins Cook Farm: in 2009 Redfest will be free. So far the acts announced have a strong local feel, but from further away, Floors and Walls will be well worth catching.
6-9, Rebellion Festival, Blackpool Winter Gardens Arena: the punk festival returns this august with a number of acts already confirmed, including The Damned, King Blues, Napalm Death, Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Sonic Boom Six, Anti Nowhere League and Agnostic Front.
14-16, Bloodstock Open Air, Walton-on-Trent, Catton Hall: those who like their metal but Download isn’t for them will probably find something to like here, with acts so far confirmed including Saxon, Turisas, Candlemass, Sabaton, Satyricon, The Haunted, Wintersun, Katatonia and Die Apokalyptischen Reiter.
22-23, V Festival, Staffordshire, Weston Park and Chelmsford, Hyland Park: without doubt the most mainstream major UK festival, with a line up mixing rock, pop, dance and urban.
28-30, Leeds Festival, Leeds, Bramham Park
28-30, Reading Festival, Reading, Little John’s Farm: two more that don’t need the big sell. For many the August bank holiday is the highpoint of the summer of music with headliners in recent times including Iron Maiden, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Muse, Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Razorlight.
28-31, Beachdown, Brighton, South Downs: a mixture of musical styles on the South Coast, with a strong local feel to this event.
11-13: Bestival, Isle of Wight, Robin Hill Adventure Park: one of the UK’s most intriguing festivals, big name acts such as Underworld, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, Amy Winehouse and Madness mixed in with emerging alternative and dance artists and DJs, plus, a now legendary fancy dress parade.
And, by way of wetting the appetite for the year ahead, here’s what five of R13’s most regular live reviewers loved the most in 2008 and what they’re looking forward to in 2009.
Jo Vallance: Editor
1. The Hold Steady at London Roundhouse in December The Hold Steady play their biggest date yet and manage to mix tunes from their recent album with fan favourites for a truly fabulous show that sees them at their peak.
2. Brett Anderson at Glasgow Oran Mor in November A born performer, Anderson airs his new album before embarking on a lengthy series of Suede songs that bring a wave of nostalgia over the audience. The stripped down tunes are performed on piano and acoustic guitar with a cello accompaniment, adding extra intimacy for a truly special show.
3. IAMX at London Electric Ballroom in April Chris Corner and co can’t fail to put on a spectacular show with breathtaking costumes and hypnotic tunes that demonstrate exactly what a live show should be like, stunning the senses on all levels.
4. The Indelicates at Cambridge Portland Arms in April The Indelicates prove themselves one of 2008’s best bands with a gripping and highly impressive live show that can’t fail to engage the audience in such an intimate venue. Releasing their album at the same time as The Long Blondes, The Indelicates’s live show far surpasses that of the bigger band, promising a shining future for them.
5. Martha Wainwright at Edinburgh Picturehouse in November Martha always has a trick up her sleeve, chatting away to the crowd about her adventures in Edinburgh, giving her cousin’s band a turn onstage and then whisking her mother in from Canada. Aside from this she’s a born storyteller and always great to watch live.
In 2009 I’m looking forward to Magazine’s highly overdue live tour, Patrick Wolf’s new album, which is being financed by Bandstocks meaning that fans can buy their own share in it and receive their name on the cover, more superb psychedelic action from The Resistance, 90’s glam stars Rachel Stamp reforming and watching the wonderful folk pop duo Kingfishers Catch Fire really take flight.
Simon Webb: Deputy Editor
1. Iron Maiden at Twickenham Stadium in July They played ‘Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ walking distance from my house, what more do you need? Not only was this ‘Power Slave’ era inspired set the best I saw last year, probably also the best Maiden show I’ve been too.
2. Manic Street Preachers at Leeds Festival They never disappoint, that said some who only discovered the Manics post ‘Design For Life’ might have wished for more recent material but they’re wrong. This was a set which featured plenty of tracks which gave the band the leg up to arena status and was brilliant for that reason.
3. Underworld at Camden Roundhouse in February I saw people turn up late, then leave immediately after ‘Born Slippy’, idiots! They clearly weren’t interested in the electronica master class Underworld served up. Yoav in support was pretty damn fine too.
4. Cage the Elephant at Camden Crawl The Underworld was rammed and we were treated to one of those legendary sweat-drenched Camden Crawl headline sets and with the band determined to have a brilliant time, who could fail to be swept along.
5. Screaming Tea Party at Camden Crawl To this day I’m not totally sure what Screaming Tea Party were trying to do, or in fact, what they are, but their’s was one of the most random gigs I’ve seen in a long time, and bloody good for it.
In 2009 I’m looking forward to the long-awaited live return of AC/DC. With the Brakes releasing new material their return to action is very welcome and of the new, highly tipped lot, Empire of the Sun’s rise should be interesting to watch. It will also be interesting to watch how emerging acts like Empire of the Sun and
Andy Latham: North of England Live Reviewer
1. Wildhearts at Hard Rock Hell 2 It was 1am on the second day, everyone had been drinking for 2 days solid and we were all flagging after Zakk Wylde's boring 10 minute solo and then up pop the Wildhearts and they absolutely nailed it! I said in the review that it seemed like the perfect set at the time, the performance, the set list, the sound, it was all just quite brilliant.
2. Flogging Molly at Leeds Festival The crowd were as good as the band, it was totally packed out and brilliant from start to finish. Quote from the review: “It's hard to put into words just how good Flogging Molly are today, they play like their lives depend on it and it's completely infectious.”
3. Senser at Guilfest They were just awesome that day and destroyed the rest of the bill, this line from the review sums it up quite well: “Make no mistake, Senser are just a brilliant band that continue to lay waste to every venue they play and this tent is no exception. They are without doubt the band of the weekend and the only complaint is that it's over too soon. Just brilliant.”
4. Frank Turner at Leeds Festival I hesitate to put this in because it seems like a repeat of last year but it really was another career high and fantastic to watch yet again!
5. Kiss at Download Not really a fan, didn't even see half the set but what I did see was just brilliant entertainment from start to finish. A textbook lesson in over the top showmanship that had me laughing and smiling and was the perfect end to a long day at Download.
In 2009 I’m looking forward to, well, who knows what the year will bring, some decent bands on the Lock Up Stage at Leeds, plus a few interesting finds at Guilfest will do nicely for starters.
Michelle Moore: London-based Live Reviewer
1. Fall Out Boy at Wembley Arena in October Most bands try and make Wembley a night to remember by spicing up the stage and their set. FOB decided simplicity was the best way to entertain and they were right. It was great to see the guys live and hear how different they sound from when you see them on TV.
2. 30 Seconds To Mars at Hammersmith Apollo in February There is no way I am going to forget Jared Leto do his thing at the Apollo. His working of the stage was wonderful, but his solo acoustic set was even more breathtaking. He was utterly crazy and seemed to have no concern for his life as he sat on the balcony singing with his guitar. He is passionately loony about music and the fans!
3. Simple Plan at London Kentish Town Forum in November Minimal special effects made Simple Plan's set an unforgettable one. It gave me the opportunity to fully get a grip of their music and see how dedicated they are to the fans without lights flashing in my eyes. Next time you decide to give away instruments though, head in my direction, I've been meaning to learn the guitar.
4. You Me At Six at London Astoria in October Out of all the shows I have seen these guys perform this year, the Astoria was by all means their most remarkable yet. This sold out event went down incredibly well and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the night and didn't want it to end. I highly recommend them as a band to catch next year.
5. Rocket Summer at London Kings College Students Union in February Bryce Avary is a wonderful musician and made a huge impression on me. He has such a unique voice; he is a multi-instrumentalist and knows how to work a crowd into a frenzy. Since experiencing this performance I have hunted down all his UK releases.
In 2009 I’m looking forward to Fall Out Boy playing the O2 in March, more from emerging artists like Elliot Minor, Enjoy Destroy and Tonight is Goodbye. Then there’s Shibby, a band I have reviewed a number of times who have had a change of line up and band name, now called Eleven Eleven, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for them.
Jodie Woodgate: Live Reviewer
1. Biffy Clyro at Download True, they maybe a trio hailing from Scotland but when they took to the main stage it was like a homecoming for the Biffy boys as riffs raged, beats pounded and a mass of metal fans joined in for a lung aching burst of ‘Mountains’. Spinetinglingly epic.
2. Lostprophets at Download Controversial headliners that weren’t to everyone’s taste but the Welsh boys still guaranteed a good, fun filled end to the festival with banter to halt the continual shout outs for ‘Sinobi Vs Dragon Ninja’ as Ian Watkins and Co. proved that a British band can headline a UK festival with style.
3. Linkin Park at Project Revolution Project Revolutions first outing outside the US was always going to be grand affair. Add to this an appearance from Jay-Z fresh from his Glastonbury slot and everything just seemed that much bigger. From the aggression charged start of ‘One Step Closer’ to the Jay-Z collaboration at the close, this was one set that had it all and certainly didn’t wilt before the encore.
4. Gaslight Anthem at Reading Festival With people starting to take notice of the New Jersey punk rockers, Gaslight Anthem’s set at Reading was always going to be a pivotal point in their career. For those lucky enough to be in the Lock Up Tent for the rousingly humble set, it was the chance to witness a band about to launch into the stratosphere.
5. Aiden at Birmingham Barfly in October Sure, it may not have been the Seattle band at their best but with a lead singer struck down with the flu, most other bands would have cancelled. Not Aiden though and the fact that Wil Francis still gave 100% whilst obviously feeling like he had one foot firmly in the grave, this was one gig that was all about the fans.
In 2009 I’m looking forward to Gaslight Anthem’s return early in the year for a tour supported by Frank Turner, plus there are promises of albums finally from Lostprophets and talk of a double offering from Aiden. On the festival front, fingers are crossed that the rumours of Slipknot for Download are true especially after they had to cancel Reading.
The world of live music is kicking back into action for the new year, and plenty of festivals have already confirmed their dates for the summer.