Earlier this month UK Music’s chief executive Michael Dugher appealed to the government to recognise the ‘transformative’ effect music can have on mental health and to the development of young people.
His comments on the effect music can have on wellbeing followed UK Music’s Music By Numbers report, which revealed that the live music sector made a contribution of £1.1bn in 2018, which was up 10 percent from £991m in 2017.
He went on to state: ‘The economic value of music is inextricably interlinked with the critically important social value of music.’
Besides the social and economic merit of gifting gig tickets this year, you can also revel in the knowledge that you are supporting music creators.
So, we’ve picked out a few of our gig and festival top tips for the first half of the year to get you started. Dig in…
First up, we have Anna Meredith, who’s long since established herself as one of the most exciting, enigmatic figures in music today. As well as her work within the classical community, Meredith enjoys a successful solo pop career that has seen her release two albums on indie label Moshi Moshi; the latest of which, Fibs, garnered considerable critical acclaim and perfectly exemplifies her ability to blend diverse genres, from classical to folk to techno. Fittingly, at this year’s Ivors Composer Awards, Meredith picked up the Innovation Award for her varied work. With all this in mind, catching Meredith on this tour is a must for the New Year.
Richard Dawson – Barbican Centre, London, 28 March tickets
This year, ‘the black-humoured bard of Newcastle’, Richard Dawson, released his latest offering, 2020. With an almost Ken Loach level of detail, Dawson offers painfully realistic insights into the lives of many working people in the UK, set to the backdrop of heavy metal inspired arrangements and his trademark folk melodies. Following a tour of mid-sized venues across the UK, Dawson’s performance at Barbican Centre marks his biggest show to date. The night will also feature a selection of performances from hand-selected musicians and artists across two stages, culminating in a headline show by Dawson and his band.
Celtic Connections Festival Glasgow - January 16 to 2 February tickets
For our first festival recommendation of early New Year, we visit Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival. Spanning from the 16 January to 2 February, the festival will see over two thousand musicians from across the globe descend on the city and celebrate music of many genres, featuring acts such as Danni Nichols, The Rezillos, as well as the Sam Lee and Iona Fyfe Trio. Known for its spirit of collaboration and bringing together special one-off line-ups, the festival is an early highlight in the 2020 calendar and will feature more than 300 events across eighteen days, including ceilidhs, talks, art exhibitions, workshops and various free events. A ticket to this will provide a great gift to any music loving acquaintance.
In August of this year, the East Ham born rapper and Top Boy star Kano released his sixth album, Hoodies All Summer, three years on from his Mercury nominated and Mobo winning Made in the Manor. Like Dawson’s 2020, the album contains poignant social commentary, detailing the lives and troubles of the UK’s inner-city inhabitants, putting a mirror up to society and reflecting it in all its gritty detail, levelled with a healthy dose of humour. As one of the founding fathers of the country’s thriving grime scene, it will be a long overdue treat seeing Kano back behind the microphone, commanding stages up and down the country.
Jon Hopkins – UK Tour, 4 to 18 March tickets
Jon Hopkins’ electronic masterpiece Singularity took the nation by storm upon its release in 2018, and a successful tour followed, featuring Hopkins on his DJ equipment, impressive visuals and dancers. In March 2020, Hopkins will attempt something quite different on his ‘Polarity’ tour. Featuring Hopkins on the grand piano, as well as a small ensemble composed of producer and guitarist Leo Abrahams, violinist Emma Smith and cellist Laura Moody, the tour will present a different angle of Hopkins’ music, taking place in seated, predominantly classical orientated venues such as Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall.
In Hopkins’ words, ‘Right now I have a set that’s tailored to festivals and to standing crowds and intoxicated people. But I would say my deepest nature lies in the stillness, the meditative side of my music.’ This tour will allow Hopkins’ to explore these aspects of his creativity – these shows are surely not to be missed.
Aerial Festival, Ambleside – 26 March to 28 March tickets
Finally, we have Aerial, which is a brand-new festival held in the picturesque setting of the Lake District town of Ambleside. In its inaugural year, Aerial will feature artists such as Kate Tempest, Deep Throat Choir and folk icon Vashti Bunyan, among many more. In the words of organiser (and current Creative Director of London Borough of Culture) Sam Hunt, ‘We’re so excited to be able to produce a festival of this calibre against the unique backdrop of the Lakes. It’s been an inspirational place for so many and it’s fantastic to be able to welcome artists who have been influenced by the area to perform.’
Produced in partnership with From The Fields, the company behind the local and highly successful festival Kendal Calling, Aerial will celebrate the subculture of the surrounding areas, as well as welcoming talented bands from across the country. Events will take place inside churches and country houses, in prehistoric stone circles and on steamboats across Lake Windermere. Don’t miss out on this chance to see a side of the Lake District you might never have expected