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Future Plans: Stereoboard's 2021 Events Guide

Monday, 15 March 2021 Written by Stereoboard

Image: London's Field Day festival

As we approach the 12 month anniversary of the first UK lockdown, the mood is beginning to shift towards cautious optimism. Following the release of the government’s roadmap out of the most recent bout of Covid-19 restrictions, with a pledge from Boris Johnson for all adults in the UK to be offered their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of July, live music is once again an enticing spot on the horizon.

But there are many hurdles to clear before we’re able to sing along together again—aside from the infection rate there are alarming gaps in government funding for the sector, myriad issues with insurance for major events, and small venues hovering on the precipice

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has pilot schemes planned for later in the spring as part of the Events Research Programme (ERP) while reactions from the music industry to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget were mixed. Yes, there was another furlough extension and the prolonging of the 5% VAT rate on tickets, but also no word on insurance and little aid for freelance events staff.

“Uncertainty remains and the lack of insurance for Covid-related cancellation is a huge concern,” Lucy Noble, chair of the National Arenas Association, recently told Music Week. “What the entire live sector wants is to be allowed to trade safely out of this situation and once more welcome people to come together for extraordinary shared experiences.” 

But after a year on the sidelines the prospect of the show going on is there, just out of reach. Stay home, follow the rules, because this isn’t over. But, equally, it’s nice to have something to potentially look forward to and it’s understandable that the industry is champing at the bit after such a difficult time. So with that in mind, here are just a few things to keep an eye on in the summer months if things do start up again, from major festivals to grunge revivals and a prime chance to take it easy... 

Pop goes July

Kicking things off with a flash of pop pizzazz, July’s potential running order is heavy on the hits. From Lady Gaga’s Chromatica Ball descending on London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to Michael Bublé’s tour of castles, cricket grounds and estates, there’s plenty here for the discerning chart fan. If that’s not enough, check out Olly Murs’ wide-ranging slate of outdoor shows (including some rescheduled for 2022) or Jess Glynne’s summer jaunt, featuring Jockey Club Live gigs and Forest Live dates.

For those whose tastes skew heavy or retro, find something to love in the line up for this summer’s BST Hyde Park. Grunge legends Pearl Jam are currently planning to take to the stage on July 9 and 10, 30 years on from the release of their monster debut ‘Ten’, with eye-catching support on alternate nights from Pixies and Idles. On July 11, meanwhile, Duran Duran are in line to tread the boards following sets from disco legends Nile Rodgers & CHIC and pop iconoclast Grace Jones. 

Here come the heavyweights

Few recent announcements have carried the weight of news that the iconic Reading & Leeds Festivals is set to be held across the weekend of the August bank holiday. Welcoming headliners Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Post Malone, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Disclosure, and Queens of the Stone Age to Richfield Avenue and Bramham Park, the events loom like a beacon of normality. 

Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn recently cautioned against unguarded optimism—underlining the problem of securing insurance, telling the Guardian it was “currently impossible to buy”—but signalled their intent to crack on after shelving the 2020 edition. “We’re enthusiastic, we’re excited, and we’re certain that it’s going to go ahead,” Benn added. “Young people are so desperate to be released among their peers, without parents and Zoom and school and college overseeing every minute of every day. They are a coiled spring and we have to do everything to get this on the road for them.”

After the cancellation of last year's event due to COVID-19, All Points East will return to Victoria Park in London for its third instalment on the August bank holiday weekend—later than its usual spot in May—with Jamie xx and Kano announced to headline. A fun addition is the news that Field Day will also form part of the offering, with Bicep at the top of the bill following the fest’s relocation from Drumsheds in Enfield back to its spiritual home.

Also worth noting is that Creamfields could bring its blockbuster dance weekender back to Daresbury, Cheshire between August 26 - 29, with everyone from The Chemical Brothers and Above & Beyond to Carl Cox, Jax Jones and Pendulum set to drop in. For something a tad more sedate look no further than The Eagles’ London stay, where they intend to play 1976's 'Hotel California' in full followed by a greatest hits set at Wembley Stadium on August 28 and 29.

Turning heads in recent times has been the announcement of South Facing Festival, which is set to take over the newly revived Crystal Palace Bowl amphitheatre in south London this summer. Featuring 12 shows throughout August, the bill includes Dizzee Rascal and the Outlook Orchestra, Supergrass, The Streets, Max Richter, and the English National Opera performing Tosca.

Further summer fun might be found in Lionel Richie’s hit-laden tour, which is set to call at outdoor venues across the UK and Ireland, while Gorillaz plan to bring their Song Machine Tour to London’s O2 Arena on August 11. Simple Minds40 Years Of Hits Tour is also pencilled in as August tips over into September, kicking off at the SSE Arena Wembley in London.

Back to the Isle

Isle of Wight festival organisers recently revised their plans with the hope of staging the storied event in 2021, announcing a return to Seaclose Park between September 16 and 19. They aspire to retain the majority of the line up that had been announced for the since scrapped June weekender, which featured headliners Lionel Richie, Lewis Capaldi, Snow Patrol and Duran Duran.

Another festival on the move is Slam Dunk, the annual pop-punk knees-up held at Temple Newsam Park in Leeds and Hatfield Park in Hertfordshire. The 2021 edition will now take place on September 4 and September 5, with Sum 41 and Don Broco down to headline alongside appearances from While She Sleeps, Comeback Kid, The Story So Far, We Are The In Crowd, NOFX, and more. “Hopefully moving back to September will allow enough leeway should there be any delays to the current roadmap,” organisers said.

Also in September, Dua Lipa is poised to end a long wait as she brings her UK and European Future Nostalgia Tour to arenas, reviving a run that’s already been scuppered twice. Elbow are another act who have had to wait to get their new material out on the road, with songs from ‘Giants of All Sizes’ set to slot into setlists on their rescheduled tour, which begins at the end of August in Dublin and Belfast.

Ska legends The Specials also have big plans, with a marathon tour leading up to two nights at London’s Roundhouse, and Genesis will bring their long-awaited reunion plans to arenas. The Last Domino? World Tour is set to feature Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, and longtime multi-instrumentalist Daryl Stuermer. Another artist moving forward by looking back is David Gray, who will celebrate his hit album 'White Ladder' at arenas across the UK and Ireland throughout September.

Important Information: The UK live sector could get going again from June 21 2021, but as with all things Covid-related, the future is sadly still uncertain. While the events we've listed in this article are currently scheduled to go ahead, subsequent cancellations and/or postponements could still happen between now and then. In the event you've purchased tickets for an event which does get cancelled or rearranged, you should contact your point of purchase for further information. Stereoboard takes no responsibility for any losses incurred as a result of an event cancellation/postponement.



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