BBC Music’s Biggest Weekend
We’ve all heard of BBC’s Big Weekend: the annual music festival occurring across the country during the May bank holiday weekend, usually hosted by Radio 1. Previous line-ups have pushed the boundaries set by the traditional summer festival by encompassing artists and performers from a wide range of genres and eras, attracting audiences from far and wide. This year is no exception, but – if you couldn’t already tell by the title – things have got even bigger!
The Big Weekend’s most unique feature is the fact that it takes place simultaneously across multiple locations which, this year, includes Belfast, Coventry, Perth and Swansea, giving music fans up and down the country the chance to see their idols live. BBC has described the weekend as a one-off musical experience which promises to bring the nation together for a massive celebration of live music. Organisers ensure that there will be something for everyone, with stages being hosted by BBC Radios 1, 2, 3 and 6.
The Biggest Weekend kicks off on Friday 25th May in two locations, one of which is the Northern Irish capital, Belfast. Headlining in the emerald isle is American all-rounder, Beck, whose set is sure to feature hits from his 2017 album, Colors, which received critical acclaim after being named NME’s Album of the Year. Joining Beck as headliners in Belfast will be electronic duo, Orbital, as well as legendary Welsh rock band, Manic Street Preachers. As if all that wasn’t enough, Friday in Belfast will also feature performances from alternative rock band, The Breeders, Australian singer/songwriter, Courtney Barnett, art-rock musical group, Public Service Broadcasting, and a very special performance from Father John Misty, also known as J. Tillman, who will be accompanied by the Ulster Orchestra.
Continuing the party at The Biggest Weekend on Saturday 26th in Belfast will be electronic music group, Underworld, whose unique sound has been keeping revellers entertained since 1980! Joining them will be Scottish indie rock legends, Franz Ferdinand, as well as Swedish folk duo, First Aid Kit. Supporting performers include alternative rock band, Ash, musician and DJ, Goldie and electronic music group, Little Dragon. As you can see, Belfast’s offering of The Biggest Weekend is shaping up to be pretty spectacular so far, but fear not if Belfast isn’t your closest city, because this festival spans the entire country! On to the next…
The city of Perth is located in central Scotland, so it’s the perfect location to host the Scottish segment of BBC Music’s Biggest Weekend. Friday sees in the weekend with performances from headlining acts including English jazz musician, Nigel Kennedy, lyric soprano, Danielle De Niese and virtuoso percussionist, Evelyn Glennie. Perth is the place to be if jazz is your thing, since further performers include jazz-pop singer/songwriter, Jamie Cullum, and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, directed by Tommy Smith. Mixing things up slightly by combining the smooth tones of jazz with the more toe-tapping vibes of folk and pop will be Scottish singer/songwriter, Eddi Reader, whose many BRIT award wins make her one of Scotland’s finest.
Saturday’s offering of stars is just as epic as the day before, with Perth’s stages playing host to Oasis legend, Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds, who will surely bring along with them a fantastic range of hits from their hot off the press album, Who Built the Moon? Scottish music royalty, Simple Minds, will also be headlining at The Biggest Weekend, and if you’re trying to remember where you know that name from, these are the guys who blessed us with the soundtrack anthem of The Breakfast Club, and if that’s not your favourite movie then you need to re-evaluate some life choices! Also gracing the Scottish stage will be Emeli Sande, who has been busy producing an album and performing on tour since her comeback in 2016. Other notable performers include British rock band, Squeeze, country duo, The Shires, Scottish singer/songwriter, Amy Macdonald and Birmingham-bred band, The Beat, whose music creatively fuses ska, pop, soul, reggae and punk rock. What a combo!
Kicking things off in Coventry on Sunday 27th May is none other than Oasis legend, Liam Gallagher, whose newly-released album, As You Were, peaked at number 1 in the UK last year, so his set is sure to include plenty of hits both new and old. Also headlining in the city of Coventry is Welsh rock band, Stereophonics, who also produced a hit album in 2017 – their tenth to be exact – which will surely influence their festival sets this summer. Things get even better with performances from Tears For Fears, UB40, Paloma Faith, Billy Ocean and Snow Patrol, no less!
If Coventry is your nearest city, you’d better get ready to start loving Mondays, because bank holiday Monday at The Biggest Weekend is shaping up to be pretty spectacular! Not only will there be a performance by British musician, Nigel Kennedy, jazz band GoGo Penguin will also be taking to the stage, surely bringing with them hits from their newly-released album, A Humdrum Star. In an effort to keep the hoards entertained in more ways than one, Monday will also feature a performance from BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing with their Concert Orchestra, so if you fancy a cha-cha-cha then Coventry is the only place to be! Keeping things musical is none other than Eliza McCarthy and The Wayward Band, whose folk vibes will have your toes tapping for sure, as will the acoustic tones of Miloš, an award-winning classical guitarist. If one thing’s for sure, it’s that Coventry’s Biggest Weekend has something for everyone!
We may be slightly biased in saying that we’ve left the best till last with this one. The Welsh southern city of Swansea has truly been blessed with an incredible line-up of industry-leading superstars, many of whom are topping the charts as we speak. Getting the party started in Swansea on Saturday 26th May is none other than Sam Smith, whose newly released album, The Thrill Of It All, will surely fill his set with hit after hit. If lads with angelic voices are your cup of tea, then Swansea is the place to be, as also headlining the festival this year is man of the moment, Ed Sheeran. His 2017 album, Divide, shot to stardom while thousands of fans travelled from far and wide to witness his talent in person during his Divide Tour. Tickets sold out pretty fast, so grab this opportunity to see him if you missed out last time!
Accompanying Smith and Sheeran in Swansea is Jess Glynne, who seems to have the magic touch in making any song she features on reach Number 1. Speaking of which, also headlining the Swansea stage is legendary recording artist, Craig David, who is celebrating almost 20 years in the industry since shooting to fame after featuring on Artful Dodger’s 1999 hit, Bo Selecta. But it doesn’t end there. Saturday in Swansea just keeps on getting better with performances from George Ezra, Wolf Alice, Years & Years, Liam Payne, Mabel and girl of the moment, Sigrid.
Forget what you’ve heard about Sunday being the day of rest because at BBC Music’s Biggest Weekend, that certainly isn’t the case! Sunday is just as explosive as Saturday, with a headlining performance from none other than global superstar, Taylor Swift! Who’d have thought it?! Also travelling from across the pond especially for the Biggest Weekend is American rock band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, who have a history of making UK crowds go absolutely wild! Other headline performances include sets from Rita Ora, Niall Horan, Stefflon Don, J Hus, James Bay and Camila Cabello. As you can see, Swansea’s offering of the Biggest Weekend is totally show-stopping, with an epic international line up that is frankly unmatched by any other bank holiday festival.
Four sites. Four locations. Four days. BBC Music’s Biggest Weekend promises to showcase a diverse range of live music, featuring a line-up of both national and global artists and performers. Tickets are selling fast, so grab yours while you still can, because this is sure to be a weekend to remember! https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e fj3v2
By Elise Harvey