Events marked with * I was invited along to for free, but rest assured all words & opinions are my own 🙂
2019 was a great year for live music and theatre, so I thought I’d share my highlights, including the new artists I discovered this year as well as what I’m excited for in 2020!
Highlights – live music
First up, my live music highlights, and I managed to catch some pretty big acts over the last 12 months!
I finally got to see the legend that is Billy Joel. Piano Man himself. It was glorious, and of course, I dressed for the occasion in my piano dress. // I’m so sad that Citadel Festival will be no more (though it looks like they’ve deleted their tweet announcing this, so who knows, maybe it will be back after all!) as it’s probably my favourite 1 day London festival, and 2019 certainly lived up to previous years. Catfish & The Bottlemen absolutely smashed it! I’m dying to see them play another headline show.
I’d seen Pete Doherty & Carl Barat both separately, but this was my first time seeing them together again, at last. This was a very special & intimate acoustic evening, with the stage lit up beautifully with 1001 candles (don’t worry, all fake. No fire hazards here), and backed by the Dirty Pretty Strings. Amazingly, I then ended up winning tickets through gigsandtours on Twitter to see the lads again in December, this time for The Libertines reunion, and it was glorious!! // Sundara Karma were another highlight for me as Spotify have been including them in my Discover Weekly playlist since 2015, so it was great to finally catch them live. What a voice Oscar has too. Very Bowie-esque.
I was lucky enough to be gifted press passes to 2019’s CarFest*. It’s a festival founded by presenter Chris Evans (not Avenger Chris Evans) with the main theme being cars. It’s not just about the motors though as there was also live music! Our super sunny day at Laverstoke Park Farm ended with a boogie to Human League. There was also lots of dancing to Boy George, Roger frigging Daltry (!), The Feeling, Texas and Sister Sledge. // Next up is quite possibly the best gig of the year. THE SPICE GIRLS!! They delivered one hell of a show with all the colour, glitter &, of course, Girl Power!!
I discovered Papooz late 2018, and vowed I would see them again when they were next in London. True to my word, I snapped up tickets as soon as I could for their album launch. I even got to meet them after the show too! // I think I’ve managed to see Spector multiple times every year since first taking Amy to see them back in 2015. Their show at Sebright Arms was possibly the smallest gig of theirs I’ve ever been to, and the sweatiest. It was the hottest day of the year, with us all crammed into the teeny tiny venue, and all jumping around like crazy. I loved every second!
THE reunion I’ve been waiting my whole life for. A1!! Ben Adams was my first celeb crush when I was about 9. Unfortunately I was very ill on the night, so only managed to stay for half of the gig before going home to cry in my bed. Hopefully now the 4 of them are back together, we’ll get some more headline shows in London. // I didn’t really get to use my Jukely subscription as much I’d have liked in 2019, but I did get to see the absolute reggae-pop heores UB40(J)!! I forgot that they’re so much more than just Red, Red Wine! It was a massive hit-fest with an amazing atmosphere inside the packed out O2 Arena.
New Discoveries – live music
I love having my mind blown by new bands I’ve never seen before, and 2019 gave me a lot of those moments.
We caught a lot of new bands at Citadel but Cleopatrick were by far my favourites, not just from the festival, but of the whole year. Their performance was explosive and I’ve been keeping an eye out for their next London show! // I was originally invited to see Brionn Starr for free for a review, but there was a mixup and we ended up paying. I wasn’t even mad as he was amazing. He may have the looks of a certain Starman, but his sound is a bit more Bryan Ferry.
One of my best Jukely nights in 2019 was definitely Self Esteem(J) at Village Underground. If you’re looking for female empowered pop, with added synchronised dance routines, then make them your new go-to! // Now, I’m hoping you won’t see me as being too biased with this one as Concrete Natives are my very good friend Kiran’s band, but you know what? They’re bloody good! I took some of the girls from the office to one of their gigs in Soho and we had such a fab night dancing to their funky beats. They’re on Spotify, so give them a listen!
I was lucky enough to be invited to one of Trinity Buoy Wharf’s* Live sessions last year and I’m very much looking forward to them starting up again this year. The Grand Union Orchestra All Stars played the night I attended bringing their mix of jazz styles from all over the world. It was a beautiful evening! // I saw Spector a couple of times in 2019, but twice they were supported by On Video, a fun little garage rock band from East London. They’ve since popped up in my Discover Weekly playlist a few times, so even Spotify knows I like them!
Another great support act that I caught last year were Meggie Brown (J). They’ve got so much energy. Consider me a big big fan! // I finally got to go to my first ever Sofar Sounds* gig in 2019, and the first act we saw was Jon Nicholas, a lovely young man from Wales, with an even lovelier voice.
Highlights – Theatre
It was a big year for theatre too!
I couldn’t believe my luck when I managed to win the TodayTix lottery for £15 tickets to see Fleabag live! Phoebe Waller-Bridge was utterly wonderful. Her comedic timing is insane! She absolutely smashed 2019 and I can’t wait to see what else she has up her sleeves. // Two more insane shows that I saw in 2019 came from The National Youth Theatre*. I was invited to see both Great Expectations and Frankenstein. Each show featured the same cast, which means these amazingly talented actors had to learn & remember lines for both shows that were playing during the same period on alternative nights! I particularly enjoyed their futuristic version of Frankenstein where one point of the show is watched through a VR headset. Really clever!
I’d heard about Equus* but had never gotten the chance to see it for myself, that was until Peter Shaffer brought his award-winning version to Trafalgar Studios. It was the most intense show I’d ever seen. You forget that the part of the horses are played by actual human beings! Just truly brilliant. // Little Death Club* is a fun & naughty little cabaret led by the Queen of Weimar Punk Kabarett, Bernie Dieter. We had an absolute ball singing along with a drag queen, laughing at a drunk mime, and gasping in awe at a bearded lady. Bernie and her family of freaks made us feel so very welcome (some might say a little too welcome) as they entertained us with silly songs, blazing fire & amazing acrobatics. At just 60 minutes, I only wish the show was longer!
My brother quite likes Lily James (I mean, don’t we all?!) so for his birthday I treated him to tickets to see her live on stage in All About Eve with the amazing Gillian Anderson. I had no idea of the plot, having never seen the 1950 film, but it had me gripped from the second the curtains opened. Both actresses gave stellar performances with Lily stealing the show right at the end. // In February last year I was invited to see Come From Away* during its opening weeks at the Phoenix Theatre and was blown away! I kept going on & on to my brother & Nan that they NEEDED to see it, and so this Christmas I booked them both tickets. They both loved it nearly as much as I did seeing it for the 2nd time around. It’s sad, funny, and overall uplifting. Thankfully it’s been extended until May 23rd this year, so you’ve still time to see, what is quite possibly, the best theatre show I’ve ever seen!
A couple of us girls in the office had a night out at the theatre to see Waitress. It is a seriously cute musical and I fell in love all over again with David Hunter, who I’d seen & fallen in love with the first time in Kinky Boots a couple of years ago. Sara Bareilles, the music & lyrics composer, is coming to London to play the lead in London for 6 weeks only, which is very exciting! I might have to go again…. // If you’re looking for immersive theatre, The Vaults in Waterloo seems to be the place to be. I was invited to see Dinner Is Coming*, a Game of Thrones inspired immersive dining experience with a murder mystery twist. I’m always a little sceptical of dinner & show experiences, that a) the food won’t actually be that nice, and b) the serving sizes will be tiny, but I needn’t have worried with this production, as the food was delicious and the portions more than generous. They’ve a new James Bond inspired immersive dining experience coming in April called Live & Let Dine.
2020 is looking like a great year for theatre. Here are some shows I’m very excited to see this year.
Frozen. I don’t think this one needs any more explanation.
Magic Goes Wrong. My brother & I saw The Show That Goes Wrong a couple of years ago & were in stitches the whole way through, so I’m very excited to see The Mischief Theatre’s collaboration with international magic superstars, Penn & Teller.
It’s A Wonderlife. Yes, that’s right, everyone’s favourite Christmas film is being transformed into a west end musical. But hang on, the most exciting part is that it’s being created by the legend that is Sir Paul McCartney!!! I CANNOT wait!
To Kill A Mockingbird. My brother has already bought me a ticket to see this in May, and it looks like it’s going to be bloody amazing with a script by Aaron Sorkin and starring Rhys Ifans.
Future Live Music
I’ve got a particularly exciting 2020 to look forward to live music wise as I’ve already got tickets to see Green Day, Fall Out Boy & Weezer play London Stadium, Tame Impala at All Points East festival along with Glass Animals, Peter Hook & the Light playing a very special gig celebrating 40 years of Joy Division, and The Killers at the Emirates Stadium where I expect to hear a lot of their new, not yet released, album.
This month alone is looking like a good one, starting with Lail Arad next week. I’ve been following her for a good couple of years now, ever since me & Amy met her in a bar after a Rhiannon Giddens gig. Also next month I’m super excited to be seeing Jack Garrett again. He’s playing some extra special shows where he’ll be performing a couple of brand new tracks.
Gigs marked with a (J) are those which I got passes for through Jukely. You can get £10 off your first month by using my special code: JUKECE1
Did you manage to make it to any of these gigs or shows? Or maybe you saw some that I didn’t manage to catch. I’d love to hear in the comments below!