UK Winter Music Preview

by Laura Randall

Halloween is just around the corner, meaning it won’t be long before the Christmas markets are lining Hyde Park and festive lights are shining down on hectic shoppers across Oxford Street. Think of autumn as the warm up to The Party Season and without a good stretch of those dancing shoes you won’t be able to keep on moving through to 2012. My advice is to get your permanent marker out and jot these plans in your diary as MUST DOs for the lead up to Christmas. Without them you’re sure to spend the best season of them all holed up in front of the fire when what you should be doing is dancing the cold away.

Proof that this season is going to be the hottest one of the year is the selection of gigs spread across the capital. Going to a gig has got to be the ultimate evening of euphoria and nothing warms the heart more than hearing a crowd throb to the beat of an anthem. Be sure to book tickets to all of the events below as each are guaranteed to blow your woolly socks off-

  • Bombay Bicycle Clubare using their unforgettably energy to wow the crowds at Brixton Academy on the 19th October, before kicking the night up a notch with a DJ set at the Jamm after party.

    Bombay Bicycle Club

  • Florence and her fabulous Machine are showcasing the hits that have charmed our ears so eloquently in the past few weeks. What The Water Gave Me and Shake It Out are definite party starters and will get you pounding your foot to the beat of her drum on the 25th October at the Hackney Empire Theatre.
  • If you haven’t got plans for Halloween yet then get ready to make them (and if you have, then get ready to break them) because Arctic Monkeys are performing with special guests The Vaccines on Saturday 29th at the O2 arena. This coalition of indie talent will haunt you through the night and with clubs across the capital opening their doors to the living dead all weekend I’d recommend putting on your dancing shoes, you sexy little swine.
  • Rihanna has already bombarded England with her Barbadian talent this October but if you were crazy enough to miss her then she’s turning up the heat again in November with another string of UK dates.
  • Bob Dylan is giving the UK a rare performance at the Hammersmith Apollo on the 19-21st November. Tickets are sure to sell out in minutes but if you’re lucky enough to get you hands on one then hold on to it tight and enjoy the night!
  • James Blake blew crowds away at this years festivals and a one off performance at the HMV Forum on the 30th November is something I couldn’t recommend enough. His voice will warm the coldest of hearts and if you don’t walk out blubbering then you’ll at least walk out in awe.
  • This is set to be the gig of the year! M83 doesn’t officially release ‘Hurry Up We’re Dreaming’ for a few more weeks and yet the free stream on Urban Outfitters’ website has caused a surge of fans to fall at Anthony Gonzalez’s feet. On the 1st December you shouldn’t be anywhere else than at Heaven to watch this and if you are, then Santa wont bring you anything for Christmas.
  • Little Dragon is at Shepherds Bush Empire on the 4th December and as her album has been a huge hit in 2011 her live performance of it can only be better.
  • The Drums have been bringing in the crowds since they surfed onto the scene last year with hits from their self entitled album. Now that Portamento has taken its rightful place on most people’s iTunes, I can only imagine how much energy is going to be pouring out of Shepherds’ Bush Empire on the 9th December.
Plan B

If that list didn’t get you excited for life over the next few months then I think you need to reassess your priorities. But, if you are a social maniac and you need a little more to wet your Autumn appetite then how about attending one of the many events held by Oxfam over the next month. Changing its name to Oxjam, the charity is holding a unique series of live music events to take over Brick Lane, Islingon, Chiswick, Camberwell, Stoke Newington and Brixton. Talent from beatboxers, drum and bass DJs, poets, singer-song writers and even the odd magician will be performing for your pleasure, whilst Plan B is set to make an appearance at the Brixton take over. Make sure you show your face. Come on, it’s for charity!

By the end of the October we welcome back the annual Freeze Festival that sees extreme sports take over Battersea Power Station for a celebration of all things fun! If extreme sports doesn’t do it for you then perhaps the fact that this will be the LAST EVER London performance by The Streets will. Guaranteed to be an unmissable show, Mike Skinner will join Groove Armada, Zane Lowe, Spector and many more for a spectacular night of music, sport and dancing to keep the icicles at bay.

As a perfect recovery from the cold of the Freeze Festival is a party that’s embracing warmer climates. The Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project, on the 12th November, has a lineup that’s being kept tightly under wraps. Last year’s event was seriously big and as this year sees London swapping its black cabs and wintery weather for the caribbean spirit of Jamaica, the big freeze is to be locked outside as Alexandra Palace gets taken over by the carnival atmosphere.

Early November brings the christmas markets, firework displays and switching on of the lights throughout the country. The Natural History Museum is the first ice rink to open on the 4th November. Somerset House, Winter Wonderland and the rest will follow not long after. There’s so many free activities to immerse yourself in once the christmas flood gates open to the excitable crowd of children and adults alike so warm those hands on a mulled cider before hitting the ice rinks.

By now your diary should be well and truly bursting at the seams with what’s going to bring your 2011 to a close. Whether it will be a fond farewell or a celebration that it’s over, be sure to keep the final months of the year an erupting, gala of music and entertainment. There’s no better way to banish those winter blues.

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