Meltdown festival line-up

Check out who's playing at the Southbank Centre's series of music this summer

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© Belinda Lawley

For the last 21 summers, the Southbank Centre has handed over its programming calendar to a class of people hardly famed for their organisational skills – musicians. Luckily the likes of David Bowie, John Peel and (last year’s director) Yoko Ono always pull through, making the festival an annual cultural highlight of the city.

Few come better connected than this year’s Meltdown chief, James Lavelle. After working in a record shop, he founded the ’90s-defining Mo’Wax label with a £1,000 loan, became a big shot DJ and created his own music as UNKLE. More performers, talks, parties and workshops set to feature at this year's festival (Friday June 13 – Sunday June 22) will be announced over the coming weeks, but here are some of the acts confirmed so far...

Who's playing at Meltdown festival 2014?

UNKLE + Philip Sheppard

  • Critics choice

Kicking off Meltdown proceedings at the Royal Festival Hall will be a show from series curator James Lavelle and his multifaceted UNKLE collective, who will present an audiovisual and orchestral tour through their classy rock-meets-hip hop back catalogue. Cellist and composer Sheppard, who has frequently collaborated with UNKLE and recorded all 205 of the world's national anthems for the 2012 London Olympics, performs a support set.

  1. Royal Festival Hall Belvedere Rd, South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Fri Jun 13
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Grandmaster Flash + Scratch Perverts

  • Critics choice

Hip hop hero Grandmaster Flash is cited by pretty much any and every modern hip hop producer as an influence, which tells you a lot about what he contributed to the genre. His work with the Furious Five (including timeless cut 'The Message'), solo material and invaluable contributions to the arts of scratching, mixing and DJing have all ensured his place in the history books. Thus, Flash's performance at Meltdown should be a memorable one, aprticularly as it's bolstered by a set from contemporary hip hop/breaks/funk/bass crew Scratch Perverts.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Fri Jun 13
More info

Chrissie Hynde

  • Critics choice

The Pretenders’ frontwoman purveys a blend of gently bluesy pop-rock that has stood her in good stead since the ‘70s. She’s about to release her first ever solo album – featuring guest spots from Neil Young and, bizarrely, ’80s tennis ace John McEnroe – and this Meltdown performance is her first gig in five years, thus it should be special, so special.

  1. Royal Festival Hall Belvedere Rd, South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sat Jun 14
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Mark Lanegan

  • Critics choice

The troubled, tattooed, chain-smoking and once drug-ravaged wildman of alt rock plays a show at James Lavelle's Meltdown. Known for his work with Screaming Trees, Queens Of The Stone Age and The Gutter Twins, Lanegan is over here solo to play from his cheerily titled and critically acclaimed 2012 album 'Blues Funeral', and his new covers record 'Imitations', which features songs by Nick Cave, John Cale, Kurt Weill and, er, Hall & Oates.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sat Jun 14
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Petite Noir

  • Critics choice

Hotly tipped South African artist Yannick Ilunga delivers powerful, swirling electronica with Nick Cave-ish vocals: a surprisingly effective combination that should go down a treat at Meltdown.

  1. Purcell Room South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sat Jun 14
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Waltz with Bashir

  • Critics choice

Ari Folman's haunting, harrowing animated documentary about the Lebanon War is screened at Meltdown festival. 'Waltz with Bashir' will be accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, performing Max Richter's acclaimed, minimalist score, which incorporating everything from pounding electronics to Chopin. The live soundtrack makes this the perfect way to cross this must-see film off your bucket list.

  1. Southbank Centre Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
  2. Sun Jun 15
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Keaton Henson

  • Critics choice

Everyone from Adele to Bob Dylan has suffered from stage fright, but one of Time Out’s favourite singers has taken this anxiety to another level. The Londoner has only played about four gigs in the last three years, mostly in museums, so it’s doubly impressive that James Lavelle has managed to coax him out of hiding to bring his beautifully sad songs to Meltdown.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Mon Jun 16
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Edwyn Collins And Guests

  • Critics choice

As co-founder of Glaswegian band Orange Juice in the 1980s, Collins practically invented a certain strain of indie-pop, combining tricky chords and funky playing with witty, anti-macho lyrics. In February 2005 he suffered two serious strokes, resulting in neurological damage that affected his motor and language skills, and it took him four years to recover sufficiently to return to the live circuit. We're lucky still to have him around, and this Meltdown performance should be further proof that he's one of our top songwriters.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Tue Jun 17
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James Holden

  • Critics choice

Always one to pick his projects carefully, producer James Holden waited seven years after his acclaimed 2006 psychedelic electro album 'The Idiots Are Winning' before releasing a follow-up, 'The Inheritors', along the way nurturing his Border Community record label. It was worth the wait. 'The Inheritors' proved a fascinating, sprawling electronic journey, highly experimental but also hugely engaging. Holden will likely be performing a lot of material from the album at his Meltdown show, so prepare to be guided through a heady digital trip, but performed in a live context.

  1. Purcell Room South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Tue Jun 17
More info

Radkey

  • Critics choice

Teen brothers Dee, Isaiah and Solomon Radke grew up in suburban St Joseph, Missouri. Apparently there wasn’t much to do, so they formed a brilliantly snotty punk trio (imagine Misfits meet Queens Of The Stone Age), hired their dad as manager and started riffing their way across the globe. The Southbank Centre won’t know what’s hit it as they play Meltdown.

  1. Southbank Centre Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
  2. Tue Jun 17
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Trentemøller

  • Critics choice

The enigmatic Danish electronica don took a new direction with his 'Lost' album last year, favouring smokey, gothic blues-rock over his usual melodic soundscapes. Expect a combination of both these sounds and more in his Meltdown show, as he's now taken to performing with a live band – but with plenty of synths and electronic gadgetry still very much a part of the show, too.

  1. Royal Festival Hall Belvedere Rd, South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Tue Jun 17
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Glass Animals + Rosie Lowe

  • Critics choice

Hailing from Oxford, this experimental electronic-pop outfit were signed to Wolf Tone, the new label of finger-on-the-pulse producer Paul Epworth (he's helped launch and nurture the careers of Adele, Friendly Fires, Florence and the Machine and Plan B, amongst others), towards the end of last year, which will do them absolutely no harm whatsoever. Their current 'Gooey' EP – full of lush, hazy pop curveballs layered with psychedelic synth-work and gentle electronic beats – is a fine indication of where they're at, and should receive an airing during their Meltdown performance, which certainly won't be the last you hear of them. They're joined by London-based songwriter and producer of down-tempo digi-pop, Rosie Lowe.

  1. Southbank Centre Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
  2. Wed Jun 18
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Neneh Cherry

  • Critics choice

After working with Four Tet and noise duo Rocketnumbernine on her new LP ‘Blank Project’, ever-creative idol Neneh Cherry has found another genre-defying sound which she’ll be showcasing at Meltdown. We say: adopt a buffalo stance and prepare to get Cherry bombed.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Wed Jun 18
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Under the Skin

  • Critics choice

Jonathan Glazer's eerie, sexy sci-fi film gets the live soundtrack treatment for Meltdown. 'Under the Skin' stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien seductress who touches down in Glasgow (where else?), and its intense atmosphere owes much to its subtly insistent score, which will be performed tonight by its composer Mica Levi (aka Micachu) and the Orchestrate ensemble.

  1. Royal Festival Hall Belvedere Rd, South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Wed Jun 18
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DJ Harvey

  • Critics choice

A rare gem of a UK appearance by DJ Harvey, the man who helped pioneer the disco edit and known as an all-round legendary DJ over several decades. There are few DJs worth their salt today who don't have at least a little love for Harvey, who has effectively been on hiatus for the best part of ten years. Tonight, James Lavelle has booked him for Meltdown – expect a huge party soundtracked by cosmic disco, thumping funk-driven house, dancefloor-oriented techno and a whole lot more, all supplied by the deft hands of a master craftsman.

  1. London Wonderground Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
  2. Thu Jun 19
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Goldie/The Heritage Orchestra

The gold-toothed drum ’n’ bass icon will be performing his seminal album ‘Timeless’ for the first time in full at Meltdown, and will be accompanied by the Heritage Orchestra. Considering he took the runner-up prize in conducting talent show ‘Maestro’ back in 2008, we’re hoping he’ll whip out his baton and wave it about like a pro to inspire the orchestra. And then do some conducting.

  1. Royal Festival Hall Belvedere Rd, South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sat Jun 21
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ESG + 23 Skidoo

  • Critics choice

As well as teen punk brothers Radkey, James Lavelle’s snagged another sibling band for Meltdown. ESG are four sisters from the Bronx who became one of the most influential acts to emerge from NYC’s ’70s post-punk scene. The Scroggins sisters’ stripped-down and spooked jams are some of the grooviest and coolest sounds ever committed to vinyl, so miss them at your peril. Here they're supported by tribal, funky, industrial-edged post-punk band 23 Skidoo.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sat Jun 21
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Meltdown Sessions

Taking place on three Saturday afternoons throughout Meltdown, the Sessions are a series of talks and Q&A sessions with big music, arts and media names, aimed at helping young people advance in the creative industries. One ticket will get you into any of the talks on a single day.

  1. Southbank Centre Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
  2. Sat Jun 14 - Sat Jun 21
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Jeff Mills + A Guy Called Gerald

  • Critics choice

A luminary of Detroit's rich electronic music scene, Jeff Mills brings his spiky, industrial techno to London for what should be a frantic and intoxicating Meltdown performance. A founding member of Detroit collective underground resistance, Mills quickly became techno royalty thanks to his unrelenting approach and desire to push the boundaries of what could be achieved through electronic music.

Joining Mills is A Guy Called Gerald, one of the UK's own electronic behemoths. Known as one of the founding members of highly influential '90s house act 808 State, Gerald went on to help spread acid house across the UK through his own psychedelic productions, which owe as much to the hedonisitc Manchester electronic scene of the late '80s/early '90s as they do to Chicago house and Detroit techno.

  1. Royal Festival Hall Belvedere Rd, South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sun Jun 22
More info

Sunday Come Down

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This family-friendly, open-air afternoon party at Meltdown offers anyone a chance to tune into the festival's gently weird wavelength. It features a free performance by Jeremy Deller's Acid Brass project, a full brass band playing renditions of classic house tracks – not recommended if you've actually had a heavy night.

  1. Southbank Centre Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
  2. Sun Jun 22
More info

Enlightenment

  • Critics choice

Join Paul Bradshaw, creator of the ’80s and ’90s house music magazine 'Straight No Chaser', as he hosts a celebration and 're-envisioning' of John Coltrane's hyper-influential 1965 record 'A Love Supreme' for Meltdown festival.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sun Jun 22
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Urban Archaeology – 21 Years of Mo’Wax

  • Free

Meltdown curator James Lavelle delves into the history of his influential Mo’wax record label with a fan-funded exhibition. Check out record sleeves, unseen artwork, photographs, memos and odds and ends from Lavelle and the label's artists throughout its two decades of existence, including DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, Liquid Liquid and Lavelle's own UNKLE project.

  1. Southbank Centre Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
  2. Fri Jun 13 - Sun Jun 22
More info

For more information on the festival visit the Meltdown website.


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