For the last 23 summers, Meltdown festival has allowed the Southbank Centre to hand over its programming calendar to a class of people hardly famed for their organisational skills – musicians. Luckily the impressive list of Meltdown curators (including David Bowie, John Peel and Yoko Ono) have always pulled through, making the festival an annual cultural highlight of the city.
With half of the Southbank Centre closed for renovation, we’ve been wondering how Elbow frontman Guy Garvey was going to fully perform his duties as this year’s Meltdown curator. Now, along with an exclusive look at the initial festival line-up, we’ve got an answer. And that answer is: boats!
The festival opens with Meltdown The River boat parties, setting off from Festival Pier with live music and DJs on board. Back on dry land, this year’s figurehead event is The Boat That We’re In: a one-off concert where Garvey will be joined by Robert Plant, Nick Mulvey, Josephine Oniyama and the Southbank’s orchestra and choirs. Tying in with the Red Cross benefit album ‘The Long Road’, it’s a musical response to the anguish of refugees in the Mediterranean. Little boats will be installed around the Festival Hall, showcasing refugee art and Garvey-picked playlists.
Also on board for this year’s festival are Laura Marling, The Staves, Femi Kuti, Connan Mockasin, This Is The Kit and Garvey’s mates I Am Kloot performing their ‘Sky at Night’ LP. The curator has even pressganged Josh T Pearson’s old band Lift To Experience, who’ll play their first gig in 15 years. Things aren’t all worthy and political either: when the sun goes down the Different Strokes Northern Soul DJs and high-concept disco crew Drunk At Vogue will help you get shipfaced.
Meltdown 2016 runs from June 10-19. Check back soon for ticket details.