Get us in your inbox

Search
solange
Photograph: Max Hirschberger

Gigs to look forward to in London in 2021

Keep your fingers crossed for intimate gigs from homegrown London acts like Arlo Parks and Greentea Peng, and huge stadium shows from Lady Gaga and Stormzy

Written by
Alexandra Sims
Advertising

There’s no point beating around the bush: it’s been an abysmal period for the live music industry. From the cancellation of the summer festival season to venues – whether small and indie or large and world-renowned – all struggling to survive as thousands of gigs were postponed and cancelled. However, a new year and the prospect of a vaccine roll-out means there’s fresh optimism for the sweet sounds of live music meeting our ears again.

Huge London shows from the likes of Lady Gaga, Stormzy, Elton John and The Weeknd have all been given rescheduled dates for 2021, as have gigs from exciting local talents Arlo Parks, Greentea Peng and Nova Twins.

Here’s our pick of the best gigs in London in 2021 that you can still get tickets for. Do bear in mind that as the year plays out, even more postponements could be on the cards. Big shows rescheduled for early this year – like those from Avril Lavigne, Ozzy Osbourne, Yungblud, The Who and Harry Styles – are already due to be rescheduled yet again in 2021, so keep an eye out for those.

Whatever happens, absence makes the heart grow fonder. So you can be sure the first gigs we go to this year are going to be some of the best we’ve ever experienced. 

RECOMMENDED: How to support London nightlife, now and in the future

Gigs to book in 2021

After his triumphant headline performance at Glastonbury in 2019 (remember festivals?) and the release of his second album, the young ‘King of Grime’ has occupied himself by beefing with various UK grime stars while waiting for the start of his rescheduled world tour. Catch him vossi bopping at the O2 in April. Unless your name is Wiley. Or Chip.

The O2. Apr 12-14.  

Richard Butler’s razor-edged, post-punk melodicists (best known for a sugary rerecording of ‘Pretty in Pink’) are celebrating the groovily noir-ish/arty release ‘Made Of Rain’ – their first new album in nearly 30 years – with a special gig at the Royal Albert Hall. 

Royal Albert Hall. Apr 27. 

Advertising

Unleash all that pent up lockdown energy by thrashing around to a dirty cacophony of sound from this London-based grunge-punk duo. Fusing together grime, punk, and electronica, this is metal reimaged, spat out with bristling intensity by Amy Love and Georgia South. 

Colours Hoxton. Apr 29. 

After the year we’ve had, we could all do with a soothing dose of Greentea Peng (aka Aria Wells) and her lo-fi psychedelic soul. Mixing husky vocals, jazz inflections, dub and reggae beats all with a DIY-style production, Wells is one of the most exciting acts to come out of London right now and this will be her biggest UK show to date. 

EartH Hackney. Apr 28. 

Advertising

Norwegian black metal band Emperor is set to headline this festival dedicated to the darkest and heaviest acts in the musical world. A multi-venue festival, gigs from the likes of Bloodbath, Dark Funeral, Tsjuder, Vomitory and more will take over the Electric Ballroom, Underworld, Black Heart and the Roundhouse. If you’ve missed London’s venues as much as the live music, do a gig crawl round them all. 

Various venues. May 8. 

Advertising

Just before everything went to pot, cult London musician with a gift of the gab Archy Marshall (better known as King Krule) released his third album ‘Man Alive!’. Now, finally, you can hear the visceral vocals and jagged riffs of these new tracks in the flesh. 

O2 Academy Brixton. May 28. 

One of the capital’s smartest lyricists, 20-year-old Arlo Parks from west London mixes lo-fi alt-pop and nu-jazz with beautifully poetic lyrics. Throughout the pandemic, she’s been a leading light calling for more support for the music industry.  Hear her live on her latest tour in support of her debut album ‘Collapsed in Sunbeams’, which takes its name from a line in Zadie Smith’s novel ‘On Beauty’.

Village Underground. Jun 2. 

Advertising

After a long, wretched summer almost completely devoid of live music, we have a feeling that this year’s festival season will feel that bit more special. Satisfy your craving for half-hour portaloo queues and £6 pints of warm Carling by booking for one of Pearl Jam or Durran Durran’s rescheduled headline dates at British Summer Time, with support from Pixies, Idles, Nile Rogers and Grace Jones.

Hyde Park. Jul 9 - 11. 

We may not have seen the iconic Ms. Ross take to the stage last summer for her well-deserved Glastonbury legends slot, but thankfully her UK tour dates have been rescheduled. This is a very big deal: the former Supremes singer hasn’t performed in the UK since 2007, and with decades of hits under her (probably sequinned) belt, you can hope for an all-killer-no-filler setlist. 

The O2. Jun 21-22 & Jul 15. 

Advertising

The genre-blending alt-pop auteur celebrates the 20th anniversary of her stunning, Neptunes-produced debut album ‘Kaleidoscope’. It’s home to her famous breakthrough hit ‘Caught Out There’ – a.k.a. ‘I hate you so much right now!’ – but the rest of the album still sounds pretty tremendous, too.

Roundhouse. Jun 29. 

Advertising

If you want to crash back into gig going with a bang, seeing Oklahoma odd balls The Flaming Lips is a pretty good place to start. The psychedelic rock group is well known for its wild stage presence – including props, costumes, and confetti cannons – the perfect antidote to the barren musical wasteland we’ve all endured. They also reinvented the gig format in 2020, although this show in north London looks set to be a more trad format. Well, as trad as these guys get, anyway. 

O2 Forum Kentish Town. Jul 23. 

Advertising

Damon Albarn’s virtual band Gorillaz are playing live next year for the first time since 2018. The homecoming show will follow the release of the band’s twentieth-anniversary composition series ‘Song Machine’, which features guest musicians Elton John and St Vincent. The jury’s out on whether they’ll be making an appearance too, but you can bank on a rendition of ‘Clint Eastwood’, the most overplayed hit of 2001.

The O2. Aug 11. 

The reigning princess of British pop brings her ‘Future Nostalgia’ tour to the capital in support of her critically-acclaimed album of the same name. Get ready to fist-pump to the huge, house-influenced hit Dont Start Now.

The O2. Sep 24-25. 

Advertising

American singer-songwriter, visual artist, poet and the Godmother of punk rock Patti Smith comes to the Royal Albert Hall to perform her all-time classic hits with her band. It’s her first time performing at the illustrious venue. Prepare for unadulterated magic. 

Royal Albert Hall. Oct 4-5. 

Confidence Man is actually four people from Australia touting super-fun, kitschy dancefloor bangers. CM’s live shows are famed for some pretty wacky shape-pulling – imagine two people who look like disgraced kids’ TV presenters (singers Janet Planet and Sugar Bones) leading a 2am exercise class for two mysterious men in masks (that’s instrumentalists Clarence McGuffie and Reggie Goodchild). Just the vibe we need for our heady future gig-going days. 

O2 Forum Kentish Town. Oct 14.  

Advertising

IAMDDB’s cock-sure combination of raw trap beats and thick, wavey vocals outline her position at the forefront of what she calls ‘urban jazz’.

O2 Forum Kentish Town. Oct 17. 

When R&B singer Abel Tesfaye released his debut mixtape in 2011, House of Balloons, he did so hidden behind the Weeknd moniker: faceless and nameless, with no pictures, concerts, or interviews. Since then, he’s made the leap from mystery-cloaked, DIY hype man to superstar. Even if you still don’t know who he is, you’ll have definitely heard his ‘80s-influenced pop-single ‘Blinding Lights’, which was played pretty much everywhere (that was open!) in 2020. 

The O2. Oct 25-31. 

Advertising

Bon Iver, the chart-topping indie-folk band led by Justin Vernon, had a busy 2020 featuring on Taylor Swift’s ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’ albums and even writing original music for weekly exercise classes on YouTube. Now hear their beautiful and emotive songs in a setting more befitting of their greatness. 

SSE Arena Wembley. Nov 1-2. 

If Elton’s rendition of ‘I’m Dill Danding’ – sorry, ‘I'm Still Standing’ – at the One World Together at Home Concert back in March hasn’t put you off seeing him live, then grab your tickets pronto for what the superstar has said will be his last ever tour. Y’know what? We could all do with a bit of his high-key extravagance right now. 

The O2. Nov 2- 17. 

Advertising

This gig from the London-based Japanese singer is one of the most in-demand tickets in town – thanks, in part, to her debut album ‘Sawayama’, which takes in genres as diverse as house and anthemic queer balladry, plus samples of Beethoven and Final Fantasy IX.  

Electric Brixton. Nov 16. 

Worship at the altar of female punk and grunge royalty, as Blondie is joined by Garbage to storm the stage at the O2. Debbie Harry and Shirley Manson is a combo made in heaven. 

The O2. Nov 18. 

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising