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Why the Peaky Blinders festival looks... blinding!

Written by
Oliver Keens

A DJ buddy did a corporate gig recently. To pay the bills. When she asked what type of music they wanted her to play, she got a two-word reply: ‘Peaky Blinders’.

It’s hard to overstate the cultural impact of the BBC’s hard-edged upending of the traditional costume drama. Aside from the tense, violent storyline rendered by stars Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory, it’s the show’s sense of style and musical nous that has helped make it a modern global phenomenon.

Like mods and punks of the past, ‘Peaky Blinders’ fans have become their own legitimate tribe in the cultural melange of British life. Albeit more middle-aged, possibly with a hatchback in the driveway and a glovebox full of Nick Cave CDs.

David Beckham is well Peaky (he’s even launched a clothing range via Kent & Curwen, which he co-owns). Snoop Dogg is a fan too. Superdrug is about to launch a grooming range inspired by the show. Peaky-themed stag and hen dos scourge the land. So we’re not surprised that so many Londoners are considering leaving the city for what’s formally titled The Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival.

It’s a proper two-day music fest, on the streets of Digbeth in Birmingham, where the show is set, and which will transform – Secret Cinema-style – into the world of the Shelby family circa 1919. The event’s credentials are genuinely impressive. It’s an official collaboration, co-curated by the show’s creator, Steven Knight. Cast members Paul Anderson (Arthur Shelby), Harry Kirton (Finn Shelby), Packy Lee (Johnny Dogs), Kate Phillips (Linda Shelby) and Paddy Considine (Father John Hughes) will all be present, while Cillian Murphy will bring Tommy Shelby to Digbeth via video link. The creative team behind the wildly imaginative Boomtown Festival is directing the immersive elements, featuring 200 actors either slyly blending in or breaking out to stage scenes in local warehouses and factories. There’s contemporary dance from London company Rambert, and onsite tailors and barbers doing traditional wet shaves.

And then there’s the music, which does justice to the series’ trademark sound: noirish crunchy rock with occasional flashes of either tender soul or peat-black murk. Primal Scream, Frank Turner & The Rattlesnakes, Slaves, Nadine Shah and Anna Calvi are all playing over five stages (Calvi has also contributed original songs for the current series). Brummie hero Mike Skinner is doing a Peaky-inspired DJ set, plus there’s a huge side order of jazz and swing acts like The Correspondents, The Jive Aces and The Heavybeat Brass Band. There’s also a major act still to be announced. Let’s hope they persuade Nick Cave to do it: by order of the Peaky Blinders.

...and here are ten more TV shows that should become festivals

Game of Thrones
The weekend starts off AMAZING, but ends up being RUBBISH.

Killing Eve
You’re just inches away from your mate approximately 800 times over the weekend without ever managing to spot them. Then you bump into each other twice in the last hour.

Love Island
A load of single people dancing in slow motion to a Ministry of Sound compilation on a portable bluetooth speaker. Tiger Tiger, basically.

The Apprentice
Lord Sugar is a born headliner, but beware the risk of appalling ticket sales, a cornucopia of cock-ups and a sad taxi home.

Antiques Roadshow
Headliners The Rolling Stones, Little Richard and Cliff Richard will be wheeled on, constantly wagging their fingers upwards to the deafened sound engineers.

Don’t worry, the sniffer dogs will be given extra treats after working this one.

The Great British Bake Off
A lone gingham tent alternates between soft rock acts and innuendo-laden stand-up. Torrential rain leads to an outbreak of soggy bottoms.

Idris Elba DJing in a grey Chesterfield overcoat for days on end.

The Inbetweeners
Every UK festival ever…

Festival picks by Kyle MacNeill. Illustrations by Daniel Mitchell.

The Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival takes place in Digbeth, Birmingham Sep 14-15. Check out more great gigs happening in September here.

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