This summer, the BBC presents a celebration of live music across radio, TV, BBC Sounds and iPlayer.
BBC Radio 2 In Concert returns this July with an exclusive performance from Blur, as announced by Jo Whiley on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show this morning (Monday 3 July). Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree will be performing in front of a small audience of Radio 2 listeners at the BBC’s Radio Theatre in New Broadcasting House, London.
The show will be live on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds, and streamed in vision on BBC iPlayer from 7-9pm on Tuesday 18 July. The concert will also be shown on BBC Two and on demand on BBC iPlayer at a later date. The concert will be available to listen to on BBC Sounds for 30 days after broadcast.
Tickets will be allocated via ballot, with audiences able to apply at www.bbc.co.uk/radio2inconcert. Registration is open now, and closes at 23:59 on Sunday 9 July.
Jo Whiley, host of Radio 2 In Concert, says: “I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Blur and the trailblazing music they’ve brought us over the years. I remember first interviewing them almost 30 years ago with Steve Lamacq on Radio 1’s Evening Session – it’s so good to have them back with new material. This intimate Radio 2 In Concert performance promises to be a real treat for all the fans. Please do join us for what promises to be a night to remember – WOO HOO!”
Jeff Smith, Head of Music for Radio 2, says: “At Radio 2, we’re committed to delivering live and exclusive music sessions from the world’s most loved artists, so I’m delighted that Blur will be returning to the Radio Theatre for Radio 2 In Concert. We will all be excited to see such a legendary band perform both classic hits and some brand new material in such an iconic and intimate setting.”
Blur’s Alex James says: “It’s going to be great. We’re going to play a bunch of our favourite stuff, some old and some new.”
Blur last appeared on Radio 2 on Jo Whiley’s show in May earlier this year following the surprise announcement of their new album, The Ballad of Darren – their first in eight years – which will be released later in July. The record comes after Blur announced in November 2022 that they were reuniting for their 35-year anniversary.
Blur’s Radio 2 In Concert builds on the huge range of live music the station has already brought to music lovers this year. On Jo Whiley’s show (Monday to Thursday, 7-9pm), she has featured Sofa Sessions from Far From Saints, The Teskey Brothers, Ben Howard, The Lathums, Christine & The Queens, Galen & Paul, Ellie Dixon, Fenne Lily, Lissie and Gabrielle Aplin. Recently in his new Radio 2 mid-morning show (Monday to Friday, 9.30am-12pm), Vernon Kay welcomed new Piano Room sessions from Def Leppard and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Across February 2023, Radio 2’s Piano Room Month featured a star-studded line-up of artists, each of whom performed with the BBC Concert Orchestra live from Maida Vale studios. Performers included Stormzy, P!nk, Sugababes, Suede, Haircut 100 and Jake Shears feat. special guest Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys. And in September, Radio 2 in the Park – the network’s first flagship event since Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park in 2019 – will take place in Leicester on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September, with Tears for Fears and Kylie headlining, and Bananarama, Texas, James Blunt, Deacon Blue, Beverley Knight, Busted, Soft Cell, Pretenders, Shalamar, Rick Astley, Jessie Ware, Lemar, Sam Ryder and Simply Red also performing across the weekend.
In addition, BBC Sounds today launches a Blur Artists Icon collection. This includes: a brand new Radio 2 programme, Blur At The BBC, which will tell the band’s story through their music and archive interviews (also broadcast on Radio 2 on Sunday 9 July, 12-1am); Blur and Me, in which comedian and superfan Josh Widdecombe picks an hour of his favourite Blur tracks; For Fans of Blur, an hour of music that influenced Blur as well as music from the artists they went on to inspire; Blur in conversation with BBC Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, offering listeners another chance to hear Steve’s exclusive interview with the band from 2023 on 6 Music; Blur Live In London, a live recording first broadcast on 6 Music from London’s Astoria and Brixton Academy in 1997; and Blur Live at Peel Acres, a chance to hear the band performing live in the garden of Peel Acres, John Peel’s home, in 1997.
In addition, BBC Four and BBC Two will keep music lovers entertained throughout the summer with their brilliant seasons of live concert programming.
Until the 8 September, BBC Four will dedicate Friday nights to the celebration of live music. These themed nights will showcase artists in concert from across the decades in predominantly BBC-captured performances. This will include David Bowie Live at the BBC Radio Theatre from 2000 in July on BBC Four, an intimate performance filmed two days after Bowie headlined Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage and not seen on television since 2012. Presented by BBC Radio 6 Music’s Chris Hawkins, the concert features iconic hits such as Let’s Dance, Ashes to Ashes and The Man Who Sold The World.
Friday 7 July will be an 80s Synth Night, featuring archive performances from Radio 2 In Concerts with A-Ha (2016) and Tears for Fears (2017) , Annie Lennox and Toyah. Friday 14 July will be devoted to Soul Legends, including concerts from Gladys Knight and the Pips, Bill Withers and Seal for Radio 2 In Concert in 2015. Later in July, Ska Night will feature a 2016 performance from Madness at Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park, and a 2021 session from The Specials for 6 Music. In August’s Country Night, fans can look forward to archive performances from Bonnie Raitt and Shania Twain, and 70s Rock Night will feature an archive performance from 1977 of Elkie Brooks for Sight and Sound in Concert. R&B Night will see sets from Alicia Keys and Lizzo, and 80 Rock Night sees performances from Bon Jovi for Radio 2 In Concert from the BBC Radio Theatre in 2009. BBC Four’s summer of live music concludes with archive recordings of performances from Paul McCartney, Adele and Michael Bublé across the summer months.
This season follows Glastonbury Night on BBC Four, a collection of archive concerts from some of the musical legends who appeared at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, broadcast on Friday 30 June and currently available on BBC iPlayer. This includes Elton John: Live at Wembley Arena from 1977, a special Elton John charity concert originally shown on BBC One on a November evening in 1977 and shortened to 50 minutes to fit in between Are You Being Served? and an episode of Panorama. The concert famously saw Elton announce his retirement from live touring – a commitment that fans everywhere were happy to see him eventually break. Now, using extra footage from the BBC archives, this longer version of the show is being screened for the very first time, restoring some classic Elton performances of songs like Benny and the Jets, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. This new extended version also sees Elton joined onstage by fellow music legend Stevie Wonder for an incredibly rare guest appearance. Elton John: Live at Wembley Arena will be followed by archive concerts from Blondie, Manic Street Preachers, Texas and Sparks.
On BBC Two in August, there will be a celebration of Motown, featuring rarely-seen performances from legendary artists Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Also in August, Girls Bands Night will include a performance from Girls Aloud live at the O2 Arena from 2008. And in early September, audiences can enjoy Rihanna’s headline set from BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in 2010, shown for the first time since its original broadcast.
This season follows the release of landmark new music documentary, The Trouble with KanYe. Unfolding against the backdrop of Ye’s recent behaviour and his rumoured 2024 Presidential campaign, this feature documentary sees award-winning journalist Mobeen Azhar travelling to the United States to try and discover how one of America’s most celebrated artists became a megaphone for hate and division. First shown on BBC Two on Wednesday 28 June, The Trouble with KanYe is currently available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
Jonathan Rothery, BBC Head of Pop Music TV says: “This summer, we are thrilled to take audiences on a journey through live music history. Across BBC Four and BBC Two, we will celebrate an incredible diversity of music, from country and ska, to rock and R&B. Particular highlights from the archive include David Bowie Live at the BBC Radio Theatre from 2000, not broadcast since 2012, and shown for the first time since original broadcasts, Elton John: Live at Wembley Arena from 1977, and Rihanna’s headline set from BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in 2010.”
BBC Radio 2