Meltdown 2010

Friday 11th to Sunday 20th June 2010
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX, England MAP
varies dependant on event from around £12 to £30
last updated: Thu 6th May 2010

Massive Attack's Meltdown

The dates for Meltdown 2010 are confirmed as Friday 11th until Sunday 20th June.

Each year MELTDOWN offers a guest director the chance to produce his or her own fantasy festival, mixing artists and art forms, reflecting their own personal passions and interests. The director for 2010 is Richard Thompson.


Opening Southbank Centre’s iconic, artist-curated Festival on Friday 11 June, will be the UK premiere of Cabaret of Souls, the wickedly observed musical chronicle of a talent contest set in hell. Written and composed by Richard Thompson himself, this ambitious, 80-minute song cycle was commissioned by the International Society of Bassists and written for his long-time friend and bassist Danny Thompson, who is featured, alongside Judith Owen, Debra Dobkin, Peter Zorn, Spinal Tap and The Simpsons Harry Shearer and a 10-piece string section.

Saturday 12 June* sees a host of friends and family line up for a Celebration of Kate McGarrigle, who died in January 2010. This very special event, put together by legendary producer Joe Boyd, includes performances by Lisa Hannigan; Nick Cave; Emmylou Harris; Lily Lanken; Sylvain Lanken; Anna McGarrigle; Jenni Muldaur, Beth Orton, Linda Ronstadt; Kami Thompson; Linda Thompson; Richard Thompson; Teddy Thompson; Martha Wainwright; Rufus Wainwright and Krystle Warren. In The Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Fratellis frontman Jon Lawler’s deliciously noirish collaboration with burlesque singer Lou Hickey play as Codeine Velvet Club, with support from Thomas White. Master musician, songwriter and long-time Americana touchstone, Joe Henry plays the Purcell Room.
(*4.30pm start, due to US vs. England World Cup match, which will be screened in the Clore Ballroom)

Taking Meltdown in an entirely different direction, Malaysian boyband Raihan perform in the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 13 June. Hugely popular right across the Islamic world, with album sales of over five million, Raihan seamlessly blend Far Eastern and Western styles and are renowned for their beautiful lyrics infused with powerful messages. In a night that demonstrates the breadth of our Meltdown director's interests, the Philharmonia Orchestra play the work of Alan Hovhannes, one of Richard Thompson's favourite composers, in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and spellbinding Missouri-born singer-songwriter Krystle Warren performs in the Purcell Room.

On Monday 14 June, Steven Gene Wold, aka the inimitable Seasick Steve, will take over the stage of the Royal Festival Hall for an evening of the best hobo blues, while Martin Simpson, John Etheridge and special guests celebrate the guitar in the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Across the foyer in the Purcell Room will be a screening of Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man, the remarkable film of the life and death of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell, with a sparkling score composed and performed by Richard Thompson.

Following critical acclaim for his number one album Sunny Side Up, sell-out tours and support stints with the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Paul Weller, the prodigiously talented 23 year-old Paisley-born singer songwriter Paolo Nutini, performs on the stage of the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday 15 June. Sunderland's finest Field Music play in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, with support from Connor O'Brien's spellbinding new band Villagers.

On Wednesday 16 June, in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Cajun dancehall legends Beausoleil from Lafayette, Louisiana prove our director’s belief that Cajun music “is the best thing to dance to on Planet Earth”. Ollabelle, the New York five-piece folk music group named after the influential Appalachian songwriter Ola Belle Reed, perform in the Purcell Room with support from Emily Smith. Richard's son Teddy Thompson will perform in the Royal Festival Hall

On Thursday 17 June, three of Richard’s abiding passions – cricket, politics and soul music - are celebrated in one night across three venues. A month on from the UK General Election, An Evening of Political Song in the Royal Festival Hall (the venue of New Labour's 1997 victory celebrations) features performances of protest and rebellion by Neil Hannon, Tom Robinson, Jez Lowe, Eliza Carthy, Martin Carthy, Boris Grebenshikov and Emily Smith. In the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Neil Hannon and his new band perform music from Duckworth Lewis Method (the best album about cricket ever recorded...), supported by The Leisure Society’s beguiling and peculiarly English strain of Americana. Bettye LaVette, one of the director’s favourite soul singers, performs in the Purcell Room.

Friday 18 June, sees an intriguing double bill in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, featuring the visionary musician, composer and producer Van Dyke Parks and Clare Muldaur Manchon’s hotly tipped Clare and The Reasons. Van Dyke Parks, who has worked with everyone from Grace Kelly and The Beach Boys to Joanna Newsom, mentored Richard when he first moved to Los Angeles. This will be the first time he will be performing his own songs in the UK. Richard Thompson has invited the cast of his favourite radio show 'I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue' to perform at his in the Royal Festival Hall. This special Meltdown staging of BBC Radio 4's long-running, self-styled antidote to panel games, will be chaired by Rob Brydon, with regular players Graham Gardner, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cryer and Jeremy Hardy.

In a special afternoon performance on Saturday 19 June, that demonstrates his versatility as a performer and interpreter of songs, Thompson reprises his hugely popular and ludicrously ambitious show 1000 Years of Popular Song, which has seen him perform everything from Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas to Nelly Furtado’s Maneater, via Gilbert & Sullivan and The Kinks. Later on that evening, in the same venue, Richard Thompson performs with long-time friend and collaborator Loudon Wainwright III as Loud and Rich, in a night of classic songs from their respective back catalogues, and jokes about who can produce the most musical offspring. Turning up the volume in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Taqwacore Punk Night sees performances by two bands – The Kominas and Al Thawra - from the burgeoning Islamic punk scene in the US, together with UK-based band Fun-DA-mental. In the Purcell Room, a screening of Taqwa Core – The Birth of Punk Islam will be followed by a Q&A on the scene that is a musical expression of a generation of American Muslims caught between the puritanical interpretation of Islam of their parents and the liberal morality and seductive consumerism of the West. Meanwhile, Fisherman’s Friends – the traditional Cornish band who recently landed a £1m record deal from Universal – perform for FREE in The Clore Ballroom at 1pm and 6.30pm. (N.B. Full programme of FREE events to be announced soon)

Sunday 20 June sees a rare chance to catch Richard’s long-time friend and collaborator Elvis Costello with his guitar and a hatful of some of the finest songs ever written, perform solo in the Royal Festival Hall. Richard’s daughter Kami Thompson supports on this very special evening. In the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre Artist in Residence Oliver Coates.

String Quartet play some of Richard’s favourite classical works, including Dutilleux Ainsi la Nuit, Ravel Duo for Violin and Cello and Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8.

In a hotly-anticipated event that sees the unlikely, and very Meltdown pairing of surrealist hip-hop producer Danger Mouse and The Shin’s front man James Mercer, the Festival closes on Monday 21 June, with Broken Bells’ first live show since the release of their critically acclaimed self-titled debut album.

More will be announced soon.


Tickets go on sale on Thursday 15th April - we'll have links to buy when on sale.

More information will be here when available.

Friday 11th to Sunday 20th June 2010
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX, England MAP
varies dependant on event from around £12 to £30
last updated: Thu 6th May 2010

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