15 Jun 2018 - 24 Jun 2018

Robert Smith curates the UK’s longest-running artist-curated music festival in its 25th year. Smith is the lead singer and principal songwriter of The Cure, and its only constant member since the group formed in 1978.

One of popular music’s defining bands, The Cure took the ‘alternative rock’ genre mainstream around the world and garnered numerous awards including a Brit Award for Best British Band, an MTV Icon Award, a Q Inspiration Award and NME’s Godlike Genius Award. Smith has also been presented with an Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement.

 

An iconic figure in his own right, Smith’s influence reaches across popular culture, film, art, and fashion.

His many collaborations include performing and recording with artists as varied as David Bowie, Billy Corgan, Blink 182, The Stranglers, Placebo, Crystal Castles, Faithless, Korn and 65daysofstatic.

Meltdown is one of the UK’s most anticipated music events each year, in which an iconic artist curates their own personal festival, revealing their interests and influences. Robert Smith follows in the footsteps of such legendary curators as Patti Smith, Nick Cave, Yoko Ono, Massive Attack, Ornette Coleman and 2017’s M.I.A.

I have finally figured out my Meltdown festival psychedelic puzzle… and it really is just like heaven… 10 delirious June days at London’s Southbank Centre await!
Robert Smith

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FAQ
Can I buy a festival ticket for all events?

No, each show is individually ticketed.

How many tickets can I buy for each event?

You can buy up to four tickets per gig with the exception of Robert Smith's event CURÆTION-25 where you will only be able to buy two. If you have Dual Membership, each named Member can buy four tickets each to events, again with the exception of Robert Smith's event CURÆTION-25 where you will only be able to buy two per person.

Is the time on the ticket when the gig actually starts?

Yes, the gig actually starts at the stated time on the ticket. We publish the stage times onto the event page on the day, so check back then for the most up-to-date information.

Are there any more events to be announced?

All the paid for events have now been announced, we will be announcing some free events in May.

What is Southbank Centre’s ticket resale policy?

It is against Southbank Centre’s terms and conditions to resell tickets above face value. We will cancel any tickets found on sale without our authorisation. If you have tickets you wish to return, please get in touch with our Ticket Desk.

I have a disability, can I come to Meltdown?

Yes, Southbank Centre is fully accessible – find out more about how we support our patrons’ access needs.

 

facilities & access

I'm under 18. Can I come to Meltdown?

Meltdown is open to everyone, however some of our events are recommended for ages 16+ with any under-18s to be accompanied by an adult, and our Concrete Lates events are for 18+ only. Please check the Need to Know section in the event you’re interested in, to see what the age policy is for the event.

Most of the paid shows are seated, does this mean I have to sit through the whole show?

Definitely not. We’ve had Jon Hopkins, Soulwax, Booka Shade, Underworld and Outlook Orchestra (to name a few) play in our venues, and we would never try to keep you seated. Watch General Levy’s performance from January 2017.

 

General Levy gets the crowd going

What are the seating capacities of your venues?

Royal Festival Hall: 2,546 seats 
Queen Elizabeth Hall: 916 seats 
Purcell Room: 293 seats

Are The Cure or Robert Smith playing?

Robert Smith closes the 25th Meltdown festival with an exclusive two-hour show called CURÆTION-25 on Sunday 24 June.

Who do I contact if I'm having trouble buying tickets?

We will be able to respond to you faster by phone than email, please call us on 020 3879 9555.

Purchasing tickets as a Member
Am I guaranteed tickets as a Member?

Members enjoy priority booking, which means that when tickets go on sale, only Members can book for the first three days (13, 14 and 15 April). Being a Member is the best chance of securing tickets for the gigs of your choice.

How many tickets can I buy?

For a dual Membership, each named Member can buy up to four tickets per gig, with the exception of Robert Smith's event CURÆTION-25 where you will only be able to buy two. This means that a total of eight tickets can be booked by both Members on a dual Membership for each concert, again, with the exception of Robert Smith's event CURÆTION-25 where the total number of tickets will be four.

If I buy a dual Membership, can we get more tickets?

For a dual Membership, each named Member can buy up to four tickets per gig. This means that a total of eight tickets can be booked by both Members on a dual Membership for each concert.

Can I buy tickets for more than one performance?

As long as there is availability, you can buy for as many gigs as you like. You have 20 minutes to complete your purchase, starting from the moment you add something to your basket.

First held in 1993, Meltdown has grown to become one of the uk’s most anticipated annual music events. Each year we welcome an iconic artist to Southbank Centre to curate their own personal festival; showcasing their interests and influences on our stages.

In its early incarnations Meltdown followed a more contemporary classical path, with composers George Benjamin, Louis Andriessen and Magnus Lindberg among the festival’s curators in its formative years. Elvis Costello’s Meltdown in 1995 - the festival’s third edition - had offered a slight departure from this, not least in the inclusion on the bill of Jeff Buckley in what would sadly prove to be his final UK show.

I was amazed when he did Meltdown. I asked him what he wanted to sing and he said he'd like to do one of Mahler's Kindertotenlieder in the original German! Absolutely f***ing fearless. He was convinced he could sing it without rehearsal, just because he liked it.
Elvis Costello on Jeff Buckley

It was in 1998, under the curation of the late John Peel, when the festival took a marked shift in direction; its spotlight moving onto a mix of contemporary and cult indie acts, ranging from Cornershop and Gorkys Zygotic Mynci to Sonic Youth and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Now firmly established on the music scene Meltdown continued to entice huge names onto its curatorial role of honour, as it slid into the new millennium. Nick Cave, Robert Wyatt and Scott Walker all took the helm, before the tenth anniversary of the festival brought us David Bowie’s Meltdown in 2002.

The festival has become famed for offering exclusive collaborations and intimate, once-in-a-lifetime musical experiences. In 2004 it was the venue for the New York Dolls reunion gig; the group coming back together for Morrisey’s Meltdown. And in 2007 our Royal Festival Hall stage bore an all-star line up including Nick Cave, Grace Jones and Pete Doherty sign Disney songs with curator Jarvis Cocker.

From Massive Attack to M.I.A., Yoko Ono, to the sadly departed Ornette Coleman, the past decade has seen Meltdown continue to live up to its own high reputation, with legendary and seminal artists delivering programmes packed with incredibly diverse gigs and performances.

In 2018, Meltdown celebrates its 25th year with the enigmatic Robert Smith in the curator’s chair - you’d be wise not to miss it.

1993 George Benjamin

English classical composer and pianist George Benjamin was Meltdown’s first ever curator. His 1993 festival brought together leading classical talent including performances from The London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Modern.

1994 Louis Andriessen

For Meltdown’s second edition, the festival went dutch at the hands of composer and pianist Louis Andriessen. Among a great array of classical talent to take to our various stages were Philip Glass, The Steve Martland Band, Gavin Bryars and Dutch chamber orchestra Asko Ensemble.

 

Elvis Costello

1995 Elvis Costello

The festival took a slightly more contemporary direction for its third edition. Curator Elvis Costello fused classical, jazz, folk and pop with the aid of Brodsky Quartet, Bill Frisell Trio, June Tabor, Steve Nieve, and, in what would sadly prove to be his last UK appearance, Jeff Buckley.

Magnus Lindberg

1996 Magnus Lindberg

For the fourth edition of Meltdown the festival returned to its classical roots as Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg took the helm. Lindberg brought sounds from his native Finland to Southbank Centre, courtesy of Varttina and rock band Leningrad Cowboys, as well as branching into film and score with a screening of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

1997 Laurie Anderson

For the fifth Meltdown festival the reigns were handed to American avant-garde artist, musician and film director Laurie Anderson. Delivering the most contemporary edition of the festival to date Anderson’s broad bill included Lou Read, Arto Lindsay, Ken Nordine and DJ Scanner.

1998 John Peel

Respected DJ John Peel became the first non-musician to take the helm of Meltdown, and duly led the sixth edition of the festival down a very different path. Among the contemporary acts to play the festival were Cornershop, Damon Albarn, Sonic Youth and Spiritualized with Peel’s Meltdown also including comedy from Ardal O’Hanlon and Jeremy Hardy.

1999 Nick Cave

For the seventh Meltdown, we welcomed multi-talented Australian musician Nick Cave to Southbank Centre. Like Peel, Cave delivered a much more contemporary Meltdown, with an eclectic bill that ranged from Barry Humphries to Nina Simone, via Faust, Gary Lucas and the photography of Polly Borland.

2000 Scott Walker

Distinctive in style and musical progression - from pop star to avant-garde musician - British-American singer-songwriter Scott Walker oversaw the eighth edition of Meltdown. Walker’s transatlantic festival card included Blur, Jarvis Cocker, Radiohead, Elliot Smith and Smog as well as film from Swiss director Luc Bondy.

2001 Robert Wyatt

As Meltdown moved into the 21st Century now firmly established as a largely contemporary music festival, musician Robert Wyatt was called upon to curate its ninth edition. Wyatt’s cross-generational bill included Dave Gilmour and Julie Tippetts, Elvis Costello and Wayne Horvitz, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Tricky

 

David Bowie

2002 David Bowie

No-one was likely to turn down an invitation to appear at David Bowie’s Meltdown, leading to an impressively big hitting guitar-band heavy bill for the tenth edition of the festival. Coldplay, Badly Drawn Boy, Gonzales, Peaches, Suede, Supergrass, Television, The Polyphonic Spree, The Divine Comedy, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were among many to rock our stages.

2003 Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

Jamaican producer and pioneer of dub, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry headed up Meltdown’s 11th incarnation. Perry’s Meltdown included a cross-Atlantic mix with New York alt rock from Fun Lovin’ Criminals, British indie from The Bees, Chicago synthesiser jazz from Sun Ra and British-Asian dancehall and ragga from Asian Dub Foundation.

2004 Morrissey

A mix of thoughtful, edgy and toe-tapping; Morrissey’s Meltdown was very much in the spirit of the man himself. From readings by Alan Bennett, to a soulful performance from Nancy Sinatra; the London Sinfonietta playing Henryk Górecki and Arvo Pärt to fractious contemporary indie courtesy of The Ordinary Boys and The Libertines, the 12th edition of the festival painted broad strokes.

2005 Patti Smith

Singer songwriter and poet Patti Smith delivered a wide-ranging 13th Meltdown, which included two future curators - Anthony and the Johnsons and Yoko Ono - on the bill. The incredible array of solo performing talent included Beth Orton, Sinead O’Connor, Billy Bragg, Jeff Beck, John Cale and Martha Wainwright, complimented with poetry from Lemn Sissay.

 

Jarvis Cocker

2007 Jarvis Cocker

After a year’s break for refurbishment of Royal Festival Hall, Meltdown returned with Jarvis Cocker at the helm for the 14th edition. The Pulp frontman brought a heavy hitting line-up that included The Jesus and Mary Chain, Motorhead, and Iggy & The Stooges as well as the film scores of John Barry, and library musicians KPM Allstars.

2008 Massive Attack

Bristolian trip-hop superstars Massive Attack ran the show for the 15th Meltdown; serving up a riotous mix of old school - Grace Jones, Gang of Four and Stiff Little Fingers - and huge contemporary names, including Elbow, Fleet Foxes and Aloe Blacc.

2009 Ornette Coleman

As curator of the 16th Meltdown Ornette Coleman brought both past and future curators together, with Patti Smith (2005) and Robert Wyatt (2001) on a bill that also included Yoko Ono (2013) and the plastic Ono Band. Offering one of Meltdown’s most eclectic line-ups, the celebrated jazz saxophonist also gave us Moby, Bobby McFerrin and Morocco’s Master Musicians of Jajouka.

2010 Richard Thompson

Folk-rock singer, songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson OBE was the curator for the 17th Meltdown, returning to the venue where he’d seen his first ever concert back in 1961. The former Fairport Convention guitarist delivered a stellar festival line-up that included Seasick Steve, Duckworth Lewis Method, Loudon Wainwright III, and past curator Elvis Costello.

 

Ray Davies performing at Meltdown Festival
Ray Davies performing at Meltdown 2011

2011 Ray Davies

‘My wish for Meltdown 2011 is that it will be a creative celebration through the decades. A bridge between past, present and future,’ said Ray Davies, as he took control of the 18th edition of Meltdown festival. As well as music from Madness, John Otway, Nick Lowe, and Yo La Tengo, the former Kinks frontman delivered poets John Cooper-Clarke and Roger McGough as well as former Python funnymen Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

2012 Anohni

Then still known as Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, Anohni said she wanted to explore the environment, spirituality and gender politics through her curation of the 19th Meltdown. The resulting bill included, amongst others, Lou Reed, Boy George, Marc Almond and Buffy Saint-Marie, plus a past curator in Laurie Anderson.

 

Yoko Ono performing at Meltdown
Yoko Ono performing at Meltdown 2013

2013 Yoko Ono

‘Deeply honoured’ was Yoko Ono’s reaction to being invited to curate the 20th Meltdown. The musician, artist, author and activist had appeared at two previous incarnations of the festival - in 2005 and 2009 - and told press that she wasn’t ‘pursuing big names for the sake of big names,’ but despite this, her Meltdown still featured Siouxsie Sioux, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Reggie Watts, Earl Slick and Patti Smith. find out more

2014 James Lavelle

Musical and artistic innovator James Lavelle, whose genre-defying portfolio spans music, art, fashion, design and film, not to mention acclaimed musical collaborations, held the reigns for the 21st Meltdown. Lavelle’s incredible bill included singing superstars Chrissy Hynde, Neneh Cherry, Edwyn Collins and Josh Homme as well as turntable titans Polar Bear, Grandmaster Flash and Scratch Perverts. find out more

 

David Byrne performing on stage during David Byrne's Meltdown at the Southbank Centre
David Byrne performing at Meltdown 2015

2015 David Byrne

Co-founder of the seminal new-wave band Talking Heads, and Oscar, Golden Globe and Obie award-winning musician David Byrne took over the 22nd Meltdown. Known for his eclectic collaborations Byrne didn’t disappoint at Meltdown, with a varied bill including Anna Calvi, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Estrelle Morente, John Luther Adams and Atomic Bomb celebrating the music of WIlliam Onyeabor. find out more

Guy Garvey performing at Meltdown 2016

2016 Guy Garvey

The lead singer of the multi-award winning Elbow, 6Music DJ and established solo artist Guy Garvey was at the helm for our 23rd Meltdown. ‘I want my Meltdown to be a party where everyone feels invited and everyone leaves having had the best night out,’ said Garvey ahead of his festival. That ‘night out’ included performances from Richard Hawley, Femi Kuti, Laura Marling and the return of Lift to Experience. find out more

M.I.A. bringing Meltdown 2017 to a close

2017 M.I.A.

Rapper, producer, director and visual artist M.I.A. curated the 24th Meltdown, promising ‘to bring together music’s best forward thinkers’, adding ‘when music acts as inspiration, it’s boundary-less’. Her festival certainly fitted that ethos, bringing grime from London and Paris in the form of Giggs and MHD to the Royal Festival Hall, as well as acclaimed acts Young Fathers, Soulwax, Chrystal Castles and the upcoming stars Yung Lean and Princess Nokia. find out more

meltdown stories

story
Find out who the artists of 2018’s Meltdown would put on their festival bill
story
Enjoy this atmospheric twelve track Spotify playlist from the hypnotic, electronic Italian band

past meltdown festivals

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