festival

Grace Jones' Meltdown

JUN 2021

We have rescheduled Grace Jones’ Meltdown

We’re sad to say that the festival will not take place this year here at the Southbank Centre. As you may know, we’re currently closed due to the coronavirus crisis.

To play our part in stopping the spread of the virus, we have cancelled or postponed many events and festivals, including Meltdown.

However, we’re really pleased to let you know that we have rescheduled this year’s Meltdown for June 2021. We’ll announce exact dates as soon as possible. We hope to see you there. 

Here’s more information about the festival.

Music, film and fashion icon Grace Jones curates Meltdown 2021, the 27th edition of the UK’s longest-running artist-curated music festival. For her line-up, Jones brings together artists from across the globe, including Solange, Peaches, Skunk Anansie, Jimmy Cliff and Baaba Maal.

One of the most recognised figures of contemporary culture, Jones has had an enduring influence on countless artists from Björk to Lady Gaga with her attitude of fierce individuality and fearless self-expression. She continues to perform globally, captivating audiences with her musicianship, extravagant outfits and wild performances.

Taking the world by storm as one of the first black supermodels in the early 1970s, she went on to release a string of acclaimed albums including Warm Leatherette, Nightclubbing and Slave to the Rhythm. Her bold, androgynous image has made her a muse to artists and designers including Issey Miyake, Thierry Mugler and Andy Warhol.

Regretfully my Meltdown festival this year must be rescheduled to June 2021 due to the coronavirus. I am gravely disappointed, but also delighted to be working with the amazing Southbank Centre team who have been able to successfully move the festival dates, along with all of our incredible line-up. Stay safe, stay home and see you next year!
Grace Jones

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all events

Lee 'Scratch' Perry, singer and producer
7:30 pm
Fri 11 Jun 2021
7:30 pm | Fri 11 Jun 2021
gigs
folk & world
The reggae pioneer’s killer rhythms recall African roots while reaching for the vastness of outer space
The reggae pioneer’s killer rhythms recall African roots while reaching for the vastness of outer...
Solange, singer-songwriter
7:30 pm
Fri 11 Jun 2021
7:30 pm | Fri 11 Jun 2021
gigs
pop
Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and visual artist Solange Knowles performs as part of Meltdown
Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and visual artist Solange Knowles performs as part of...
Peaches, musician
7:30 pm
Sat 12 Jun 2021
7:30 pm | Sat 12 Jun 2021
gigs
rock & alternative
The legendary feminist pop icon makes a triumphant return to Royal Festival Hall with an explosive show
The legendary feminist pop icon makes a triumphant return to Royal Festival Hall with an explosive...
Jimmy Cliff, musician
7:30 pm
Sun 13 Jun 2021
7:30 pm | Sun 13 Jun 2021
gigs
folk & world
Be here for a one-off show from the musician behind immortal anthems including 'The Harder They Come'
Be here for a one-off show from the musician behind immortal anthems including 'The Harder They...
The Love Unlimited Synth Orchestra performing on stage
7:30 pm
Wed 16 Jun 2021
7:30 pm | Wed 16 Jun 2021
gigs
pop
Pay tribute to Barry White at a live show with Charles Hazlewood and the British Paraorchestra
Pay tribute to Barry White at a live show with Charles Hazlewood and the British Paraorchestra
Oumou Sangaré, singer
7:30 pm
Wed 16 Jun 2021
7:30 pm | Wed 16 Jun 2021
gigs
folk & world
The Songbird of Wassoulou draws upon a rich musical heritage at the same time as looking to the future
The Songbird of Wassoulou draws upon a rich musical heritage at the same time as looking to the...
Skunk Anansie, rock band
7:30 pm
Thu 17 Jun 2021
7:30 pm | Thu 17 Jun 2021
gigs
rock & alternative
The band that delivered a shot of adrenaline to London's 1994 music scene is as radical as ever
The band that delivered a shot of adrenaline to London's 1994 music scene is as radical as ever
Sold out
Meshell Ndegeocello, singer-songwriter
7:30 pm
Thu 17 Jun 2021
7:30 pm | Thu 17 Jun 2021
gigs
jazz & blues
Mercurial and masterful, the musical original and neo-soul pioneer leads us to expect the unexpected
Mercurial and masterful, the musical original and neo-soul pioneer leads us to expect the unexpected
Baaba Maal, musician
7:30 pm
Sat 19 Jun 2021
7:30 pm | Sat 19 Jun 2021
gigs
folk & world
Blending African roots and contemporary influences, the singer and guitarist is a born musical traveller
Blending African roots and contemporary influences, the singer and guitarist is a born musical...
Lee Field, singer
7:30 pm
Sat 19 Jun 2021
7:30 pm | Sat 19 Jun 2021
gigs
jazz & blues
Soul music has poured from this living legend since his early days on North Carolina juke joint stages
Soul music has poured from this living legend since his early days on North Carolina juke joint...

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all stories

In 2008 Massive Attack became the first band to curate the iconic festival
Relive Patti Smith’s 2005 Meltdown with tracks from the festival’s acts
Come with us back to the summer of 2002
Get a look behind the scenes with rare footage from past Meltdown festivals
Enjoy tracks from Meltdown festival’s past curators
Get ready for Grace Jones’ Meltdown with this special Spotify playlist
The iconic star of music and fashion is named curator of the festival’s 27the edition
Listen to a Spotify playlist of the music of the Meltdown festival curator
Relive the festival through the lens of photographers and gig goers
Nile Rodgers talks about his Meltdown festival in this exclusive video
The legendary singer and guitarist talks Chic, Nile Rodgers and Royal Festival Hall
Watch Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson talk about performing at the festival
Watch the American musician and producer in this video
Watch a short video interview with the artist and hear a playlist of his work
A look at the remarkable journey of South African singer Nakhane
We get to know the Queen of Brazilian pop
The artists behind Stranger Things remarkable score, look ahead to their Meltdown gig in this interview
The amazing story behind one of the most iconic disco anthems
A Spotify playlist to help you relive the CHIC-est of Meltdowns
Enjoy this Spotify Playlist of tracks featuring samples from Nile Rodgers’ music

Pages

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 two tickets for Grace Jones and up to four tickets for other Meltdown gigs.

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 via Twitter on the day, so check back then for the most up-to-date information.

 

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What is Southbank Centre’s ticket resale policy?

Southbank Centre takes a strong view on secondary ticketing. We require the lead booker to attend (photo ID may be requested). Tickets can only be resold by Southbank Centre or one of its authorised agents.

I have a disability, can I come to Meltdown?

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

 

access & facilities

I'm under 18, can I come to Meltdown?

Meltdown is open to everyone, however some of our events have age recommendations and restrictions. Please check the Need to Know section in the event you’re interested in to see if there is an age policy.

Most of the 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

What are the seating capacities of your venues?

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

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 on 12 February, only Southbank Centre Members can book them two days before the general on sale on 14 February. Being a Member gives you the first chance to secure tickets for the gigs you want to go to.

How many tickets can I buy?

During the priority booking period every Member can purchase up to two tickets for Grace Jones and up to four tickets for other Meltdown gigs. As many of the events in this year's Meltdown festival are likely to be very popular, we want to help ensure as many Members as possible secure a ticket.

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 singing 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 2019, Meltdown celebrated its 26th year with Nile Rodgers in the curator’s chair.

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.

 

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.

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 Reed, 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

 

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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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, Crystal Castles and the upcoming stars Yung Lean and Princess Nokia. find out more

Robert Smith performs with CUREATION-25 at Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall as part of Meltdown 2018

2018 Robert Smith

Lead singer and principal songwriter of one of popular music’s defining bands, The Cure, was at the helm for the 25th return of Meltdown. His ‘psychedelic puzzle’ of a line-up included rock heavyweights Nine Inch Nails, My Bloody Valentine and Placebo, as well as a rare performance from the Libertines. find out more

2019 Nile Rodgers

Producer, musician and sonic trendsetter Nile Rodgers curated the 26th Meltdown – packed full of exclusive collaborations, one-offs and unmissable nights. We submit to the surreal genius of bassist Thundercat, rocked out to the legendary guitarist Johnny Marr, heard blistering rock from Songhoy Blues and bathed in the lazing rhythms of neo-soul collective Jungle.
find out more

from the blog

story
See who’s on the bill for the festival, now rescheduled to June 2021
story
Get ready for Grace Jones’ Meltdown with this special Spotify playlist
story
Listen to a Spotify playlist of the music of the Meltdown festival curator

past meltdown festivals