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(c) Ambra Vernuccio

The Best Music in London this August

2 August 2017 Will Rathbone

August comes but once a year, and 2017 sees it arrive laden with an eclectic mix of gigs, shows and festivals to entertain the ears of London. Given that the month climaxes with Notting Hill Carnival, there’s a reggae tinge throughout as well as top quality jazz, the continuation of London’s festival season and the BBC Proms. Read on and get booking.

We’ll start with the big-hitting gig of the month. Muse, undoubtedly one of the biggest rock bands in the world, bring their all-conquering brand of alt-rock to the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on August 19 for a special gig to raise money for homeless charity Passage. They have asked fans to curate the set-list for this one, so expect a geared up crowd for one of the finest live acts operating in the arena circuit today.

Elsewhere in the alternative rock/pop world, Conor Oberst also has a date at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on August 18. The Bright Eyes frontman will be debuting tracks from forthcoming LP Ruminations with a full band. Regina Spektor finishes off her UK tour at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith on August 9. The classically trained singer-songwriter performs tracks from seventh album Remember Us To Life in her own distinctive style. C. W. Stoneking is another musician with a unique sound - imagine Tom Waits, if he was born in the Deep South of America at the turn of the twentieth century - and the Australian plays Moth Club on August 6.


Regina Spektor © Shervin Lainez Courtesy of the artist.

There’s no stopping the Grime-wave that’s been dominating the UK music scene for the last year or so. August sees the O2 Arena host an enormous takeover from London grime collective BBK (Boy Better Know) on August 27. There’s a huge roster of artists playing, including A$AP Rocky, Wiley, Skepta, JME, Todd Edwards and Donae’o. Over at the O2 Forum Kentish Town former Odd Future associate turned critically acclaimed rapper Vince Staples is playing on August 30.

For those seeking a night to dance away your troubles to, there’s a number of unusual but totally worth it nights coming your way. The Yard Theatre in Hackney hosts a night of Turkish psychedelia featuring Israeli singer Debora Ipekel and quality selections from Ambassadeurs on August 5, whilst those looking for the freshest sonic vibrations should check out Tokyo Sound Land Part 2 at Archspace on August 4. Japanese beat-makers are pushing the genre in new directions at the moment, and Daisuke Tanabe and Ametsub are leading the way. For soul and house bangers, you can’t beat The 2 Bears, who have a set at Brixton’s Prince of Wales on August 12.

That being said, the only place to head for electronic music this month is Sunfall Festival in Brockwell Park on August 12. The line-up features ace DJ Helena Hauff, groovehound Gilles Peterson and everyone’s favourite sunshine-lover Roy Ayers. While we’re looking at festivals, House of Common comes to Clapham Common on August 28 with a reggae-tinged line-up including Madness, Dawn Penn and DJ David Rodigan and from August 19-20 a stellar line-up of modern jazzers - including Melt Yourself Down, and Mercury-nominated Comet is Coming - take to the stage at Canary Wharf Jazz Festival in Canada Square Park, all for gratis. There's also the International Piano Trio Festival at Ronnie Scott's from August 21 - 26, where you'll catch the incredible Tin Men and the Machine who ask audiences to contribute to the performance using the 'Tinmendo" app. 


Sunfall Festival courtesy of Le Cool London

If it’s jazz you’re after there’s a whole heap more where that came from. Bright young things Nubya Garcia and Alfa Mist perform a double bill at Ronnie Scott’s on August 15, while the UK’s hardest working saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings plays a date at Camden’s Jazz Café on August 17. If one sax player isn’t enough for you, then try out the Jean Toussaint Quartet for size. The American is a major influence for many young sax players, and performs at Vortex Jazz Club on August 18. Back on the younger side of things, STUFF. - who blend electronics with jazz - are playing at Archspace on August 24.

The BBC Proms continue all month at the Royal Albert Hall, with highlights including Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass on August 15, plus the exciting Multi-story Orchestra break away from the confines of Kensington and Chelsea to bring the Proms to Bold Tendencies Multi-story Car Park in Peckham on August 26. An orchestra of a different ilk take to the stage at XOYO on August 31 as the London Astrobeat Orchestra present Talking Heads.


Multi-story Orchestra © Ambra Vernuccio

Finally, you can’t talk about August’s musical offerings with mentioning the all-conquering Notting Hill Carnival. Europe’s biggest street party features the finest sound systems around, and is unmissable for anyone looking for reggae sounds. Our pick of the numerous after-parties goes to Mungo’s Hi-fi After Party at Brixton Jamm on August 27. There’s plenty to warm you into the carnival spirit, with UK legends Steel Pulse teaming up with Bristol’s The Skints at the Indigo O2 on August 9, Norman Jay MBE DJing at Jazz Café on August 18, a huge line-up headlined by Jamaican icons The Twinkle Brothers at the Indigo O2 on August 6 and the uplifting jazz/reggae combinations of Jazz Jamaica at Hideaway Jazz Club on August 5.
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