This summer, the BBC is set to captivate music enthusiasts with a spectacular celebration of live music across various platforms, including radio, television, BBC Sounds, and iPlayer. One of the highly anticipated events is the return of BBC Radio 2 In Concert, featuring an exclusive performance by the iconic British band Blur.
Announced by Jo Whiley on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on Monday, 3 July, Blur will take the stage for an intimate performance in front of a select group of Radio 2 listeners at the BBC’s Radio Theatre in New Broadcasting House, London. The concert, which will be attended by Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James, and Dave Rowntree, will take place this July.
Fans can experience the electrifying event live on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds, and catch the visual stream on BBC iPlayer from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, 18 July. Additionally, BBC Two will broadcast the concert, and it will be available on demand on BBC iPlayer at a later date. For those unable to tune in, the concert will be accessible for 30 days after its broadcast on BBC Sounds.
To attend this exclusive performance, fans have the opportunity to register for tickets through a ballot system on the official Radio 2 In Concert website (www.bbc.co.uk/radio2inconcert). The registration period began on the day of the announcement and will close on Sunday, 9 July, at 23:59.
Jo Whiley, the host of Radio 2 In Concert, expressed her excitement about the upcoming event, stating, “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, shared his enthusiasm, emphasising the station’s commitment to delivering live and exclusive music sessions. Smith expressed his delight about Blur’s return to the Radio Theatre for Radio 2 In Concert, where the band will perform a mix of their classic hits and some brand new material. The concert will take place in the iconic and intimate setting of the venue.
Alex James from Blur also expressed his anticipation, stating, “It’s going to be great. We’re going to play a bunch of our favorite stuff, some old and some new.”
This concert marks Blur’s return to Radio 2 after their appearance on Jo Whiley’s show in May, where they unveiled their surprise announcement of the upcoming album, “The Ballad of Darren.” The album, their first in eight years, is set to be released later in July, coinciding with the band’s 35-year anniversary since their formation in 1987.
BBC Radio 2 In Concert featuring Blur builds upon the station’s extensive lineup of live music events throughout the year. On Jo Whiley’s show, she has featured Sofa Sessions from various artists such as Far From Saints, The Teskey Brothers, Ben Howard, The Lathums, Christine & The Queens, Galen & Paul, Ellie Dixon, Fenne Lily, Lissie, and Gabrielle Aplin.
Moreover, Vernon Kay’s new mid-morning show on Radio 2 has presented Piano Room sessions from Def Leppard and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. In February 2023, Radio 2’s Piano Room Month showcased live performances by renowned artists accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra at Maida Vale studios.
Notable performers included Stormzy, P!nk, Sugababes, Suede, Haircut 100, and Jake Shears featuring special guest Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys. Additionally, the eagerly anticipated Radio 2 in the Park event will take place in Leicester on Saturday, 16, and Sunday, 17 September, featuring headline acts Tears for Fears and Kylie, as well as performances by Bananarama, Texas, James Blunt, Deacon Blue, Beverley Knight, Busted, Soft Cell, Pretenders, Shalamar, Rick Astley, Jessie Ware, Lemar, Sam Ryder, and Simply Red.
In conjunction with the concert, BBC Sounds has launched the Blur Artists Icon collection, featuring a variety of programming dedicated to the band. This includes the brand new Radio 2 program “Blur At The BBC,” which will delve into the band’s history through their music and archive interviews. The program will be broadcast on Radio 2 on Sunday, 9 July, from 12 to 1 a.m. Comedian and superfan Josh Widdecombe will host “Blur and Me,” selecting an hour of his favorite Blur tracks.
“For Fans of Blur” will present an hour of music that influenced the band and artists they have inspired. Listeners will also have the opportunity to hear “Blur in conversation” with BBC Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, who conducted an exclusive interview with the band in 2023. Moreover, two live recordings will be available, including “Blur Live In London,” a performance first broadcast on 6 Music from London’s Astoria and Brixton Academy in 1997, and “Blur Live at Peel Acres,” featuring a live performance in the garden of Peel Acres, John Peel’s home, in 1997.
BBC Four and BBC Two will continue to entertain music enthusiasts throughout the summer with their outstanding lineups of live concert programming. BBC Four will dedicate Friday nights to the celebration of live music until 8 September. These themed nights will showcase concert performances from different decades, primarily captured by the BBC. The lineup includes “David Bowie Live at the BBC Radio Theatre” from 2000, featuring an intimate performance filmed shortly after Bowie headlined Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage. The concert, which has not been seen on television since 2012, will be presented by BBC Radio 6 Music’s Chris Hawkins and will include iconic hits like “Let’s Dance,” “Ashes to Ashes,” and “The Man Who Sold The World.”
Other themed nights on BBC Four will include an “80s Synth Night” on Friday, 7 July, featuring archive performances from A-Ha, Tears for Fears, Annie Lennox, and Toyah. “Soul Legends” night on Friday, 14 July, will showcase concerts from Gladys Knight and the Pips, Bill Withers, and Seal, recorded for Radio 2 In Concert in 2015. Ska Night will feature Madness’ 2016 performance at Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park and The Specials’ 2021 session for 6 Music. Additionally, there will be “Country Night” featuring archive performances from Bonnie Raitt and Shania Twain, and “70s Rock Night” with Elkie Brooks’ 1977 performance for Sight and Sound in Concert. R&B Night will include sets from Alicia Keys and Lizzo, while “80 Rock Night” will feature Bon Jovi’s Radio 2 In Concert performance at the BBC Radio Theatre in 2009. The summer lineup on BBC Four will conclude with archive recordings of performances from Paul McCartney, Adele, and Michael Bublé.
BBC Two will also contribute to the celebration of live music with a special Motown tribute in August, showcasing rarely-seen performances from legendary artists such as Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye. Additionally, “Girls Bands Night” in August will include a performance from Girls Aloud at the O2 Arena in 2008. In early September, audiences can enjoy Rihanna’s headline set from BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in 2010, which will be shown for the first time since its original broadcast.
The BBC’s summer music programming follows the release of the groundbreaking music documentary “The Trouble with KanYe.” Against the backdrop of KanYe West’s recent behaviour and rumoured 2024 Presidential campaign, the documentary explores how one of America’s most celebrated artists became associated with hate and division. Award-winning journalist Mobeen Azhar travelled to the United States to investigate this phenomenon. “The Trouble with KanYe” premiered on BBC Two on 28 June and is currently available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
Jonathan Rothery, the BBC Head of Pop Music TV, expressed his excitement for the upcoming summer of music programming, highlighting the diversity of music genres and legendary artists that will be featured. He mentioned the highly anticipated performances by David Bowie, Elton John, and Rihanna, among others, and emphasised the unique opportunity for audiences to relive iconic moments in music history.
With such an impressive lineup of live music events, exclusive performances, and archive recordings, the BBC is set to make this summer an unforgettable celebration of music for audiences across the country. Music enthusiasts and fans of Blur, in particular, have a lot to look forward to with the exclusive performance by the band on BBC Radio 2 In Concert.