Gigs of the year 2019

As we draw in to close 2019, we look back on some of the highlights of our jam-packed programme of live music, dance and entertainment.

From k.d lang to New Order, to Tank and the Bangas and Erland Cooper, to Puzzle Creature’s immersive dance performance, to the Bristol Takeover – showcasing the finest homegrown talent from the city we call home.

We love hearing everyone’s gig experiences, whether it makes you laugh or cry, drop us a message on Twitter @Colston_Hall or Instagram @colstonhall.

Read on for a monthly breakdown of some of our favourite performances from across the city, we look forward to seeing you again in 2020!


The year began with a bang-of-the-drum, courtesy of a sold-out Richard Spaven show at Rough Trade, part of the Colston Hall Presents series.

January also saw the start of Independent Venue Week and Music Venue Trust’s Fightback campaign, in support of the UK’s grassroots music venues, ensuring they can survive and thrive around the country.

We programmed two brilliant sold-out shows as part of this campaign, York’s indie 4-piece The Howl and The Hum, and legendary Alabama singer-songwriter John Paul White, both at The Louisiana.

The Howl and The Hum photographed by Paul Lippiatt


Finally over the long January hump, we had plenty of live music on offer throughout February for fans of all genres. Some of the Colston Hall staff highlights include The Dead South, Poppy Ackroyd, Kathryn Joseph and Angelo De Augustine.

The Dead South photographed by Dominika Scheinbinger


As we entered spring equinox, we welcomed Tank and The Bangas’ explosive performance at SWX.

“There was a sincerity about the way they interacted on stage that showed in the jazzy freshness of the music and their frequent laughter.” – Tony Benjamin, Bristol 24/7

Tank and The Bangas photographed by Dominka Scheinbinger.

Other stand out performances during this period include Swindle, Nubiyan twist and Bristol 24/7’s ‘Best of Bristol 2019’ show, Ibibio Sound Machine.

“Their infectious afro-funk backbeat made it impossible not to groove along to” – Amy Grace, Bristol 24/7

Swindle photographed by ShotAway


The Bristol Takeover 2019, saw the very best of local talent take centre spotlight including stages curated by BIMM, Rough Trade, Bristol In Stereo, Saffron Records and our very own house party with DJs from Minirigs. We also witnessed the second crop of Multi-Track’s Home-Grown Heat artists making their Colston Hall debuts, just as they began their bespoke package of support for emerging underground artists provided by our talent development programme, Multi-Track.

Sun Ra Arkestra’s energetic jazz performance at Fiddlers soundtracked the April heatwave, whilst Echo Collective’s rendition of Amnesiac by Radiohead brought calm to the Colston Hall Foyer one Sunday evening.

“We leave Fiddlers back into the evening heat feeling even more uplifted than their last time here” – Elfyn Griffith, Louder Than War

Film by Mechanical Mouse


The Nude Party stay fully clothed during their performance at (the recently closed down) Hy-Brasil, but that didn’t stop them from blowing the clothes off the audience! (Metaphorically…we think.)

On Fri 3 May we threw open our doors to Bristol’s most talented and diverse musicians and artists to celebrate our city’s creativity at Bristol Got Soul. Our foyer spaces were filled with music, dance, poetry and spoken word from some of the most exciting artists our city has to offer.

This event marked the start of the Hall’s renewed commitment to being a Hall for all; a place for Bristolians to meet, eat, rehearse and perform. And we’re so glad you all came down to enjoy the music.

Photography by ShotAway


We’ve been fans of Yola for a while. First programming her in The Lantern in 2015, then in River Town 2017 and most recently in June 2019 at Fiddlers as part of our Colston Hall Presents programme. Hailing from Bristol, Yola’s success has sky-rocketed here, Stateside and beyond, and has bagged four Grammy Award nominations, including Best New Artist! 2020 is sure to have big things in store for this powerful artist.

Earlier in June, we presented our annual summer series celebrating roots and Americana music with River Town 2019. Over six weeks we brought to you the hottest talent from the U.S. and closer to home, presenting 21 concerts in 11 different music venues across Bristol and Bath (and 1 boat!) for a barnstorming celebration of country, blues, gospel and soul.


Well, this was a pretty busy gig month! We kicking off with the UK’s foremost political singer-songwriter, rabble-rouser and activist Billy Bragg for three nights at Fiddlers where he flipped back through the pages of his songbooks that encompass his 35 year career.

River Town was now in full flow with international stars walking the boards of some of Bristol and Bath’s finest venues including stand out performances from JD McPherson, k.d lang, Keb Mo, Kiefer Sutherland and Lucinda Williams.

But no doubt hitting the top spot of many people’s gigs of the year are New Order and The Specials who performed at Bristol Harbourside Amphitheatre for two spectacular performances.

The 5,000 strong crowd sang along with ska classics ‘Message To You Rudy’, ‘Rat Race’ and ‘Too Much Too Young’ to The Specials and watched with jaws hitting the floor as New Order ran though their iconic back catalogue with ‘She’s Lost Control’, ‘Shadowplay’, ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ before finishing with a magnificently poignant ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’.

“a magnificent, brilliantly conceived and executed, and convincing set which touched on all aspects of New Order’s extraordinary career.”

– Bristol 24/7

View more highlights from New Order at Bristol Harbourside.

View more highlights from The Specials at Bristol Harbourside.

New Order photography by ShotAway. River Town photography by Dominika Scheibinger. The Specials film by Mechanical Mouse.


By now, anyone who is responsible for little people aged between 0 and 7 knows that August means Hoo-Ha! Once again our foyer space was transformed for three jam-packed days of music, dancing, and activities. Highlights this year included Mr. Bloom and his Band, the ever popular Junior Jungle Rave and Bruce Airhead.


After a sold out performance in Bristol back in January 2019, John Paul White returned to Bristol Folk House accompanied by two outstanding musicians to form a trio of Americana peddling masters. With songs that were dripping with Tennessee roots, blues and Americana White sailed the Folk House across the sea and to the deep southern states of the US with his captivating performance.


While our main performance spaces have been closed during out transformation, we’ve been reimagining how we can use our versatile foyer spaces. When dance company Neon Dance approached us to talk about an immersive dance experience called Puzzle Creature, we were hooked from the start. And their beautiful performance was something truly special and transformative.

Puzzle Creature photography by Miles Hart.

Later in October we showcased the amazing young talent that Bristol has to offer and who we’ve been supporting through our artist development programme Home-Grown Heat run by Multi-Track. At a showcase headlined by Novelist, Pariah, Lexus P, Delocx, Kaya and Amelia played individual sets, performing tracks they developed during their time on the Home-Grown Heat scheme.


As the nights draw in, November turns into a bumper month for gig going, and this year we presented nearly a gig a day with our Colston Hall Presents programme, as we travelled to some of Bristol’s best live music venues. Shows included the world music legends Tinariwen at Trinity, indie rock masters Deerhunter with Cate Le Bon at SWX and KOKOKO! at Fiddlers.

One of the most beautiful shows of the year has to be Beverly Glenn-Copeland and his emotive, uplifting and life-affirming performance at St George’s Bristol. Weeks later we’re all still feeling the joy of that unique collective experience.

Beverly Glenn-Copeland photography by Dominika Scheibinger


In December we presented A Place For Everyone; an aural history exhibition where the people of Bristol give voice to their stories of Colston Hall in the form of audio interviews, combined with around 40 specially commissioned illustrations by artist Matthew Booker, which together give fascinating snapshots into the often unique role the Hall has played in people’s lives.

And it wouldn’t be December without a bit of festivity. This passed month we’ve sang songs with older people living in sheltered accommodation and heard the youngest members of our community sing their hearts out at the ever-popular Christmas Concerts presented by Bristol Plays Music.

A Place For Everyone photography by Ania Shrimpton, sheltered accommodation photography by Duncan Smith, BPM Christmas Concert photography by Julian Preece.

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Bristol Beacon

On Wednesday 23 September 2020 Colston Hall changed its name to Bristol Beacon.

Our new name is just the first step, it is about more than the sign above our door. Click below to find out more about how we’re changing, watch our name announcement, and discover how we want everyone to share in the joy of live music.

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