No matter how many times you YouTube your favorite artist or hit play on that MP3, nothing compares to the rush of seeing live music. Onstage is where an artist really shows his or her true essence — does she prefer high drama? Is he a good dancer? Is she boring between hits? See for yourself this spring, when a number of tours launch across the U.K. Here are three top picks for national outings starting this month.
While 27-year-old Londoner Jamie Woon released his first proper record, the EP Wayfaring Stranger, back in 2007, he didn’t achieve pop velocity until last year, thanks to his single “Night Air.” It was a moody, dubby, techno-inflected track married with soulful vocals and thoughtful lyrics. Clocking in at a relatively long five-plus minutes, the track ensnared listeners without obvious hooks or studio trickery.
The sound of that breakout hit is rather mellow, though, so Woon’s upcoming tour through the UK will be his chance to air out possibly more high-energy fare from his upcoming studio album debut, Moonwriting, due out in April. The tour begins 2 February at the Jericho in Oxford, playing some 11 dates and ending in Nottingham on 4 March. Visit jamiewoon.com for full details.
NME Awards Tour
In the recent past, the weekly new music bible’s annual awards tour has helped launch the careers of massive stars like Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, and Florence and the Machine. So the performers selected to join this year should feel lucky indeed — though electro-pop noisemakers Crystal Castles, from Canada, are already festival favorites and probably need little introduction. Also on the electronic side of things for this tour is supergroup Magnetic Man, the new project of dubstep producers Benga, Skream, and Artwork. Rounding out the lineup are Manchester art-rockers Everything Everything, as well as Londoners the Vaccines, who at times seem more than a little influenced by the Strokes’ droning jangle-rock.
The tour launches on 3 February at the O2 Academy in Glasgow, and ends on 19 February at the O2 Academy Brixton in London. Visit www.nme.com/tickets/artist/nme-awards-tour-2011 to purchase tickets.
Benjamin Paul Ballance-Drew, the multitalented entertainer known as Plan B, has proved himself to be an artistic chameleon since the mid-’00s. His first album, the 2006 effort Who Needs Actions When You Got Words, showed him to be, at the time, a more or less straightforward, though creative, hip-hop artist. In the ensuing years, though, he’s proven himself an equally able film actor and even director. And then came his sophomore record in 2001, The Defamation of Strickland Banks, which ditched the rap in favor of soulful crooning. So what turn will he take on his next album, due out later this year? No doubt his upcoming tour should give some clues. It begins 28 February at the Olympia in Dublin, and ends 10 March at the O2 Arena in London. Visit time4planb.co.uk for full details.