February. Christmas is a distant memory, but it’s not quite time to ditch the big coat and let’s not even talk about the storms. The month also brought us an extra day due to the leap year and it kickstarted touring season with a bang. Here’s some of the hottest shows that hit our venues over the past four weeks.
O2 Academy Brixton | Wednesday 12 February
The NME Awards returned for 2020 and they pulled out all the stops to make sure it was a night to remember. Hosted by Katherine Ryan and Julie Adenuga, the awards featured live performances from AJ Tracey, FKA Twigs and The 1975, whilst Foals, Yungblud, Clairo and Taylor Swift all took home the infamous middle finger trophies. Yep, that’s right, Taylor Swift rocked up to O2 Academy Brixton. We’re still pinching ourselves too.
Oh, and slowthai was also there...
Various Venues | 2 - 15 February
One of the true pioneers of grime graced our stages throughout February, in support of his sixth studio album, Hoodies All Summer. This was far bigger than your regular grime show, though. Bringing an orchestra, choir and brass band on the road with him, it amplified each song, taking the entire performance to new heights. With a setlist that spanned across his 20-year career, it was a powerful reminder of just how much Kano has done for the scene in his time and he’s certainly not stopping anytime soon. To make it just that bit better though, during his show at O2 Victoria Warehouse he brought out special guests, D Double E, Ghetts and Giggs. Safe to say that everyone’s minds were considerably blown.
O2 Academy Oxford | Friday 14 February
It was a double celebration at O2 Academy Oxford this month, as IRL couple and dreamy pop duo, Oh Wonder, took to the stage on Valentine’s Day to not only celebrate their love, but also the release of their third studio album, No One Else Can Wear Your Crown. Bouncing with the excitement of it all, the duo worked their way through a setlist of brand-new bangers and favourites from across their catalogue, as they soaked up the intimate atmosphere and warmed everyone’s hearts with their adoration for each other.
O2 Academy Islington | Tuesday 11 February
Making a pit stop at O2 Academy Islington for the only UK date of her tour, it took a matter of seconds for Noah Cyrus to sell out the venue’s main room and her fans were even more eager to see her in the flesh. After hours of waiting, the doors opened and the room filled up in a flash, excitement and anticipation buzzing around the crowd awaiting the youngest Cyrus to hit the scene.
Kicking things off with singles, ‘f**kyounoah’ and ‘Live Or Die’, the reaction from the crowd was explosive, with volume increasing at an alarming rate, accelerating when Noah dropped covers of Tones and I’s number one hit, ‘Dance Monkey’ and Labrinth’s ‘Mount Everest’. Despite not yet having an album in her repertoire, Noah packed her set full of gems, including recent single ‘July’ and never before heard track, ‘Got So High’, offering up a taste of what’s still to come from the burgeoning popstar.
O2 Academy Newcastle | 17 + 19 February
Despite having the worst run of luck with his health, the toon’s new guitar hero, Sam Fender, managed to put on an almighty double header for his hometown and made a mark in Newcastle’s music history forevermore.
Performing a strong selection of tracks from his number one album, Hypersonic Missiles, surrounded by his magnificent backing band (and notably, a saxophone player), they put on a stunning performance of old-school rock and blues made for the modern age. Since his exposure to the mainstream, accolades have come in thick and fast for Fender’s work, but not even he could have predicted a phone call from Elton John mid-set. Yes, that is an actual thing that happened on night two. Phone calls from celebs aside, these shows were a shining moment for Sam Fender’s career and as he wrapped things up with a cover of ‘Dancing In The Dark’ - a tribute to his hero, Bruce Springsteen, it was evidently clear that he’s well on his way to becoming an icon himself.
Various Venues | 5 - 12 February
February also brought the riotous return of glam metal heroes, Steel Panther, who donned their best lycra for a stint across the nation. With their hair hairsprayed to perfection, they set about rocking the socks off everyone in attendance, delivering riff upon riff from last year’s full-length, Heavy Metal Rules, as well as an abundance of hits from their unforgettable career thus far. Naturally, there were innuendoes aplenty each night, but then what do you expect from a band who’s most popular song is called ‘Gloryhole’? Stage invasions were welcomed, with many getting up to dance alongside the tight trouser-wearing quartet and night after night, the band delivered a gloriously outrageous performance that’ll certainly leave their fans with memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Various Venues | 2 - 12 February
West Coast rapper, The Game, made his return to the UK after his short stint here last summer and he continued to prove why he’s still one of the most revered rappers in the industry. Alongside covers of Dre and 2Pac, the 18-track set threw us back to the golden days of the noughties with ‘How We Do’ and finale ‘Hate It Or Love It’, whilst the newer offerings from last year’s album, Born 2 Rap showed that The Game is still more than capable of writing classics. Wrapping things up with an emotional tribute to the recently passed Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, it was a heart-warming end to another phenomenal show from The Game.
Various Venues | 1 - 11 February
February was a big month for Mabel. Not only did she pick up a BRIT Award for Best British Female Solo Artist, but she also wrapped up her biggest headline tour to date. Her debut album, High Expectations, provided some of the biggest R&B anthems of 2019 and the girl power was in no short supply at these shows. Fierce as ever, she strutted her way through album favourites, ‘Mad Love’ and ‘Boyfriend’ whilst throwing in her Not3s collaboration ‘My Lover’ and Jax Jones smash, ‘Ring Ring’ for a little extra party. Joined on stage by an army of dancers, (who delivered a sensational routine to Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’ during the set) Mabel and her gang pulled out all the stops for a finale of ‘Don’t Call Me Up’, leaving us, and everyone in the audience, feeling more empowered than ever before.
O2 Forum Kentish Town | Saturday 1 February
One of the UK’s most treasured rock bands, The Wildhearts, made a long overdue, welcome return to O2 Forum Kentish Town this month and boy did they come back with a vengeance. Taking to the stage to blast through a stompin’ version of crowd favourite, ‘Everlone’, they had the crowd eating out the palm of their hands from the first guitar chord. Powering through a set of classics and choice cuts from new album, Renaissance Men, the room was alight with pure rock glory, but it was the likes of, ‘Vanilla Radio’, ‘Diagnosis’ and ‘TV Tan’ that raised the bar and provided the loudest sing-a-longs of the night. More than anything, The Wildhearts looked and sounded like a band triumphantly reborn, so we say welcome back fellas, it’s nice to have you!
O2 Academy Brixton | Saturday 22 February
O2 Academy Brixton played host to a night of nu jazz fusion, spectacular soundscapes and live orchestrated projections as Cinematic Orchestra, together with the Heritage Orchestra, carried the audience into the unknown. Having returned last year with To Believe, their first album in 12 years, expectations were high with the promise of a brand-new visual show to accompany the new material.
A complete to-scale model of the famous O2 Academy Brixton balcony arch donned one side of the stage as live projections danced around the screens, captivating the audience and pulling them into the world of The Cinematic Orchestra. A completely unique experience, this was jazz for all the senses and stands as one of the most impressive displays we could see all year.
The NME Awards wasn’t the only award ceremony in February, with the BRIT Awards making its return once again for its 40th anniversary. The red carpet was rolled out for a star-studded line-up and we watched as Lewis Capaldi, Dave, Mabel and many more collected their awards. If you want to re-live the night or listen back to the nominees, check out our playlist below:
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