When Mercury Prize winner Antony Hegarty was announced as director of Meltdown, the line-up was always guaranteed to be intriguing. The annual celebration where distinguished musicians create their own ultimate music and arts festival is one of the most prestigious events at London’s Southbank Centre. Past directors have included Patti Smith, David Bowie, Ray Davies, Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker and John Peel.
This year’s line-up was just released, and there is much to be excited about for the 1-12 August festival. It’s not surprising that there is a heavy New York influence throughout the festivities since the city is British-born Hegarty’s home base. Cabaret performer Joey Arias will sing Billie Holiday songs in a show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall called Strange Fruit, which ran for over a year in the early 1990s in downtown Manhattan. Acclaimed musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson will perform a piece called Dirtday, lending her quirky humour and angelic voice to the proceedings with a collection of songs and stories. Anderson is a former director of Meltdown.
Another theme in Hegarty’s Meltdown is to offer events featuring a wide selection of multidisciplinary artists. Hegarty is a visual artist, in addition to a composer and singer for the band Antony and the Johnsons. American avant-garde vocalist, composer and painter Diamanda Galás will bring her three-and-a-half octave voice to the Royal Festival Hall for a show called The Hour Will Come. The politically charged artist, who has tackled subjects such as AIDS, dementia and genocide, will also screen a film collaboration, Schrei 27, created in partnership with Italian filmmaker Davide Pepe. Based on original compositions and a radio piece by Galás, the challenging film examines a person being tortured in a medical facility. Like most of her work, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Two of the most anticipated performances will come from this side of the pond, however. Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins will make a rare live appearance for two shows on 6 and 7 August that will include new and classic songs. Marc Almond (of Soft Cell fame) will perform his 1983 Marc and the Mambas album Torment and Toreros in its entirety on 9 August.
Full info on Antony’s Meltdown can be found at http://meltdown.southbankcentre.co.uk/, and there will be more acts announced soon. Below is a classic Marc and the Mambas performance of In My Room from Torment and Toreros.