With Noddy Holder and Roy Wood back in their respective boxes for another year and just the small hurdle of the lawless Northern line singalong at 3.45am on 1 January left to negotiate, it’s time to look forward to what musical treats 2015 might bring us.
Despite music’s remarkable breadth, in London as much as anywhere, there’s sure to be something for everyone in the forthcoming 12 months, though a lazy music reporter’s stock prediction that this might be the year Kate Bush makes a comeback has been somewhat punctured by the events of the last few months. You never know, maybe she’ll do a few gigs from which male fans between the ages of 40 and 50 are banned, though it’s hard to see why anyone would want to play to a venue 2% full.
Here’s 2015 in London music. Nostradamus was a chancer.
Capital album releases
Not a year goes by without London acts releasing some blinding LPs, though the most exciting tend to be those not many saw coming, like the debut from mind-boggling modern soul outfit Jungle.
But this is about predictions so we’d better have a go. James Blake will be back, and the Enfield singer-songwriter is hoping for a few tasty collaborations on his follow-up to 2013’s Overgrown. The Libertines will be hoping Pete Doherty’s most recent stint in rehab will renew his creative output enough for the band to finally put out their third album, 11 years since their last. There could be a new Blur album, but then again, maybe not.
Camberwell singer Kwabs will almost certainly be putting out his debut album in 2015, and if his recent single Walk is anything to go by it may be a triumph. You can watch the video for the song below, and there’s plenty of his home town in it.
There’s always the possibility that Adele will get around to putting out her third album, after a lack of a 25 or 26 prompted this statement from her record label: "There will not be a further new release by Adele during 2014 and consequently there will be a fall in XL's turnover and profits".
One particularly London-heavy album on the horizon is the second LP from Skinny Lister. They've come to popular attention in recent weeks thanks to a number of berks having mistaken Sky TV’s Christmas advert music, sung by Skinny Lister’s singer Daniel Heptinstall, as a new song by Coldplay. None of that is Heptinstall or Skinny Lister’s fault, and they’ll be releasing their album Down in Deptford Broadway in 2015, upon which you can find the splendid track Trouble On Oxford Street, and here’s that.
It’s likely the Croydon-based winner of the most recent series of the X Factor, Ben Haenow, will put an album out whenever Cowell decrees it most commercially prudent to do so. Don’t blame us, you voted for him.
Birthdays and anniversaries
Fifty years since the birth of one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960s, the Small Faces should be celebrated in 2015. The Small Faces didn’t have the longevity of most of their peers, with founders Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane both passing away in the 1990s, and keyboardist Ian McLagan also won’t be around to celebrate a much-loved band having died just a few weeks ago (perhaps putting paid to a potential reunion of the (non-Small) Faces in the process). That’ll leave celebrated drummer Kenney Jones to remind us how poorer London’s musical history would be without incredible tunes such as Whatcha Gonna Do About It, Itchycoo Park and All Or Nothing.
Little-known beat combo the Sex Pistols played their first ever gig at the St. Martin's School of Art in November so expect film-makers to start updating their documentaries from 2005 about how that gig changed everything and everyone who would ever be famous from that point on was at the show. Geldof will likely be doing the rounds again in the summer for the 30th anniversary of Live Aid at Wembley and elsewhere. There’s likely to be a reappraisal of the Ivor Novello Awards around May of 2015, the 60th anniversary of their inception and debut in London.
It also would have been the 80th birthday of Elvis Presley, but he never visited London, not once — or did he?
Where next for live music?
The past year has been a tough one for London’s small venues. We’ve said goodbye to Madame Jojo’s and the Buffalo Bar, the 12 Bar Club on Denmark Street is on the way out and plenty of others look to be on their last legs as rapacious developers seek to capitalise on the lack of protective legislation for our beloved music scene.
All is not lost; east London is a hive of activity with the wealth of small venues in Hackney giving rise to a thriving music scene spanning countless genres. Every once in a while a new venue will pop up somewhere you might not expect, such as Nell's Jazz & Blues in West Kensington, which just played host to a trio of gigs from none other than Van Morrison.
We’re uncertain enough about the current health of the live music business to withhold it as a prediction, but we absolutely hope that 2015 is the year that London’s live music scene stabilises, and that politicians are made to hear and understand campaigns such as Agent of Change, designed to protect existing live venues.
Bringing politics back into music
Will one of the most unpredictable elections of recent times prompt a resurgence in political music? Music can often be at its best when it displays its left-wing credentials on its sleeve — you may agree or disagree with the sentiment but the passion is clear for all to hear in the music of The Clash, Asian Dub Foundation, Billy Bragg et al.
The problem being that we have to use ‘et al’ to pretend it’s more common than it is. In 2011 the management of the London Philharmonic Orchestra claimed that “music and politics do not mix”, and though we fervently hope that’s not true, one story has us worried for the next few months.
You can’t have missed Russell Brand’s spat with a city worker in December, and Joseph Kynaston Reeves’s subsequent open letter calling Brand a bellend of the highest order, or words to that effect. What you may not have picked up from the story is that London has a new political musician to tell us how to vote on 7 May. Kynaston Reeves, self-professedly of the ‘right-wing persuasion’, is in a band called Squander Pilots, which he could now use to put Boris Johnson into the previously surely unwinnable seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Here is the Squander Pilots’ track Given. Tragically, it’s really not bad.
The reunion we’ve all been waiting for
Some bands reform to address unfinished business. Others are in it for the money, and brashly admit as much. But some reunions are forced upon bands by millions of clamouring fans given amplified voice by social media.
Ladies and gentlemen, S Club 7 are back.
Tina, Paul, Rachel, Jo, Hannah, Bradley and Jon could put off the inevitable no longer and 2015 will be the year of the Bring It All Back tour — 16-17 May are the dual dates for the massive homecoming shows at the O2 Arena, and you’ll want to get in quick as the first of them’s already down to ‘limited availability’, if you can believe that.
Of slightly more notable note is that The Kinks look likely to reform at some point during 2015. Ray Davies says he’s definitely going to do it, and whether brother Dave is involved is up to him. Dave himself is characteristically unsure. Come on lads — if S Club 7 can patch up their well-publicised drug and violence-fuelled differences, surely a bit of sibling rivalry can’t stop you.
Feeling clairvoyant? Tell us your music predictions for 2015 in the comments below.