AEG Presents promoter Simon Jones has given IQ the inside track on this year’s BRITs Week as it returns for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.
The annual charity concert series gives fans the opportunity to see leading UK artists perform at intimate venue across London in the run-up to next Tuesday’s (8 February) BRIT Awards at The O2.
BRITs Week 2022 kicked off earlier this week with Anne-Marie at Lafayette, and has gone on to showcase Joy Crookes and Maisie Peters, both at Omeara, Bastille at EartH and Becky Hill at Lafayette.
It continues tonight with Fontaines DC at the 500-cap The Dome before concluding with Mimi Webb at Omeara (5 February), Craig David presents TS5 at Under The Bridge (17 February) and Damon Albarn at Troxy (20 February). A percentage of tickets go into a £5 prize draw, with the remainder going on general sale.
The event has raised millions of pounds for War Child since its inception in 2014, thanks to underplay shows by artists such as Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Take That, Florence & The Machine, Biffy Clyro , Foals, Royal Blood, Wolf Alice and The 1975, raising millions of pounds for War Child.
“We’re all very thankful that so many people want to play the series, and some indeed come back for multiple shows over the years,” says Jones, AEG’s SVP of music, international. “Everyone who takes part does so very enthusiastically because of the amazing work that War Child continue to do, for children in conflict across the world.”
“It’s just genuinely great to be back doing these red hot shows with amazing artists in small venues”
Here, in a special Q&A, Jones talks us through the evolution of the series…
How did BRITs Week come about?
“BRITs Week started out as a couple of shows at Brooklyn Bowl at The O2 in 2014. As The O2 was the host venue of the main ceremony, Maggie Crowe at the BPI, Milly Olykan, formerly of AEG, and myself concocted the idea to expand the footprint and outreach of the BRITs in the days surrounding the shows, by doing shows in small venues for very established artists. By year two in 2015 we had come up with a great collaboration with all of the major labels, and a collective of the independent labels, whereby they committed to collaboratively book a minimum of one show each year of their established artists in focus that year, with a supporting bill of their up and coming talent.
“At the same time of year, [artist/producer manager] Stephen Budd had a brilliant series of live shows called Passport Back to The Bars, which was a very similar concept, and was raising money for War Child. We all had the same ideas and so we aligned with each other and put everything under one umbrella, and it has gone on from strength to strength ever since.”
How did this year’s line-up come together?
“It can be very last minute that’s for sure! We had some very early confirmations for this years run, but the bulk of artists confirmed in the last few weeks prior to announcement, which keeps everyone on their toes. Will Smyth, Richard Clarke and Ben Anderson have all done a brilliant job on getting the bill together. Obviously, artists are very graciously giving up their time to play a show, in their packed schedules and normally high touring period, but the prospect of raising a bucket load of cash for War Child in the process is generally the driver for the artists.”
What have been some of your highlights from previous BRITs Weeks?
“Coldplay and Ed Sheeran who both played at Indigo at The O2 in different years were incredible shows. Foals at Shepherds Bush Empire, Idles at 100 Club, The 1975 at The Garage! Laura Marling at St Giles in the Fields was unreal… so many.”
What does it mean to you to see it return given the events of the last two years?
“Last year was a real downer, obviously, not being able to do the series, for obvious reasons, despite coming very close to doing a big streamed event – mainly because the amount of money that is raised for War Child each year is so substantial, and it makes a huge difference to them if it doesn’t happen. But for this year, it’s just genuinely great to be back doing these red hot shows with amazing artists in small venues. BRITs Week has become a real industry fixture each year and we’re all so pleased to have it back.”
Is there anything else you would like to add?
“A big shout out to everyone that has tirelessly worked on the series of shows since 2014 to help deliver amazing shows, to get BRITs Week to where it is, and raising a colossal amount of money for War Child. Maggie Crowe at BPI is a force of nature, an incredible human being, and the strings she pulls knows no bounds, it’s incredible. Milly Olykan of The O2 really was the driving force with Maggie to help start this, Geoff Taylor at BPI has always been extremely supportive and helpful in everything we do. Adrian, Giuseppe, Hannah and everyone at BPI. Each BRITs chairman, and each label head that has helped keep the the series alive. Jim Benner, Sam Briggs, Ben Knowles, Richard Clarke, Sascha Richter, Jamie Johnson, Emily Simms, Sophie McKay, Ben Anderson all of War Child past and present, Will Smyth, Will Dowdy, Ali Castriotis, Anna De Silva, Joseph Wallace, Jess Vincent, Nicole Allen, Katie Cavanah and Natalie Curtin all of AEG Presents. Everyone at DawBell including Charlie, Rachael and Kate who have done an incredible job over the years. Charlie Carrington, Andy Wise, and Agnes at Mastercard and Justin at BIG. And Paul Shulver, Sam Slee, Ella and Nuela the events previous sponsor O2 who were all big early believers and supporters in the project.”
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