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AEG’s Simon Jones on the return of BRITs Week

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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Brits Week previews UK music’s biggest night

The 5th War Child Brits Week kicked off last Monday, giving fans the opportunity to see leading UK artists in intimate settings across London in the run up to this year’s Brit awards on Wednesday 20 February.

Brits Week, the series of intimate live performances by leading UK acts that precede the Brits are already underway, celebrating the best in British music whilst raising money for non-profit War Child.

British breakthrough act nominees, Idles, opened Brits Week on 11 February, playing at the 350-capacity 100 Club. You Me At Six performed on the same night at Scala (1,145-cap.), followed by performances by AJ Tracey at 100 Club, Nick Mulvey at Wilton’s Music Hall (400-cap.) and Enter Shikari at The Dome (5,039-cap.) throughout the week.

A DJ set from singer-songwriter Frank Turner in conjunction with Xtra Mile Recordings on Friday at 320-capacity Omeara, and a Sunday-night performance from Mabel at Bush Hall (425-cap.) closed out the first week.

Performances still to come include last year’s British group and British album winners, the 1975, who play at Islington’s 600-capacity the Garage this evening (18 February). Jake Bugg and Jade Bird join forces tonight at Omeara, Bring Me The Horizon play on Tuesday at the Dome and Anne-Marie performs the night before the awards ceremony at Omeara. A final performance by Tom Odell on Friday 22 February closes out Brits season.

The Brit awards take place this Wednesday at the O2 Arena in London. The awards ceremony will be hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall and broadcast live on ITV.

“These nominations illustrate what an incredible year it has been for British talent and remind us what a great time it is to be a music fan”

Hugh Jackman opens the ceremony, performing a song from his award-winning film, The Greatest Showman. Calvin Harris will perform alongside multiple Brit award nominee Dua Lipa, Rag’n’Bone Man and Sam Smith. Fans can also expect performances from Little Mix, the 1975, Ms Banks and this year’s outstanding contribution to music winner, Pink.

This year’s Brit awards see four nomination each for UK pop sensations Anne-Marie and Dua Lipa. Anne-Marie is up for British female, British single, British video and British album. Future Forum’s keynote guest, Dua Lipa, has two nominations a piece in the British single and British video categories.

George Ezra and Jorja Smith are up for three awards each, whereas a host of artists including the 1975, Calvin Harris, Jess Glynne and Florence and the Machine have received two nominations each.

Kamasi Washington, Travis Scott and Shawn Mendes are all up for international male against 2017 winner Drake and four-time Brit winner Eminem, whilst international female sees Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, Cardi B, Christine and the Queens and 2014 nominee Janelle Monáe all shortlisted.

“These nominations illustrate what an incredible year it has been for British talent and remind us what a great time it is to be a music fan, both in the UK and beyond,” says Jason Iley, Brits chairman and chief executive of Sony Music UK and Ireland.

“I’m delighted to see the nominations representing talent across a wide variety of genres – from returning artists to some incredibly exciting new talent – who are set to become the stars of the future.”

 

The full list of nominees can be found below:

British album of the year
The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
Anne-Marie – Speak Your Mind
Florence + The Machine – High As Hope
George Ezra – Staying At Tamara’s
Jorja Smith – Lost & Found

British female solo artist
Anne-Marie
Florence + The Machine
Jess Glynne
Jorja Smith
Lily Allen

British male solo artist
Aphex Twin
Craig David
George Ezra
Giggs
Sam Smith

British group
The 1975
Arctic Monkeys
Gorillaz
Little Mix
Years & Years

British breakthrough act
Ella Mai
Idles
Jorja Smith
Mabel
Tom Walker

Critics’ choice
Winner: Sam Fender
Lewis Capaldi
Mahalia

British single
Anne-Marie – 2002
Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa – One Kiss
Clean Bandit ft Demi Lovato – Solo
Dua Lipa – IDGAF
George Ezra – Shotgun
Jess Glynne – I’ll Be There
RAMZ – Barking
Rudimental – These Days
Siagla and Paloma Faith – Lullaby
Tom Walker – Leave A Light On

British video
Anne-Marie – 2002
Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa – One Kiss
Clean Bandit ft Demi Lovato – Solo
Dua Lipa – IDGAF
Jax Jones ft Ina Wroldsen – Breathe
Jonas Blue ft Jack & Jack – Rise
Liam Payne and Rita Ora – For You
Little Mix ft Nicki Minaj – Woman Like Me
Rita Ora – Let Me Love You
Rudimental – These Days

International male solo artist
Drake
Eminem
Kamasi Washington
Shawn Mendes
Travis Scott

International female solo artist
Ariana Grande
Camila Cabello
Cardi B
Christine & The Queens
Janelle Monae

International group
Brockhampton
The Carters
First Aid Kit
Nile Rodgers & Chic
Twenty One Pilots

 


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