Rocking Around the Bullring: A Xmas Gig Guide

We often associate Christmas with quaint home comforts: turkey sarnies, chestnuts roasting on open fires, ‘horrid’ jumpers from Nan that we’d probably splash £40 on if they were hanging off a rack in Urban Outfitters. But what to do if we want to hit the town, yet can’t stomach the thought of yet another mulled wine at the famous Xmas market?

Round up some pals and go to a gig, silly! With some big names hitting some of the biggest venues in and around Birmingham, you can experience some top festive music this December away from Mum’s countless Christmas carol CDs – maybe expect a tongue-in-cheek cover of ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ somewhere down the line, though…

You could do worse than kicking off the party with Scissor Sisters at the LG Arena on 3rd December. They’ve rediscovered their credibility without losing any of the fun on third album Night Work, and their show, featuring Hurts as the opening act, is sure to be camp as Christmas. (Like you didn’t see that coming.) If you’ve got any energy left, keep on dancing at Wolves Civic the following night when the Sisters’ electro-pop forebears Human League treat us to their back catalogue of classics.

Back in Brum, those who prefer the quieter kind of Crimbo can indulge in poetic acoustics from Mercury-nominated Villagers on 5th December at the HMV Institute  – they’ll undoubtedly be wearing fuzzy festive jumpers. Keeping it twee, the following night beloved Scots Belle and Sebastian will be at Symphony Hall, playing music for lovelorn geeks everywhere to kiss under the mistletoe to. Or, if The Boy with the Arab Strap passed your generation by, catch pop-punkers You Me At Six the same night in Wolverhampton.

Feel like the whole ‘birthday of Jesus’ thing warrants a sense of occasion? You can’t get more epic than Arcade Fire on 8th December, who’ll deliver a simultaneously gloomy yet life-affirming sermon at the LG. The fact that prince of cool Devendra Banhart is supporting is enough to seal the deal, surely?

If you’re looking for a Christmas knees-up, Ronnie Spector’s Best Christmas Ever on the 9th at the HMV Institute’s Library sounds like a great addition to the party season – even if Phil Spector will be eating another turkey dinner behind bars this year. Meanwhile, Suggs and his band Madness will get even Santa skanking at the O2 Academy on 11th December, while Martha Reeves & the Vandellas represent a ghost from Christmases past at the Institute on the 17th.

Local music fans get an early present in the form of Wolves troubadour Scott Matthews appearing at his city’s Slade Rooms venue on the 10th, three nights before The View, who will hopefully have some new jeans waiting in their stocking this year. Birmingham heroes The Twang also headline a Christmas homecoming gig at the Institute on 20th December.

Nothing taken your fancy as of yet? Rock around the Xmas tree with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the O2 Academy on 7th December. Stop by the ever-lovely Glee Club on the 12th to witness the sufficiently Christmassy-sounding Trembling Bells. Or tickle your funny bone with white and nerdy Weird Al Yankovic on the 2nd at  O2 Academy, or Jimmy Carr at Wolves Civic on 17th December.

There’s easily something for everyone then, and what better way to while away the cold nights than getting to the front at a must-see gig? There’s only one way to wrap up this Christmas’s musical merriment though, and that’s with a trip to see The Pogues at the O2 Academy on 18th December. Raise a glass during ‘A Fairytale of New York’ and your own fairytale Birmingham Christmas will surely be one to remember. LM

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