Colston Hall’s 150th anniversary year round-up

Our 150th anniversary year is coming to and end and we’ve had an absolute blast! The events, concerts and celebrations we’ve presented this year have stood out as some of our most ambitious, eclectic and exciting that we’ve seen throughout the century and a half we’ve stood here in the streets of Bristol.

This year we’ve received international acclaim with the landmark Monteverdi 450 series, recently named The Guardian’s classical event of the year, welcomed rock icons and music pioneers to our stage, celebrated the city’s rich musical heritage both past and present and thrown a huge free party for you all.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the concerts and shows you’ve seen here in this iconic year and we’d love to hear what you’ve enjoyed the most about our 150th anniversary celebrations, so give your top moments a shout out to us on Twitter @Colston_Hall and use the hashtag #colstonhall150.

Here’s a look back through 2017 and the moments we’ve all shared in celebration of 150 years of music at Colston Hall.


Launching our anniversary programme

We launched our anniversary programme at the start of the year revealing some of the top gigs we’d be presenting through out 2017. We also delved into our archives to discover fascinating stories from our 150 year history and created a tool to tell you Who Played On Your Birthday.


Blockbuster scores and Folk icons

February saw the musical diversity of this year’s programming come into fruition as Lawrence English and Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart performed HEXA: Factory Photographs in The Lantern as a physical response to David Lynch’s photographs of disused factories. Just days before this, we welcomed the legendary folk singer Shirley Collins to our stage with an astonishing ensemble of collaborators, not to mention the all-female Morris dancing ensemble Boss Morris. And, just when our eclecticism was peaking, we gave you London Contemporary Orchestra’s live performance of Jonny Greenwood’s score to Paul Thomas Anderson’s Oscar-winning film There Will Be Blood to add a twist of musical and dramatic tension to February’s cocktail of events.


A month of music to make ya feet move!

In March we brought Detroit-based funk/soul musician and Prince and George Clinton collaborator Amp Fiddler to The Lantern for a night of grove-laden music fresh from Motor City that made us dance so hard we forgot to take any pictures! Then, the annual Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival took over every corner of our building and filled it with wailing guitar solos from Kirk Fletcher, Mercury Music Prize-worthy jazz from Dinosaur and the soulful sounds of wonderful singer Macy Gray – it was quite a weekend!


Silver screen sensation 

In April London Sinfonietta performed Mica Levi’s chilling score to the modern cult classic film Under The Skin live conducted by the composer herself and GoGo Penguin took the score of Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 visual documentary masterpiece Koyaanisqatsi into their own hands for a breathtaking performance of their newly composed music for the film.


Masterful Monteverdi

In April and May we presented the UK premiere of the Monteverdi 450 series, a landmark semi-staged presentation of Monteverdi’s three surviving operas – Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patriaL’incoronazione di Poppea and L’Orfeo – to mark 450 years since Monteverdi’s birth. After their performances at Colston Hall, the series went on to perform the Edinburgh International Festival, Salzburg Festival and countless other highly renowned international concert halls. And, to top it all, we’re delighted that this week all three performances in the operatic series have been named the Guardian’s top classical event of 2017!


Electronic music pioneers

Topping most of the Colston Hall staff’s top gigs of 2017 is the sell-out performance from German electro pioneers Kraftwerk who came to the main hall in June. It’s hard to imagine what modern music would sound like without this influential band and, from the opening engines and vocoders of Autobahn they sure didn’t disappoint us!


A sound system summer

As summer hit the city we prepared to celebrate sound system culture with a huge outdoor gig at Bristol’s harbourside amphitheatre with The Outlook Orchestra and Roots Manuva featuring a storming line-up of guest artists including Horace Andy, Dawn Penn, Loyle Carner, Congo Natty plus many more. While the weather didn’t hold, Bristol came out in force and with the fantastic set filled to the brim with sound system classics performed by some of the UK’s best musicians our spirits sure weren’t dampened for long. And we soon dried off at the steaming hot after party with DJ Marky and Pharoahe Monch!


A flaming massive unicorn

In the height of the summer, three-time Grammy-Award winners, The Flaming Lips performed at Colston Hall and secured their title as one of the most enduring, influential, unpredictable, and globally respected bands of their generation. If you were there, you’ll know why their live shows are dubbed a high-energy onslaught on the senses. It was two hours of utter madness!


Colston Hall turns 150

We started the month celebrating another birthday, the influential record label Erased Tapes who turned 10 years old this year. With a programme that brought the likes of Kiasmos, Lubomyr Melnyk, Penguin Cafe and Rival Consoles this was a festival of extremely high calibre that we were delighted to be a part of.

In the lead up to the big day we brought to life the stories, the famous faces and ordinary people who have made up the venue’s 150-year history in a special series of interactive theatrical tours around the Hall.

Then on Wednesday 20 September 2017 we turned 150 years old! Thanks to everyone who joined us for our big birthday bash for a seriously eclectic night of music. From the Bruce/Ilett Big Band whipping up the foyer into a swinging scene of jiving feet and the soaring splendour of Bristol Choral Society’s staircase performance, to unbeatable ukelele action in the Main Hall and Bristol Reggae Orchestra’s late night Lantern grooves, the whole evening was a delight from start to finish and we’re honoured that so many familiar Bristol faces came down to party with us.

As if one party wasn’t enough, we collaborated with BBC Radio Bristol to present the Big Sing on Saturday 23 September – a unique occasion bringing together singers from all over the city and beyond to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Colston Hall.


Bristol’s bands take over

As part of our 150th anniversary celebrations, we wanted to give something back to Bristol and present a festival showcasing the talent that has come out of our glorious city while keeping the ticket price as low as possible. With Bristol Takeover, we couldn’t have dreamed for a better line-up featuring the likes of Fantasy Orchestra, Beth Rowley, No Go Stop, Fránçois and The Atlas Mountains, H Hawkline, a SWU FM takeover of the old box office and a beautiful headline set from This Is The Kit.


Icons from Rock and Pop

The legendary Robert Plant delivered a superb return to our stage in November to a sell-out audience an a much deserved standing ovation. Meanwhile on the other end of the music spectrum the ultimate girl group of the eighties Bananarama returned for a night of pop hits and party anthems.


Closing with Clementine 

Bringing our 150th anniversary year to a close was an artist who we’ve admired since his emergence in 2014. We’ve loved watching Clementine rise to frequently mesmerising creative heights since his first solo performance in The Lantern three years ago. As Bristol Post noted, there’s no doubting that the 2015 Mercury Prize winner’s “beautiful, bizarre and wildly unpredictable” set was deserving of it’s rapturous standing ovation. It was a brilliant gig to bring a incredible year of music to a end.

Welcome to
Bristol Beacon

On Wednesday 23 September 2020 Colston Hall changed its name to Bristol Beacon.

Our new name is just the first step, it is about more than the sign above our door. Click below to find out more about how we’re changing, watch our name announcement, and discover how we want everyone to share in the joy of live music.

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