The best of 2015

As 2015 comes to a close, we look back on a year packed full of memorable moments and round up our top gigs. This year more than any other its been difficult to whittle the list down and stick to (roughly) one gig per month. We’re not overstating when we say that 2015 has been one of the biggest and best years in Colston Hall’s illustrious history.

This year our stages were graced with some incredible performances: the highly regarded BBC series Transatlantic Sessions made its Bristol debut back in February, as did one of the stars of 2015 – George Ezra.  The enigmatic Sufjan Stevens sold out his September date in a matter of minutes, while a huge crowd also packed in to see the equally enthralling Nils Frahm command our stage in May.

It was also a year in which The Lantern really came into its own – from the hip-shaking party music of Ibibio Sound Machine in January to the only UK date outside of London from Kamasi Washington in November. Also in November we saw a sold out show by the artist behind one of the albums of the year: Julia Holter. Not to mention a mariachi tribute to Morrissey with Mexrrissey, sublime hip-hop from Akala and a funk odyssey with DaM-FunK.

And of course who could forget one of the best Bristol gigs of the year – Goldie and The Heritage Orchestra celebrating the drum and bass pioneer’s seminal album Timeless with an outdoor performance on the Harbourside to a crowd of 5,000. An arms in the air experience to be cherished by everyone who was there and a very proud moment for the Colston Hall team.

That only scratches the surface, so read on to see some pictures from our other top gigs and we look forward to seeing you again in 2016.


Ibibio Sound Machine
Thu 29 Jan, The Lantern

Picture by Chris Cooper of ShotAway

A mellifluous mash-up of West African highlife, disco, post-punk and psychedelic electro soul – Ibibio Sound Machine got the year off to a booty-shaking start with their show in The Lantern back in January.


George Ezra
Tue 17 Feb

Picture by Chris Cooper of ShotAway

Bristol’s own adopted son has had the year of his life in 2015. Before playing his sell out Summer Series show on the Harbourside in July, he made his main hall debut in February with a set-list full of some of this year’s biggest hits.


The Sun Ra Arkestra
Mon 23 Mar, The Lantern

Sun Ra Arkestra in The Lantern at Colston Hall

Picture by Chris Cooper of ShotAway

At 91 years old, Marshall Allen led the late great Sun Ra’s Arkestra onto The Lantern stage for a set of cosmos-spanning jazz complete with some out-of-this world costumes. A very special night.


Nils Frahm
Thu 21 May

Picture by Chris Cooper of ShotAway

Alone on stage but for an arsenal of pianos, keyboards, and his own home-made organ – contemporary classical composer Nils Frahm not only demonstrated how to play the piano with a toilet brush, but also just what an astounding effect his music can have an audience when performed live.


Fri 29 – sun 31 Jun

A three-day festival built around folk and electronica curated by the band Lau, Lau-Land saw a sublime intimate set from Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat in The Lantern, a headline set in the main hall by the controversy-courting Sun Kil Moon and a headline Saturday night show by desert-blues band Tinariwen (pictured). Eclectic and thought-provoking, Lau-Land transported us to another place entirely for the weekend.


Burt Bacharach
Wed 8 Jul

Burt Bacharach at Colston Hall on July 8th 2015

Picture by Chris Cooper of ShotAway

A songwriting and performing legend. Shortly after charming the socks off of everybody at Glastonbury Festival, Burt Bacharach called in at Colston Hall with a truck-load of hits and a smooth-as-silk show.


Goldie and the Heritage Orchestra
Sat 25 Jul, Lloyds Amphitheatre

Picture by Chris Cooper of ShotAway

Picture by Chris Cooper of ShotAway

Picture by Sarah Ginn

You’ve never heard drum and bass performed like this. The Heritage Orchestra, conducted by Charles Hazlewood and led by Goldie, gave the d’n’b legend’s album Timeless a tribute that was thrilling and mind-blowing. A pivotal moment in dance music celebrated 20 years on in a city that has always had a strong connection to the scene and the artist. Turning the Foyer into a club for the after-party was also quite spectacular as seminal tracks were rolled out into the early hours. We won’t forget this one in a hurry.


Hoo Ha Festival
Wed 19 – Fri 21 Aug

In August we were over-run with little tykes building cardboard cities, learning to beat-box, dancing in the disco shed, listening to poetry and generally having a Hoo Ha! We look forward to doing it again next year.


Sufjan Stevens
Sun 6 Sep

Picture by Chris Cooper of ShotAway

Sufjan Stevens tours are few and far between, so when we announced he would be playing the Hall the response was understandably emphatic, with tickets selling out the day they went on sale. Having produced one of the albums of the year, this was a beautiful end to the summer.


Simple Things Festival
Fri 23 – Sat 24 Oct

Picture by Chris Cooper of ShotAway

This picture pretty much sums up Simple Things Festival at Colston Hall. Sweaty, energetic, surprising, visceral. The annual event always brings something special along, and Savages’ (pictured) set was just that.


In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited
Thu 19 Nov

Picture by Chris Cooper of ShotAway

A tribute to the wild man of cinema – David Lynch – and the music composed for his films which simply stunned everybody. Not just for aficionados, casual fans and those unfamiliar with the director’s work were enthralled by a star cast including Stuart Staples of Tindersticks, Conor O’Brien of Villagers and Jehnny Beth of Savages.


Thunderbirds Are Go! 50 Years On
Tue 1 Dec

Picture by Chris Cooper of ShotAway

Another one that took us by surprise – who would have thought that a whole concert of ’60s children’s TV themes would have us whooping and hollering? All composed by Barry Gray for Gerry Anderson’s hit programmes, this tribute in Thunderbirds’ 50th anniversary year was F.A.B!

To see an exhibition of Colston Hall gig photography by Chris Cooper of Shot Away, pop into the Glass Room on the Lower Ground floor.