Photo by Shotaway, courtesy of Colston Hall

Music

From Victorian concert halls, converted churches and hidden cellar-club bars, music is stitched into the cultural fabric of these two cities

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Both cities welcome international artists, nurture home-grown talent and stage world-class musical events.

Sounds familiar

Bristol is said to have more musicians per capita than any other British city. The M Shed’s nostalgic 2018 exhibition called Seven Decades of Sound says it all. Bristol earned its international reputation in the 1990s with home-grown trip-hop - a mash-up of hip hop, dub and electronica - delivered by the likes of Massive Attack, Tricky and Portishead. The so-called ‘Bristol sound’ is edgy, provocative and ultra chilled – the city in a nutshell perhaps.

Transformations

Bristol’s iconic Colston Hall is closed for a major refurbishment that will see the city centre’s principal concert hall transformed for a grand re-opening in 2020, and in the meantime it continues to promote a fine range of gigs in other venues around the city. The former parish church, St George’s Bristol, has just re-launched after a £6-million extension that will support its reputation as the best place in the city to hear acoustic music from classical and jazz to folk and soul.

Music every night 

Bath is often associated with Bath Philharmonia and the Mozart and Bach festivals, but it has other strings to its bow. Still rocking after all these years, the Bell is the city’s bastion of bohemia. A live-music institution dating from the 1960s, the pub is now a co-operative with shareholders including Robert Plant, Peter Gabriel and Midge Ure. Subterranean club Moles was voted ‘best venue for up and coming bands’ by BBC 6 Music and NME. 

Among a long list of venues, Bristol stalwarts include Trinity Centre in Old Market, Old Duke (named after Duke Ellington and notoriously hosting live music every night of the week) and The Thekla, a cargo ship turned music venue once owned by legendary eccentric Vivian Stanshall.

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