Q Magazine

The BBC 6 Music Festival is Back – We've Asked the Station's Presenters for Their Past Festival Highlights

'Seeing a huge stadium band up close, playing some of their biggest hits, was a gig I'll never forget.'

depeche mode  music festival
Source: BBC Radio 6 Music

Depeche Mode played Glasgow Barrowlands for the 2017 festival.

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BBC 6 Music Festival - Presenters' Highlights

tom ravenscroft and deb grant
Source: BBC Radio 6 Music

Tom Ravenscroft and Deb Grant will be broadcasting together each night of the festival.

Since 2014, the BBC 6 Music Festival has brought the noise – and the joy – to cities across the UK, with standout performances from huge bands alongside up-and-comers, oddities, and future stars… and for four days from March 7, 2024, returns at venues across its new permanent base in Greater Manchester. With this year’s headliners Young Fathers, Gossip and The Smile joined by a dizzying array of other artists and DJs, Q has bent the ears of six 6 Music presenters (plus the head of 6 Music, because she pulled rank) for their favorite memories of 6 Music Festivals past…

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Mary Anne Hobbs

roni size  music festival
Source: BBC Radio 6 Music

Roni Size had Bristol rocking with an unforgettable 2016 set.

“Incredible and truly unforgettable scenes, when Roni Size played in the foyer of the venue now known as Bristol Beacon at the 6 Music Festival in 2016. The venue has a giant open staircase around the atrium, leading up the three levels. I remember that staircase absolutely mobbed with ravers as Roni threw down a characteristically ferocious set. The decision to place Roni in the foyer, and let the breakbeat fans takeover any space that could hold them in the building, was a small stroke of genius. An indelible memory that has become a mythical story.”

Mark Radcliffe

snapped ankles  music festival
Source: BBC Radio 6 Music

Snapped Ankles in 2019 - 'Mystery and driving Motorik beats'.

“My best of times at the 6 Music Festival happened when Stuart [Maconie] and I were presenting our show from the Camp and Furnace in Liverpool (2019). All kinds of people including Damon Albarn and Paul Simonon dropped by where we were set up in the bar - always a good idea. In the adjacent hall there were a number of memorable sets which I have kind of remembered as being on one day but may in fact have stretched over two. The Comet is Coming were earth-shattering and skittish, Snapped Ankles brought mystery and driving Motorik beats and The Coral provided perfect psych pop. What a day (or two) that was.”

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Stuart Maconie

hot chip  music festival
Source: BBC Radio 6 Music

Hot Chip - 'Banger after banger'.

“My favorite 6 Music festival taken overall was 2017 in Glasgow. Fantastic city, fantastic people, fantastic breakfasts (Lorne Sausage, Tattie Scones etc). I practically lived in Barrowlands for the weekend and got to know the bar staff by name. How can you not love a venue which has its own tuck shop? And fabulous sets from Sleaford Mods and Thundercat. But my favorite ever performance came in 2015; Hot Chip at the Sage Gateshead. Banger after banger in front of an amazing crowd. I managed to get down to the front (into the photographers pit actually) and it was one of the most ecstatic shows I've ever seen. I like to think Tyneside has never fully recovered from some of my 'moves'.”

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Chris Hawkins

chris hawkins and nadine shah
Source: BBC Radio 6 Music

Chris Hawkins and Nadine Shah, a little overexcited.

Depeche Mode at Barrowlands in Glasgow was off the chart. Seeing a huge stadium band up close, playing some of their biggest hits, was a gig I’ll never forget. Dave Gahan was in top form. There’s a picture of me and Nadine Shah in the crowd, taken as they sang "Personal Jesus" and you can see the pure euphoric joy in our eyes. It was the epic end to the 2017 Festival in Glasgow and one of the best ever 6 Music Festival moments. In fact, it’s one of the best festival experiences of my life.”

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Don Letts

father john misty  music festival
Source: BBC Radio 6 Music

Father John Misty in 2015 - 'Like a cross between a rock 'n' roll street preacher and Anne Rice's Lestat'.

“Now y’all know beats n’ bass are pretty central to my case but that’s far from the sum total of the Rebel Dread’s soundtrack and I can’t think of a better example than Father John Misty to illustrate that. Truth be told I first got hip to the brother in my capacity as a 6 Music broadcaster and didn’t even realize he’d spent time with Fleet Foxes (also firm favorites). Via the radio it was his vocal delivery coupled with his lyrical twist on familiar themes that first struck a chord - and then I saw him live. When he took to the stage at the 6 Music Festival in Newcastle back in 2015 he seemed like a cross between a rock n’ roll street preacher and Anne Rice’s Lestat and that was it game over. From that time till the present day he’s never failed to captivate me live and on record.”

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Cerys Matthews

baloji  music festival
Source: BBC Radio 6 Music

Baloji owning Glasgow's Tramway.

“The untouchable appeal of these multi-artist events we call festivals – be they country affairs or city-based foxes – is their element of surprise. You never know which performers will catch the winds of the zeitgeist and bowl you right over. This year marks 10 years since the 6 Music Festival played out across Tyneside, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, Camden, Cardiff, and Greater Manchester. My highlights include sets by Songhoy Blues, Thundercat, Sinkane and Baloji at Glasgow’s Tramway. Hosting these shows at festivals brings its own merits, such as meeting Judy Collins and poetry talk with Arlo Parks. This year we return to ever evolving Greater Manchester – my Sunday show will be broadcast from Ramona on March 10th, followed by bandleader Femi Koleoso serving up a Morning After Mix. I am also looking out for CMAT, the Dublin born artist whose lyrics and melodies could be a match for Taylor Swift's. What exactly to expect? Who knows – but that's the point. See you there.”

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Samantha Moy, Head of 6 Music

depeche mode  music festival
Source: BBC Radio 6 Music

Depeche Mode at Barrowlands - up close and personal Jesus.

“Hands down, Depeche Mode at The Barrowlands in Glasgow. It’s rare for a group of this stature to play a smaller venue and to do so for the 6 Music Festival in 2017 felt very special. What took it to the next level was the crowd. Glasgow, like us at 6, adores music and the city always comes out in full force for us. They made that gig incredible. A special mention also goes to Manic Street Preachers, who played at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff, in 2022. Again, a massive band in a tiny space – one of my favourite venues in the UK. It was a historic moment too – they were meant to play there in 1990 and never did, because they had to sign their record deal in London instead. So, I’m very proud to say 6 Music helped to make a little bit of musical magic happen.”

The BBC Radio 6 Music Festival takes place in Greater Manchester from March 7th – 10th. Tune in on 6 Music, BBC Sounds, BBC Four and BBC iPlayer. For full line-up, click here.


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