EDINBURGH is gearing up for its biggest ever outdoor concerts season after a string of major names confirmed new summer shows.
Six weeks of open-air pop and rock concerts will be staged in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, either on the attraction’s Esplanade or in Princes Street Gardens.
Legendary Welsh singer Tom Jones and English rockers Kasabian will be making their debuts at the Ross Bandstand this summer, while soul star Rag’n’Bone Man will be returning to the arena less than a year after headlining the Hogmanay celebrations.
They have joined English pop diva Paloma Faith in the line-up for the new Edinburgh Summer Sessions programme, which will be staged at the height of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Meanwhile, Oasis star Noel Gallagher has confirmed a date with his High Flying Birds band at the Castle Esplanade in July.
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Regular Music, organisers of the Castle Concerts series, have already confirmed shows by El Divo, Del Amitri and Bananarama, who will be performing along with Scottish pop favourites Altered Images and The Bluebells.
With promoters DF Concerts, organisers of the T in the Park and TRSNMT festivals, expected to announced another four concerts in Princes Street Gardens, it means the city will host at least a dozen open-air concerts between Friday 13 July and Saturday 18 August.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival is also expected to stage three days of outdoor screenings in the middle of June, the weekend before the main event, which will run from 20 June till 1 July.
Previous acts to grace the Castle Esplanade have included Sir Rod Stewart, Olly Murs, Leonard Cohen, Blondie, Arcade Fire, Bryan Ferry, Pink, Paul Simon, The Proclaimers, Girls Aloud, James Taylor, Crosby Stills & Nash, Duran Duran, Tom Jones, Ricky Gervais and Sir Elton John.
Orbital, Nick Cave, BB King, Tony Bennett, Franz Ferdinand, Bryan Ferry, Steve Earle, Joan Baez and Belle & Sebastian have all performed summer shows at the Ross Bandstand over the years. However, the arena has not hosted any Fringe shows since The Waterboys, James and The Flaming Lips played there in 2015.
The city council has agreed to allow concerts to be staged over two weeks by DF Concerts to ensure they are financially viable due to the need to erect and dismantle full stage and production facilities around the existing crumbling bandstand, which dates back to 1935.
DF Concerts – which has not staged any outdoor concerts in Princes Street Gardens for more than a decade – said the new series of events would be a “bespoke version” of its sister event, Glasgow Summer Sessions, in Bellahouston Park, which has featured Noel Gallagher, Eminem, Paolo Nutini, Calvin Harris and Biffy Clyro over the last five years.
A spokeswoman for DF Concerts said: “These exciting events will take place in one of the most beautiful live music locations in the world – combining a Scottish audience with some of the highest profile artists on the scene today.
“With the bustling arts festival and electric city-wide atmosphere in full swing in August, it’s only right that the biggest names in music are brought to Edinburgh’s unique stage this summer at Edinburgh Summer Sessions.”
Geoff Ellis, chief executive of DF Concerts, said: “We’re delighted to return to Princes Street Gardens and announce our first artists for the inaugural series of Edinburgh Summer Sessions shows.
“With the success of its sister event Glasgow Summer Sessions, we’re thrilled to be part of Edinburgh’s electrifying atmosphere and culturally rich arts festival with these gigs.
“To have a legend like Tom Jones plus mainstays of the industry like Kasabian and Paloma Faith and the undeniably talented Rag’n’Bone Man proves our commitment to making Edinburgh Summer Sessions one of the real highlights of the summer.”
Donald Wilson, culture leader at the city council, said: “With Paloma Faith, Sir Tom Jones, Kasabian and the return of Rag’n’Bone Man to the Ross Bandstand following his sell-out performance at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, this series should be a great addition to Edinburgh’s live music offering this summer.”
The Edinburgh Summer Sessions gigs will be staged a year after a winning design was chosen for a new concert arena in Princes Street Gardens, which hotel developer Norman Sprinford is helping to pay for.
There are records of live music being staged in the gardens as far back as 1853 and the first bandstand was erected in 1877 – built as a gift to the city by whisky tycoon William Henry Ross.
The city council kick-started moves to replace the existing bandstand in 2004 after the cancellation of the previous Hogmanay celebrations, including the annual Concert In The Gardens, due to bad weather. However, the project stalled due to concerns about a lack of available funding to get a replacement off the ground.
Promoters have to pay to install full staging and lights for one-off events, such as December’s Sleep in the Park fundraiser, which Amy Macdonald, Liam Gallagher and Deacon Blue all appeared at.