Afternoon delight: the rise of daytime and matinee gigs from Gwenno to teen star Bronnie

bronnie 3

Bronnie onstage at Liverpool’s Zanzibar Club (Photo credit: Samantha J Guess)

With more artists performing daytime and matinee gigs, Getintothis’ Cath Bore finds out why.

With the popularity of music festivals on the increase, enjoying live music when the sun is up is less of a novelty.

We’ve always had access to music in daylight hours, buskers and the traditional boozer have seen to that, but the rise in matinee and daytime gigs in a more organised setting feels new.

Having said that, Liverpool, like many cities, has considerable form. Back in the 1960s The Beatles and Merseybeat groups played lunchtime sessions at The Cavern Club, office and shop and factory workers sipping a cup of Bovril or milk, enjoying tunes and a little dance before heading back for another afternoon at the coalface. And let us not forget the glorious Eric’s Club in late 1970s and early 80s, with matinee shows for under 18s or those poor unfortunates unable to make the thrilling and legendary evening events after nightfall.

But daytime gigs in 2018 are rather different from then. They stretch cross the genres, and whats more pull in a wide and diverse audience quite different than one finds at night time gigs.

Bronwyn Hughes, known to her legions of teenage fans as Bronnie, is a Wirral-based musician who started her career three or four years ago playing covers on YouTube, building up a substantial following of teenage viewers,  before receiving the nod of approval from American Idol judge Ryan Seacrest. She was bigged up by Louis Tomlinson from One Direction and McFly’s Tom Fletcher and supported the likes of Little Mix around the UK.

Bronnie won Seacrest’s cover version competition over in the US, no mean feat, and this week completed her first headline tour of the UK. All of the dates were afternoon shows, with Bronnie and her band delivering a 45 minute set, plus three support bands performing 20 mins or so each.

We caught up with her at Liverpool’s Zanzibar, the 300 capacity club near enough sold out on a Sunday afternoon. The club is teeming with excited teenage girls, some of who have been queueing outside since 6am. The place has a celebratory atmosphere today, and smiles are on every single face.

‘Most of the tours I’ve been doing (so far) have been afternoon shows. We started to realise…cos my fans are 14 to 18… it’s dangerous, them waiting outside the venues. If I had a little girl and she was 14 I wouldn’t feel comfortable her waiting outside by herself or with friends, in the dark,’ says Bronnie.

‘It’s that awkward age where they don’t want to go to gigs with their parents, it’s not cool. I go to gigs with my parents all the time, but when I was 14 I was, “oh no, that’s lame”. I think doing it in the daytime, it’s perfect, especially in the wintertime. I just want everyone at my gigs to feel safe.’

The audience this afternoon full on celebrate with 100% delight when Bronnie announces they will be filmed to take part in the video for her next single. In the Zanazibar today we have no trendy musos, it’s not a gig to pose by the bar, or to be seen at. Everybody here is a genuine Bronnie fan. It’s very very refreshing.

Why first gigs are priceless memories which last forever

There are, says Bronnie, benefits for her as an artist when it comes to daytime shows. She conducts lengthy meet and greets after the performance, talking to fans and posing for selfies, but even after all that, it’s a welcome early dart home, no matter where in the UK the she is.

‘You can’t do partying, gotta save the voice!’ she laughs. ‘I go home, have a couple of beers, chill out.’

Any downsides?

‘It’s early mornings but y’know, every job has early mornings! I do love doing night time gigs and hopefully when my fans grow with me I’ll start to do more.’

It is not just teen audiences who are taking advantage of daytime shows. Get It Loud In Libraries matinee gigs in the North of England so far have included This Is The Kit, Yuck, Daughter and Ben Leftwich all playing to sell out audiences encompassing a wide demographic.

‘I think the matinee shows carry a strong message for people who don’t necessarily like going out at night, lone women music fans, families who generally, apart from festivals, find it difficult to attend great music events together,’ says project manager Stewart Parsons.

‘Our gigs are safe anyway – with our dry bar ethos, but daytime gigs add gravitas to our aims and objectives for young people, students and people living under protected characteristics. It supports the Arts Council’s Creative Case for Diversity.’

Safety of girls and women is always an issue, the Safe Gigs For Women campaign having a noticeable impact, spreading awareness of safety within venues, but there are other factors. Music lovers travelling to and from gigs after dark, with many venues in badly lit areas, reliance on public transport for many, focus on alcohol consumption…it’s easy to see why many women and girls are eager to use safe space alternatives when offered them.  

‘Benefits include being able to access live music in the afternoon, circumnavigating all the issues involved with babysitters, transport poverty (last bus and train home), finding quality things to do, both on your own, as a couple, as a  family on a Sunday afternoon. Especially in winter when it is difficult to leave a warm home and fire to set out in the dark to a gig. Daytime gigs allow you to be home for Countryfile, or a roast dinner, whatever you like.’

The Glad Cafe and The Glad Foundation in Glasgow in association with Creative Scotland created the Glorious Traces Legacy, a series affordable and accessible matinee concerts from Withered Hand, Willy Mason, A New International, Belle & Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson and more, designed to enable young families and children to experience music in a live environment, possibly for the first time.

Welsh Music Prize 2015 winner Gwenno is performing at Aberystwyth‘s Ceredigion Museum in March, on a Sunday afternoon, as part of her tour to promote new album Le Kov. The GiLiL, Kids In Museums, and Welsh Government-supported matinee date slots in comfortably and unremarkably in a schedule of conventional night time shows in conventional venues like Gulliver’s in Manchester and Leeds’ Brudenell.

It’s easy, says Stewart, to understand why more artists like Gwenno and Bronnie are open to matinee performances.

Artists enjoy the unique timescale and warm friendly reception they receive from the fans. Daytime gigs are real memory makers,’ he says. ‘Daytime festivals are now part of the fabric of the UK music sector – let’s make daytime gigs as important.’




Leave a Reply