'Retro but contemporary': Inside the Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival

'Retro but contemporary': Inside the Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival

The Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival has been tipped to return "bigger and better" in 2020 ahead of this weekend's inaugural edition. 

The 20,000-capacity event, which brings together immersive theatre, live music and fashion inspired by the show, debuts in the TV series' home city of Birmingham in Digbeth from September 14-15.

Festival director John Empson told Music Week"We looked at putting this show on in London but it immediately became clear that to get this right, and give it authenticity, Birmingham – particularly Digbeth – was the right place to go. The real Peaky Blinders committed their first crime exactly where we're holding this event.

"In London, there is a danger of too many things happening and saturation of market, whereas in Birmingham, you can't underestimate how close to their hearts they hold this show. This will be one of the biggest things to happen there for a very long time."

Confirmed acts include Primal Scream, Anna Calvi (who has written the score for the current series), Slaves and Nadine Shah, while Liam Gallagher has teased a surprise set. The video for Gallagher's latest single One Of Us was written and directed by Peaky Blinders creative duo Steven Knight and Anthony Byrne.

"We've scaled this show up from our original ambition, purely on reception and advice from everybody in Birmingham, so hopefully we'll go bigger and better in 2020," revealed Empson, who has teamed with multiple partners on the festival including Knight, AEG Presents, Caryn Mandabach Productions and Endemol Shine Group.

"Music is so prominent [in the show]; everything on the soundtrack fits seamlessly in with the show. It's retro, but contemporary, which is what we've tried to do with the event as well."

We've scaled this show up from our original ambition, purely on reception and advice from everybody in Birmingham

John Empson

The Legitimate Peaky Blinders Festival 

The festival will also include live recreations of Peaky Blinders scenes involving 200 actors, along with a cinema screening, a museum, poetry and appearances from cast members including Kate Phillips (Linda Shelby), Packy Lee (Johnny Dogs), Finn Cole (Michael Gray), Harry Kirton (Finn Shelby), Paul Anderson (Arthur Shelby) and Paddy Considine (Father John Hughes).

"It is not all about the music, and that's what's so exciting about it," said Empson. "People will be immersed in the world of Peaky Blinders."

Actor Cillian Murphy, who plays lead character Tommy Shelby, has recorded a performance of two poems, which will be exclusively broadcast across the festival.

"Cillian is on the end of the phone with Steve Knight and he has had a big hand in the music that's on the show and the event," added Empson. "We know he's a huge music fan – we've all listened to his 6 Music show – so the music he likes is very well represented."

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