Every June London’s Southbank becomes home to the Meltdown Festival, which this year celebrates 25 years since its inception. The annual event is curated by a different musician or band each year, and gives audiences the chance to come and check out some of their heroes’ heroes.
Beginning in 1993 the artist-led festival has seen numerous icons take the helm. For instance, 2018 is curated by The Cure’s Robert Smith. While previous years have featured curation by David Byrne, Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Massive Attack, the New York Dolls, Ray Davies, David Bowie, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker, and many more.
It was composer George Benjamin who initially came up with the idea to host the festival, and he was their inaugural curator too. He’d got the idea after he had hosted a music festival in San Francisco where he was able to collate together all the things he adored musically, and put them into one festival.
So he brought this idea back with him and spoke with the Southbank, and they decided it was something they should do.
“The idea behind Meltdown” explains the Southbank Centre’s Director of Music Gillian Moore in a BBC Radio 6 Music special about the festival, “is an artist, a musician usually, curates a festival, that they bring together all the different things that they love. And put a sort of, a portrait of themselves in a way to the public, and offer this to an audience.”
As such there’s been some fascinating, eccentric, obscure, and, of course, legendary musicians and artists perform at the festival over the years. One person who has been there to capture some great moments is Rockarchive and official Meltdown photographer Mark Mawston. His portraits have captured some of the legendary musicians and bands who have performed at the Meltdown Festival since 1993. Sometimes capturing the last ever gig of a beloved, and much-missed, band or musician.
Here Mark talks us through some of the shots he’s taken, which capture some legendary musicians and artists as they command the stage. It gives us a little glimpse at what’s been going on at this cultural melting pot every June for the past 25 years.