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News 23 Jun 16

British Soul Stars Headline Belgrade Calling Festival

This year’s festival, one of the city’s premiere events to catch international stars, features an array of British soul music.

David Galic
John Newman. Photo: Flickr/Drew de F Fawkes. 

Taking the stage for the 2016 Belgrade Calling at Tasmajdan Stadium later this month will be popular British soul singer John Newman, and legendary soul pop superstars Simply Red.

The open-air event takes place June 22-23, with Newman headlining the first night and Simply Red closing out the second night.

One interesting narrative of this year’s festival is the similar musical space in which the two main performers operate. If Simply Red are considered the forefathers of soul-inspired British pop music, Newman undoubtedly represents this sound and scene’s future.

This thematic span is keeping with Belgrade Calling’s revelatory tradition. Founded in 2012, the festival books an eclectic lineup each year, without sticking to an obvious format. Not knowing what to expect is undoubtedly among the best things about this summer event.

Not only does the musical direction of the festival change every year, the venue and duration change as well.

While the first edition was at the Kalemegdan Fortress and lasted four nights, this year’s festival will take over Tasmajdan Stadium for only two days.

The first-ever Belgrade Calling festival was the heaviest, featuring heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath fame, American alternative rock legends Faith No More, British rockers The Cult and hip-hop revolutionaries Public Enemy, among others.

While this year’s festival features somewhat “lighter” options, it will be no less spectacular.

Newman is one of today’s most sought-after soul singers, scoring numerous worldwide hits over the last several years and playing sold out shows around the globe. Hailing from Yorkshire, Newman fell in love with American soul music thanks to his mother, who loved playing old Motown and Stax records. As a musician, Newman was a selfstarter, teaching himself how to play guitar and record music. He dabbled in electronic music and DJing, something that would later become an integral part of his success.

Namely, after moving to London to form a band, he ended up meeting and becoming friends with Piers Aggett of Rudimental. A collaboration between the two on a track called “Feel the Love” launched Newman’s career into the stratosphere.

On the other side of the coin, second-night headliners Simply Red need no introduction as far as Belgrade is concerned. The soul legends played two brilliant, sold out shows in the Serbian capital, first in 2006 and again in 2009.

The month’s concert should be just as electric. The 2009 tour was supposed to be the band’s last, but after a short hiatus, Simply Red reunited to celebrate the band’s thirtieth anniversary with a full European tour this year.

There will also be regional musicians supporting on both nights. Popular Serbian pop group Artan Lili will be opening for Newman, while Croatian singer Natali Dizdar and the band Jinx will be getting the crowd pumped up before Simply Red takes the stage.

For each night of music, tickets will cost between €16 and €25, depending on seating.

Tickets can be purchased either at the door on the night of the show or at any Eventim box office in the city or online.

This article was published in BIRN's bi-weekly newspaper Belgrade Insight. Here is where to find a copy. 

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