2020 was a bit of a nightmare for live music in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle and…well, everywhere.

But there are plenty of reasons for optimism as the new year is upon us – here Jamie Summerfield looks ahead into 2021.

City centre live music venues like The Sugarmill and The Underground are gearing up to stage socially distanced gigs in Stoke-on-Trent.

The Underground had already put on some Covid-friendly shows before the second lockdown hit and has lots of gigs lined up for next year. Likewise, The Sugarmill has a line-up for 2021 that’s shaping up nicely, although socially-distanced Christmas shows from Average Joe that were planned for 22 and 23 December have had to be cancelled.

Whatever the return of live music looks like – and everything is crossed for an increasing return to normality thanks to vaccinations and rapid Covid testing – venues are ready and able to welcome back music fans who’ve been starved of their gig fix.

One way to support all local music venues right now is to check out their gig guides and get some tickets in the bag. Think of it as a down payment on a much brighter future!

One event that’s on the horizon in 2021 – and that you can support by grabbing early-bird tickets – is the return of the brilliant Your City festival in May.

Like every event in 2020, this year’s festival bit the dust, but the organisers are doing everything to ensure the event returns in 2021, whatever the situation in early summer. The event will see Your City gigs on 29 and 30 May at The Sugarmill, The Underground and The Basement featuring the best up-and-coming talent from our area. Plus there are plans for outdoor live music in the early summer sunshine in the Cultural Quarter on both days.

Ben Nixon is the driving force, with Richard Hearn, behind Your City, part of the brilliant Stoke band Psyence and a major cheerleader for the Potteries music scene. He’s positive that things are moving in the right direction for the festival, which was first staged in 2017, and the wider live music scene.

“Everything’s been taken away from us in 2020,” Ben says. “So we’re all going to be crying out for events, experiences, communities coming back together. We’re hoping that Your City can be a real kick-starter for the live music scene coming back to life.

“The quality of local bands that are coming through is amazing. Bands like Lucid Waters, The Sound Casino who’ve made a return, Sawel Underground. We’ve got Average Joe, Black Coast, Darla Jade and so many others. They’re just getting better and better.

“I can’t tell you how excited it makes me feel. It’s like going on holiday, if you knew that you were going to travel the world for six months. It’s that feeling!”

Buy your advance tickets for the Your City festival

Follow Your City on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest news and line-up announcements.

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