The biggest music and stage tours of 2019

2019 has been a bumper year for music and stage tours! With some of the biggest names in music making history, there were plenty of fantastic events for music fans. We’ve taken a look back at 2019’s biggest events, and a look ahead to what 2020 has to offer.

Glastonbury’s 2019 return

One of the UK’s most famous music festivals made a big comeback this year. Glastonbury didn’t actually run in 2018; this is because it was a “fallow year”, to give both the land and the organisers a break. However, it seems that to many music fans, it was definitely worth the wait.

2019 marked the first time a British rapper headlined the festival, with rap sensation Stormzy appearing on the Pyramid Stage. NME spoke about his performance in glowing terms, saying his performance was a “platform to elevate others, a statement of intent and bloody brilliant”.

2019 also saw Kylie Minogue appear at Glastonbury for the first time. The Australian star meant to appear at Glastonbury back in 2005. However, she was forced to cancel her performance due to her breast cancer diagnosis. As such, her appearance this year was highly emotional, and she took the chance to reflect on that time in her life.

Another high point of Glastonbury 2019 was its improved environment record. The festival banned single-use plastic bottles from being sold, while 99.3% of tents made it home!

What we know about Glastonbury 2020

Since 2020 marks Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary, we can expect some major stars to appear. Many of the details are still unknown, but there are rumours that Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar will appear as headline acts. We do know that Paul McCartney will headline the Pyramid Stage on Saturday night, with Diana Ross appearing on Sunday. In any case, this is definitely one music event to keep an eye on.

Northern Ballet’s Victoria

Inspired by the life of our most famous monarch, acclaimed ballet Victoria had its world première this year. It ran for 9 weeks in spring 2019 across the UK, and coincided with the 200th anniversary of the queen’s birth. The ballet also launched at the stately home Harewood House, which appeared in the ITV drama Victoria.

The ballet explores Victoria’s life through the eyes of her daughter Beatrice, who was both tasked with editing Victoria’s diaries and adversely affected by her mother’s wishes. Cathy Marston oversaw choreography, direction and the scenario, while Philip Feeney was responsible for the music.

Publications like the Independent spoke favourably of the ballet, called it “thoughtful, ambitious and vividly danced”. Stagefreight were proud to work on this show; you can read more about our work in our case study on the show.

Ed Sheeran Divide Tour

Halifax lad Ed Sheeran was 2018’s highest grossing artist, selling 4.86 million tickets over the year. His Divide tour—which wrapped up this year—was similarly impressive, with some hugely anticipated gigs amongst them.

Highlights included a two-day appearance at Leeds’ Roundhay Park, which saw 150,000 fans attend. The tour wrapped up at Ipswich, which has been Ed’s home for the last several years. His appearance in Germany also broke a record—it is now the biggest, most attended and highest grossing tour the world has ever seen. We can’t wait to see what he does next.

KISS End of the Road World Tour

American rock sensation KISS has hit seventh place in NME’s top 25 highest-grossing tours of 2019. They’ve also been featured as one of this year’s most anticipated tours by Consequence of Sound. Now the legendary band is (allegedly) bowing out for good with their ambitious End of the Road World Tour.

Running over two continents and 65 dates, KISS’ tour will take to the stage in places like San Diego, Milan and even Manchester. Their final appearance will be at New York City in 2021.

KISS aren’t the only ones to embark on a farewell tour recently. Singing sensation Joan Baez has also embarked on her own farewell tour, which you can read about in our case study.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Giselle

First performed in 1841, Giselle is one of the world’s most celebrated ballets. It follows a woman called Giselle, who takes her own life when she discovers Loys, her beloved, has lied to her. Later unmasked as Count Albrecht, he must count on Giselle’s love to save him from the wrath of the dead.

Birmingham Royal Ballet have brought a new production of the show to life, while staying true to the spirit of the original. David Bintley and Galina Samsova oversaw the ballet’s production, while Marius Pepita, Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and David Bintley collaborated on the choreography. The show also featured music by Adolphe Adam, designs by Hayden Griffin and lighting by Mark Jonathan. The result is a show that’s sure to linger in the memories of everyone who saw it!

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road

Farewell tours seem to be a bit of a running theme this year. Elton John joins the likes of KISS and Joan Baez with his own farewell tour, which is running until 2021.

With a career spanning decades and over half a century on the road Elton John has redefined the cultural landscape, claiming his place as a true global icon. His farewell tour comprises more than 300 shows across five continents, taking in North America, Europe, the Middle East and many other locales.

Elton is also on track to break a record of his own; NME reports he’s responsible for the highest-grossing world tour of 2019. If you’re an Elton fan, this is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss!

Dear Evan Hansen

This multi award-winning musical tells the story of a high school student riddled with anxiety. He finds himself in hot water when a lie he tells about a classmate spirals horribly out of control.

First performed in 2015, Dear Evan Hansen made its West End debut this year. WhatsOnStage praised the show, saying it was “a desperately powerful exploration of a troubled teen sacrificing the truth for a sense of comfort”. If you’d like to see it for yourself, Dear Evan Hansen is running until the end of May 2020.

P!NK Beautiful Trauma Tour

Since appearing in the mid-90s, Pink has gone from strength to strength as an artist. However, her last tour was back in 2013, making any new tour a treat for Pink fans. Her Beautiful Trauma Tour started in 2018, and came to Europe for 27 separate performances.

Pink is this year’s second highest-grossing artist; according to NME, only Elton John has been more successful. Her new tour was so popular that a raft of new dates were added to the schedule.

It also received great reviews; the Guardian’s Sophie Williams said Pink “condenses the energy of an entire tour into a single show that’s a riot of circus athleticism and crowd-pleasing hits.” The Express’ Stefan Kyriazis was similarly impressed, saying “zooming across the entire crowd on high wires at terrifying speed and heights she literally filled the stadium like no-one else AND still sounded incredible”.

Some of 2020’s music and stage tours

It’s safe to say 2019 will be a tough year for music and stage tours to beat. Still, if these early announcements are any indication, 2020 is going to give it a run for its money.

BBC’s The Upstart Crow

Hit Shakespearean sitcom Upstart Crow is appearing onstage for the first time. The TV show first appeared in 2016, and sees a fictionalised Shakespeare (played by Peep Show‘s David Mitchell) prepare to stage Romeo and Juliet for the first time. Its title comes from the works of Robert Greene, a fellow playwright and (resentful) contemporary of Shakespeare.

Now Ben Elton, the original creator, is continuing the story in a new stage production. David Mitchell returns to reprise his role as Shakespeare, as well as Game of Thrones star Gemma Whelan. Sean Foley, two-time Olivier Award winner, will be directing. Fans of the show can see it at London’s Gielgud Theatre; it’s booking until the 25th of April, 2020.

Liam Gallagher’s homecoming show

Oasis star Liam Gallagher has announced a huge homecoming show on Friday the 12th of June, 2020. Taking place in Manchester’s Heaton Park, he’ll be joined by an as-yet unknown host of special guests.

Liam is doing very well for himself; he’s hit No. 1 on the UK album chart with his new solo album Why Me?, and he’s recently completed an 11-date sold out UK tour. The release of tickets for his Heaton Park show led to “Heaton Park” trending on Twitter within the hour.

Adele’s 2020 tour

Rumours about Adele’s 2020 activity are in full swing at the moment. She’s announced a new album that we’re likely to get before Christmas. However, we haven’t received an official release date yet. We’ve also received tour dates for 2020 in the USA, though we’re still waiting on UK and Europe ones.

It’s safe to say we aren’t the only ones wondering what Adele will do next. The star has sold over 60 million albums worldwide, with her second album, 21, the biggest-selling album of the 21st century. As such, a new tour from this singing sensation will be greatly welcomed.

Opera North’s Street Scene

Opera North are kicking off 2020 with a award-winning production called Street Scene. First performed in 1947, it tells the story of a New York family pushed to breaking point by changing times, hope for a better life, and a terrible, destructive secret. Highlights of the soundtrack include ‘Lonely House’ and ‘Moon-Faced, Starry-Eyed’, with the production winning Best Original Score at the original Tony Awards.

Theatre fans can see Street Scene in Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham and Salford Quays. A co-production with Theater Magdeburg, this show is directed by Matthew Eberhardt and choreographed by Gary Clarke. James Holmes is conducting the music, with Howard Hudson and Francis O’Connor handling lighting and set & costume design respectively. Read more about the show at the Opera North website.

Billie Eilish—Where Do We Go

Running between March and July 2020, Billie Eilish’s new music tour runs over 45 shows. Fans in Europe and the UK can see her from July; her UK shows will be the first since her appearances at Glastonbury and the Leeds & Reading Festival.

Europe and UK dates

10 July 2020 Algés, Portugal, NOS Alive (festival)

13 July 2020 Amsterdam, Netherlands, Ziggo Dome

14 July 2020 Berlin, Germany, Mercedes-Benz Arena

15 July 2020 Cologne, Germany, Lanxess Arena

17 July 2020 Milano, Italy, MIND (Area Expo) (festival)

18 July 2020 Paris, France, Lollapalooza (festival)

19 July 2020 Werchter, Belgium, Werchter Boutique (festival)

21 July 2020 Manchester Arena

22 July 2020 Manchester Arena

24 July 2020 Arena Birmingham

26 July 2020 London, The O2

27 July 2020  London, The O2

29 July 2020 London, The O2

30 July 2020 London, The O2

English National Ballet | Derek Dean’s Swan Lake In-The-Round

Running from the 17th to the 28th of June at the Royal Albert Hall, this ambitious production features 120 performers and live music by the English National Ballet Philharmonic. Since its premiere in 1997, over half a million people have enjoyed the show. Will you enjoy it next year?

Derek Deane is the creative talent behind the show’s direction and choreography, the features music by the famous Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Peter Farmer is responsible for the show’s design, and Howard Harrison is behind the lighting. Read more about the show at the official site.

The Curtain Falls

Though 2019 is coming to a close, there’s plenty in store for 2020’s fans of music and stage tours. If you’re an organiser looking for music and concert transportation, why not get in touch with one of the best music transport companies around?

Stagefreight is one event and music transport company that never misses its cue. Our experienced lead driver will oversee all trailer arrivals, and plan cost-effective, fuel-efficient routes to every venue. We can help with lighting choices and build the stage alongside your own team. We can also cater for tours of any size, from the smallest to the largest, and ensure everything arrives when it’s supposed to.

Read more about our live services (including examples of our work with clients) or give us a call on 0113 797 898.








There’s something about stage transport

We’re passionate about all things theatre, music, ballet and event transport. But there’s always something special when it comes to stage transport.

We’re having a closer look at what new team members can expect when completing stage transport services.

We’ll also have a closer look at some of the 2018 stage transport highlights from across genres.

The 101 of stage transport

Step 1: Get the details

A crucial part of stage transport is finding out the full brief. Step one is therefore to always find out what equipment is involved, what size, how to handle the equipment (as you’ll see in the 2018 highlights, there can be some surprises when it comes to stage props) and what the full tour details are.

Step 2: Equipment planning

Once you know what’s on tour, it’s time to finalise which trailer and how many trailers you’ll need. For regular urban destinations, we recommend the Stagefreight urban trailer; it can handle the same amount of equipment, but has a smaller overall size making it ideal for city venues. This step is also where that detail insight will come in handy, as any additions for handling the equipment safely can be factored in.

Stagefreight truck at Lyceum Theatre
ready for our cue

Step 3: Team planning

You’ve got the detail, and you know what’s needed, so now it’s time to assemble your team. They’re not quite the Avengers (though they’re pretty close in our book), but if you need an extra hand the Stagefreight team helps each other out – no matter the challenge or the destination.

Step 4: Route planning

Once the team size is under wraps it’s time to plan the best routes for the tour. Our team is experienced in leading fleets of different sizes and can adapt to a variety of timing requirements.

Step 5: Timing checks

Which brings us to step 5. – never missing a cue. Just like on stage, we plan and manage the stage transport so well that no one ever misses their cue.

The above points are a broad breakdown of what to expect from stage transport jobs. The exciting thing about working in stage transport is that you never know what the next job is going to be.

To give some more context to this, here are some exciting stage highlights from the year that was.

Stage design highlights of 2018

Previous years saw paddling pools used on stage by Beyoncé and Rammstein using a fiery cauldron. And who could forget the Miley Cyrus tongue slide ? (Though many may well be trying to do so).

The world of stage events always has something new to offer, so here’s a collection of stages that wowed and awed the audience in 2018. They also represent an interesting challenge to the stage transport industry.

1.U2 Experience and Innocence Tour

U2 is famous for their imagination when it comes to their tours, and the Experience and Innocence Tour is no exception.

The stage design features a 29-metre long LED video screen, which is double-sided, and the band can actually climb inside it.

The screen is known as the “barricage” and brings the audience even deeper into the experience.

This stage technology is also connected to augmented reality; audience members are actively encouraged to get their mobiles out to view a virtual version of Bono himself emerge during “Love Is All We Have Left”.

2.Eurovision 2018

Florian Wieder, who took inspiration from Portugal’s historic connection with the sea, created the stage design for 2018’s Eurovision. The set represents a wave, as well as the hull of a ship.

While this was a stunning design, the performance by Moldova continues to grab attention due to the intricate choreography and unique use of stage props. It just proves that timing truly is everything.

3.Burberry Catwalk Show

As part of London’s 2018 Fashion Week, United Visual Artists created an archway of light for the Burberry catwalk.

Models walked beneath the prismatic light installation that represented LGBTQ+ communities around the world.

rainbow LED lasers Photo by Aditya Chinchure on Unsplash
rainbow LED lasers

The overall light show also paid homage to creative director Christopher Bailey, who was leaving his role at Burberry after 17 years.

The installation was made of 3,000 rainbow-hued lasers. Now that’s a lot of lasers.

See the laser archway in all it’s colourful glory on

4. Drake’s tour

Canadian rapper Drake’s latest tour of 2018 was packed with the latest technology and stage design trends.

The “super democratic” tour had a variety of visual tricks including 200 drones, a LED stage floor that transforms into a scorpion to pay homage to the rapper’s latest album, and a flying Ferrari.

Yellow Ferrari Photo by Dexter Flexter on Unsplash
ready to take off …sort of

An interesting part of this stage design is that it’s based on a basketball court, meaning the audience surrounds the LED floor from all four sides. This also posed a challenge to Drake, as he was completely surrounded by his fans and needed to provide a 360 performance.

To see the exclusive stage images, visit

5. Swan Lake Reimagined

It’s been 30 years since Swan Lake was last developed for the stage. The team at the Royal Opera House took on the challenge of reimagining this ballet classic in 2018.

Previously Anthony Dowell’s production was the staple for Tschaikovsky’s Swan Lake, but choreographer, Liam Scarlett, and designer, John MacFarlane, took on the challenge of a new interpretation in 2018.

Part of the reimagining was to create an entire new Act IV and to interpret the ending into a more bittersweet version as envisioned by Scarlett.

The costume choices –classic tutus over the previously used long skirted dresses- were a homage to the classic ballet origin associated with Swan Lake and weren’t the only considerations setting the scene for the return of Swan Lake.

The set design was created to ensure the mood of the ballet came across with particular focus being put into the landscape background.

In June 2018, the production was even broadcast live across the world via BP Big Screens.

Here’s a look at how the design was achieved:

The reviews of the production included praise for the tutu choice and overall costume-designs, the use of dry ice for the lake scene and the first-rate performances by the dancers.

We firmly believe that there’s something truly magical about the stage and stage transport. There may well be something about Mary, but there’s certainly something about stage transport in our books.

Why not have a closer look at some of our previous transport work in our case studies?

Or if you’ve got a show to put on the road, contact our team on 013 238 0805 to arrange your stage transport today.