The return of Daylight Music

The last 18 months have been traumatic for many. With the tragic loss of loved ones, long term illnesses, unemployment and mental heath issues caused by successive lockdowns. Keeping many of us going was the idea of being able to return to a reasonable level of normality and pick up the things we loved doing. Daylight Music, was one of mine.

As we’re emerging into the real world, we’re finding many of our favourite things didn’t survive the financial hardship and our high streets are full of closed bars, cafes and shops. Despite some government support after excellent lobbying from the Music Venue Trust, we’ve even lost some music venues.

But there was something missing from governments support, support for promoters and music art series that weren’t being supported via the Arts Council funding or the venue support scheme.

I’ve written about my love of the Daylight Music series and how much I enjoy photographing events. Before lockdown, the series took place at the Union Chapel, who allowed the event to use it’s space for about 30 weekends a year. During lockdown, the Union Chapel charity disappointingly decided it would no longer be able to support the event. I suspect they’re looking at the opportunities for holding revenue generating events such as weddings. As a charity, it’s understandable that they will need to boost income after a year without the evening music events that support its activities. But I was really sad when it looked like Daylight might not continue and with it, I’d lose a large part of the structure of my weekends and have one less thing to look forward to. But it’s also a unique and vital part of London’s music scene.

Sadly, this left Daylight without a home and no easy way of applying for funds. So last summer, Daylight set up a Crowdfunder to generate the upfront income they would need to try to put this on at new venues. Important to Daylight, was to try to stay true to it’s principles of creating a welcoming space where people can ‘pay what they can’ and come along, relax with tea and cake and listen to an amazing range of music genres.

Thankfully, the Crowdfunder was successful. It was great to see how many other people agreed with me that Daylight is worth saving. The funding has allowed Ben Eshmade, the force behind the series, find new homes, (yes plural!) book artists and source sound systems. It’s all change as almost everything will now have to be done by the team of volunteers, even keeping true to the ‘tea and cake’ tag line means sourcing food and running a cafe (previously run by the Union Chapel’s Margins Project)

After many months of trying to piece together the programme and delayed reopenings, this weekend finally sees the return of Daylight Music with the fantastic Matthew Bourne. There’s some necessary changes such as the recommendation for ‘pay what you can’ to be £10 as the series has to now generate the income to book future events. But it’s also an opportunity to try new things. The most obvious innovation is that it’s now going to move home between three venues, bringing Daylight to new areas of London. But there’s other innovations such as a Season ticket and as the venues are smaller than the previous home, booking in advance. I can’t wait to see what the Daylight team come up with.

This week’s venue, St John on Bethnal Green, probably won’t be a new venue to regular gig goers as it’s often used for evening gigs. It’s a lovely, 200 year old, Sir John Sloane designed church, just outside of Bethnal Green tube station. I’ve always found it to have beautiful acoustics and is utterly charming. I’m sure Matthew Bourne’s piano will sound glorious.

Staying true to Daylight’s principles of easing your guilt for indulging in cake at lunchtime. Much of the cafe food will be provided by the nearby ‘The Beehive’ cafe which is part of the Bethnal Green Mission Church.

Following weeks, Daylight heads off to St John The Baptist’s Church, Leytonstone and then Grand Junction, a new venue based at St Mary Magdalene Church in Paddington. I can’t wait to photograph music in these new venues. One of the other Daylight photographers has visited them and they all look fantastic.

It all sounds exciting and I can’t wait. It will be so good to finally put back a piece of the jigsaw of my pre-pandemic life and great to see an important piece of London’s music scene return. If you’ve not been to a Daylight Music event. What better time to start?


There’s three new venues for this season.

St John on Bethnal Green
200 Cambridge Heath Rd, Bethnal Green

St John’s Leytonstone
High Rd, Bushwood, London E11 1HH

Grand Junction
Rowington Cl, London W2 5TF


11 SEP
334: Hi, How Have You Been? with Run Logan Run, WSR Redux, Charlotte Keeffe & Matthew Bourne
Daylight Music – St John on Bethnal Green

25 SEP
335: Metamorphosis & Transmutation with Elliot Galvin, Yshani Perinpanayagam + Kerry Yong
Daylight Music – St John The Baptist’s Church, Leytonstone

16 OCT
336: …a Sense of Belonging with Bex Burch & Kim Macari, Maria Grapsa + Ell Kendall
Daylight Music – Grand Junction at St Mary Magdalene’s

30 OCT
337: A Lost Year with Késia Decoté & Charlotte Botterill, Plumm & Marysia Osu + School of Noise
Daylight Music – St John’s Leytonstone

13 NOV
338: EFG London Jazz Festival – Daylight Music: Terry Edwards with the Near Jazz Experience, Jan Goodkin & Road Melvin, Jem Moore, + Bag THE NEAR JAZZ EXPERIENCE, JAN GOODKIN & ROAD MELVIN, JEM MOORE + BAG
Daylight Music – St John on Bethnal Green

20 NOV
339: EFG London Jazz Festival – Daylight Music: Hackoustic presents Luka,XYZ & Aby Vulliamy, Alya Al-Sultani & Gawain Hewitt, Tom Fox and Samuel Sharp
Daylight Music – St John The Baptist’s Church, Leytonstone

340: London Dreamtime presents Baba Yaga or Can Fairy Tales Be True?
Daylight Music – Grand Junction at St Mary Magdalene’s

11 DEC
341: Lost Christmas: Dude, Where’s My Card?
With Pictish Trail, Molly Linen And Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business.
Daylight Music – St John on Bethnal Green