The best gigs, concerts and live performances in Leeds | May 2022

What’s on this month at City Varieties, First Direct Arena, O2 Academy, The Wardrobe and more.

The ultimate guide to Leeds’ music scene.

The music scene in Leeds has finally returned to its pre-pandemic schedule. From intimate gigs inside secret speakeasy bars to sell-out pop concerts at the First Direct arena where some of the world’s biggest artists are belting lyrics to the low hum of the crowd, every night there’s endless live music options available.

Rounding up the best of what’s on in the city isn’t an easy task- especially when we only have space for ten artists to feature, but we hope to make this a regular feature where we bring you the best concerts in the city every single month.

Keep reading to find out where you can catch the likes of Blondie Gregory Porter, Kate Nash and more across Leeds throughout May 2022.

Blondie with special guest Johnny Marr

Wednesday 4 May 2022 | First Direct Arena, Arena Way

Image: Wikicommons

The world-famous Debbie Harry will be performing in Leeds this week for what’s set to be a legendary performance like no other. Performing as a band since 1974, Blondie will be joined by the former guitarist for the likes of The Smiths, The Cribs and The Pretenders, Johnny Marr for the Against The Odds tou. Marr features on Blondie’s 2017 album Pollinator so we’re hoping to see live performances that allow all of the musicians to feature on the stage at the same time- fingers crossed.

When: Wednesday 4 May 2022

Where: First Direct Arena, Arena Way

Tickets: Most of the tickets for this event have sold out, but seats still remain available to book. Tickets start at £63.60 each and are available on the Ticketmaster website.

Find out more here.


Saturday 7 May 2022 | O2 Academy, Cookridge Street

man by a dj set.
Image: Bonobo

Fans of the electro musician have been waiting a long time for this one. Showcasing explorative performances of Bonobo’s music new and old, this Leeds concert will give gig-goers a rare opportunity to listen to sounds spanning across the musician’s entire career.

Doors open at 6pm on Saturday 7 May 2022 with a curfew of 10pm and support from up-and-coming artist Jacques Greene. If you can’t make it to the Leeds performance, fans will have the chance to catch Bonobo in Nottingham on the Sunday or at his five-day stint at the Royal Albert Hall in London the following week before the electro-artist heads across the channel to embark on the European stint of his world tour.

When: Saturday 7 May 2022

Where: O2 Academy, Cookridge Street

Tickets: This event has now sold out, but you can join the waiting list for tickets on the Metropolis Music website.

Find out more here.

Gregory Porter

Saturday 7 May 2022 | First Direct Arena, Arena Way

Gregory Porter on stage.
Image: Gregory Porter Music

Grammy-award winnning singer, songwriter and actor Gregory Porter is taking over Leeds’ largest music venue for one night only. Described by The New York Times as  “a jazz singer of thrilling presence, a booming baritone with a gift for earthy refinement and soaring uplift”, fans of Porter’s calming jazz tunes and melodic beats should look forward to a musical journey from the artist’s debut album, Liquid Spirit right up to the most recent lockdown-released albums All Rise and Still Rising- The Collection.

When: Saturday 7 May 2022

Where: First Direct Arena

Tickets: From £49.10, tickets are still available on Ticketmaster. This is a rescheduled show so any tickets from the original 2021 date will still be valid at this event.

Find out more here.

Kae Tempest

Wednesday 11 May 2022 | Stylus, Leeds University Union

Kae Tempest with album.
Image: Kae Tempest

Playwright, poet and spoken word artist: Kae Tempest has spent their entire career since leaving school at 16 to the power of words. Spoken in hushed, but powerful tones at venues across the UK, Kae is quickly emerging as one of the UK’s most recognised performing artists. Drawing crowds in at Leeds’ own Leeds Festival and Glastonbury, Kae is now touring across the UK and making the Stylus at Leeds University one of their stops. Breaking down big political concepts like identity, consumerism and poverty into poetry, this will be one that leaves you with some food for thought.

When: Wednesday 11 May 2022

Where: Stylus, Leeds University Union

Tickets: £27.50 including a £2.50 booking fee.

Find out more here.

Chris Rock

Saturday 14 May 2022 | First Direct Arena, Arena Way

Chris Rick headshot.
Image: First Direct Arena

Okay so this might not be your typical concert, but as far as live performances go, this is going to be one of the hottest of the year. Straight of the back of that Oscars joke, Chris Rock is touring around the world to perform his set, Ego Death to the masses. As a phone-free show, all mobile devices have to be secured in Yondr pouches and will be unlocked after the show has ended- so we’re assuming nothing will be off limits during this performance.

When: Saturday 14 May 2022

Where: First Direct Arena, Arena Way

Tickets: Tickets are available on Ticketmaster via resale and start at £42.55 each.

Find out more here.

The Charlatans

Sunday 15 May 2022 | O2 Academy, Cookridge Street

Old photo of The Charlatans band.
Image: The Charlatans

The Charlatans is celebrating 30 years of alt rock music in the best way possible: by throwing a huge birthday tour. Expect Tim Burgess to reminisce on the hundreds of concerts that band have played, as well as paying tribute to every member of the band, former and present that’s led to their discovery and allowing them to leave their mark on the UK music scene. Taking on the 2,300 small venue, A Head Full of Ideas is expected to form the base of the setlist, but this will be a monumental occasion for any fan of the band with performances of classic tunes past to present.

When: Sunday 15 May 2022

Where: O2 Academy, Cookridge Street

Tickets: Ticketmaster Resale is providing the final batch of tickets, priced at either £23 for balcony unreseved or £34.50 for standing.

Find out more here.

Novo Amor

Saturday 21 May 2022 | City Varieties Music Hall, Swan Street

Person sat down with album in front of face.
Image: Novo Amor

There’a few people with more honest, raw lyrics than Ali Lacey, aka Novo Amor. Regularly featured on Spotify’s ‘Most Beautiful Songs in the World’ playlist, the singer-songwriter started his career as an ‘act of defiance after a breakup’ and four years later is taking a step away from his part-home, part-studio base in Cardiff to perform in cities across the UK. Leeds’ City Varieties hosts an intimate 460 people, making this one of the cosiest performances this month- an ideal Saturday date night for those looking for a sit down event and soft melodies to lose yourself in.

When: Saturday 21 May 2022

Where: City Varieties Music Hall, Swan Street

Tickets: All stall, circle and upper circle tickets cost £19.60 and are available to purchase from the Leeds Heritage Theatres website.

Find out more here.


Saturday 21 May 2022 | The Refectory, Leeds University

Marina with a microphone.
Image: Marina

Remember Marina from Marina and the Diamonds? The Welsh singer-songwriter has been graciously offering the world electro-pop beats since 2005 and CDs were available. Since 2018, she’s operated as a solo artist under the name Marina- and will be bringing 17 years of harmonies to Leeds’ Refectory this month. Focusing on promoting her latest album, Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land, Marina’s fifth studio album will feature alongside older tunes from her 2019 album, Love + Fear, as well as her best known hits like How To Be A Heartbreaker and Primadonna.

When: Saturday 21 May 2022

Where: The Refectory, Leeds University Union

Tickets: £35.20 per ticket, including a £3.20 booking fee

Find out more here.

Emeli Sandé

Saturday 28 May 2022 | City Varieties Music Hall, Swan Street

Emeli Sande sat in a chair.
Image: Emeli Sandé

Emeli Sandé is bringing an intimate acoustic piano show to City Varieties to celebrate her forthcoming album, Let’s Say For Instance. As her first release on an independent label, Sandé’s powerful voice is exploring new ‘sonic territory’ by combining her best known soulful performances with classical, disco, nostalgic R&B genres. Having remained a strong player in the music industry since releasing her first album Our Version of Events almost ten years ago, the four-time BRIT award winner is expected to take her performances to an entirely new level during her 2022 tours- and we can’t wait to see it.

When: Saturday 28 May 2022

Where: City Varieties, Swan Street

Tickets: Stalls and circle and upper circle, from £34-£37 and available on the Leeds Heritage Theatres website.

Find out more here.

Kate Nash

Tuesday 31 May 2022 | The Wardrobe, St Peter’s Square

Image: Kate Nash

Still best known for her 2007 tunes, Kate Nash has long been an indie-pop icon known across Britain for her famous lines about bad relationships: “I’d rather be with your friends, mate, ‘Cause they are much fitter“. According to Big Issue North, the Foundations singer-songwriter has been writing horror fiction, working on a musical and made a documentary, all in addition to her day job of performing over the past few years. Now on the cusp of releasing her fifth studio album, Nine Sad Symphonies, Nash is taking to the stage here in Leeds to perform all things new and old before the Jubilee bank holiday weekend.

When: Tuesday 31 May 2022

Where: The Wardrobe, St Peter’s Square

Tickets: All tickets cost £24.75 each, including a £2.75 booking fee, and are available on The Wardrobe website.

Find out more here.

Read More: Stormzy returns to Leeds after two years for highly-anticipated Heavy is the Head tour

Feature Image- First Direct Arena

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