The best pop and rock gigs of Christmas 2016 – from Madness to the Chemical Brothers

The Nutty Boys and the oldest raver in town pull out all the stops for a seasonal smackdown

Fatboy Slim
The O2, London

Ageing ravers will be out in force as one of the biggest stars of the 90s returns to the stage for a pre-Christmas arena show, although Es are likely to be less prevalent than 20 years ago, given the need to be in a sensible state to return to the babysitter. Expect a spectacular that will make you want to dance your feet off so energetically that you will be doubly grateful to get a seat on public transport on the way home.
17 December,

Bournemouth International Centre, then touring

Yes, they are promoting a new album, so there will be a chunk of that in the set, but for a Christmas party set to music there’s no surer bet than Madness. Their unimpeachable back catalogue means that, once the new songs are out of the way, you’ll get singalong after singalong in an atmosphere of pretty much unconstrained joy. There’s a reason Madness remain one of the most loved groups British pop has produced – it’s the timeless perfection of that run of 80s singles they see no shame in revisiting.
1 December, then touring until 17 December,

The Human League
Royal Festival Hall, London, then touring

Celebrate one of the greatest of all Christmas No 1s, Don’t You Want Me, when the League bring their synthesisers to town. These days, they’re definitely regarded as an important group – features in Mojo, career-spanning reissues – but you’re more likely to want to see them live because they have one of the great British pop songbooks. Chances are, scores of couples will turn to each other and sing along: “I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, that much is true …”
13 December, then touring until 16 December,

Kurupt FM present Champagne Steam Rooms
Brixton Academy, London

The stars of BBC’s People Just Do Nothing – the comedy mockumentary about the hapless “stars” of a pirate radio station in the west London suburbs – also put on their own shows, playing grime and garage to the very people they affectionately send up. There will be an array of guest stars, among them many of the big names of UK underground dance music. Hopefully there will be the chance to hear MC Grindah intone: “Bang! Lyrical blow to the jaw”. And maybe, by now, the Kurupt crew will have written a second half to their signature tune.
17 December,

Korn and Limp Bizkit
Manchester Arena, then touring

Nu metal may have been the most derided of musical forms, but it never lost its audience – hence the fact that this tour is playing to arenas rather than theatres. And now, perhaps, the critical pendulum is swinging slowly in its favour. Metal has never been afraid to party, and this tour by two of the titans of nu metal is likely to generate plenty of festive spirit, even if the songs are notably short on elves, reindeer, goodwill to all men or the wish for peace on earth.
12 December, then touring until 19 December,

Champagne Steam Rooms with Kurupt FM crew
Champagne Steam Rooms with Kurupt FM crew Photograph: PR Company Handout

• This article was amended on 5 January 2016. An earlier version said it was the silver jubilee of The Human League’s Christmas No 1, Don’t You Want Me. The song was No 1 35 years ago.


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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