The sundown edit: The best tracks to listen to as the sun sets

From festivals to gigs or simply hanging out with friends, there’s nothing like listening to music as the sun goes down. Here music correspondent Roisin O’Connor shares her most memorable moments and the perfect playlist to enjoy during your own golden hour...

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 11 July 2022 12:46 BST
Enjoy a summer making amazing musical memories with friends and loved ones
Enjoy a summer making amazing musical memories with friends and loved ones (San Miguel)

There’s something transcendent about watching live music as the sun goes down. Perhaps it’s that mingling of one of nature’s most mesmerising spectacles with the giddy rush of a truly astounding performance – and the bittersweet knowledge that the day is almost over. Whether you’re on a rooftop terrace, careening around a festival field or sitting with the sand between your toes on a beachside bar: nothing beats the soundtrack that closes out a long summer’s day.

Most of my favourite musical memories have taken place at sunset. There was The National’s set at Ypisgrock Festival in Sicily, where I sat in the courtyard of a medieval castle, bathed in resplendent red and gold beams while Matt Berginer crooned to Light Years.

I celebrated my birthday in 2018 at Nos Alive in Lisbon, Portugal, jamming to a cover of Rockin’ in the Free World with Pearl Jam and Jack White as the light rippled across the surface of the Tejo river.

On a hotel rooftop in Ibiza, I sipped cold beer and snacked on fat green olives to the kaleidoscopic sounds of the best club tunes. While closer to home, at Somerset House’s annual Summer Series – the sky awash with soft pinks and pastel blues – I swayed along to Laura Mvula’s sublime performance of Green Garden.

Cheers to long summer evenings with friends (San Miguel)

Plenty of artists have found inspiration in sunsets, too. Some find it makes them think of the loved ones who are no longer with us, like Frank Ocean with Pink + White. For others, like LA duo Emotional Oranges, it’s a chance to revel in the nostalgia of first kisses, parties on the beach, and hazy summer evenings that seemed to go on forever.

To celebrate these beautiful memories, I’ve put together a playlist of sundown tunes for you and friends to enjoy. Cheers!

God of the Sunsets – SEB

LA artist SEB’s sun-drenched indie-pop makes you want to grab a surfboard and catch some waves. Or, if that’s not your thing, kick back on the sand and grab a beer with some friends. “There’s something beautiful, yet so tragic about sunsets,” he’s said of his songwriting. “For a short moment at the end of the day, the sky is lit up with brilliance while counting down to darkness at the same time. I try to capture that feeling whenever I write music.”

Pink + White – Frank Ocean

Talk about bittersweet. Frank Ocean’s song evokes the way sunsets can bring memories to the surface. A lilting piano motif rocks back and forth; a bass hook meanders as if lost in thought. It’s a song that makes you feel grateful to be alive, here to witness another turn of the Earth.

West Coast Love – Emotional Oranges

The perfect song to unwind to, West Coast Love is an early single from enigmatic California duo Emotional Oranges. It’s delivered over lush beats, a langorous bass groove, and dreamy vocals: ‘Can we take it back to the Bay when we bounced/ To the sound of my favourite band playing?’

Music Takes Me Up – Mr Scruff ft Alison Russell

The sun goes down, but the music takes us higher. This classic from producer Mr Scruff’s 2008 album Ninja Tuna stars the powerhouse vocals of British soul singer Alice Russell.

Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks

This tongue-in-cheek number from 1966 tells the woeful tale of an aristocrat fallen on hard times. ‘My girlfriend’s run off with my car/ And gone back to her ma and pa’ Ray Davies mourns. What else is there to do but head out to the garden and make the most of a sunny afternoon?

One Love – Nas ft Q-Tip

One of the best cuts from possibly the greatest debut album of all time, One Love was inspired by Bob Marley’s track of the same name. Its sampling of the sunny marimba sound is at odds with the grit in the lyrics, offering the perfect soundtrack for those deep conversations that last long after the sun’s gone down.

Watermelon Sugar – Harry Styles

Over warm electric guitar twangs, Harry Styles captures the playfulness of a summer’s day. The big brass flourishes, evocative visuals – ‘Strawberries on a summer evenin’/ Baby, you’re the end of June’ – and uplifting chorus make this an essential sunset jam.

To celebrate sunny days, warmer evenings and sharing it all with friends, San Miguel is once again hosting its summer bar at London’s scenic Somerset House. With its stunning riverside location and view of the iconic London skyline, the Somerset House Terrace Bar with San Miguel is the perfect spot to relax and unwind, and enjoy an ice-cold beer, delicious tapas, and live music experiences at sundown. San Miguel are also partners across a number of incredible musical events throughout the summer: at the annual Summer Series at Somerset house, you can enjoy a San Miguel while you rock out to Black Midi (13 July), enjoy the luscious indie of Arlo Parks (12 July), grab some grime at Ghett’s set (14 July), get down to disco with SG Lewis (15 July), party to perfect pop with Carly Rae Jepsen (11 July) and Mabel (17 July), and enjoy the soulful vibes of John Legend (16 July). At Wilderness Festival from 4-7 August you can share a beer at sundown and indulge in the idyllic surrounds of Cornbury Park , Oxfordshire, listening to Years and Years, Jungle and Underworld. While at Classic Ibiza you can enjoy music from the White Isle reinvented by the Urban Soul Orchestra, live vocalists and headline DJs in breathtaking stately surrounds including Ragley Hall, Warwickshire (1 and 2 July), Weston Park, Shropshire (16 July), Bowood House, Wiltshire, (22 and 23 July), Burghley House, Lincolnshire (30 July) Blickling Estate in Norfolk (6 August) and Hatfield House, Hertfordshire (20 August). To find out more visit @sanmiguel_uk

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