Vanity Project

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2014: 30 gig salute

The customary end of year list of the finest and most exhilarating live sets witnessed during the preceeding twelve months. By my reckoning, I saw 329 ‘sets’ (if not the entire set, then a good sized chunk) by 293 bands in 2014, here’s the very best 30 of those.

Neneh Cherry @ Field Day 2014

Neneh Cherry @ Field Day 2014

1: Neneh Cherry & Rocketnumbernine.
Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms (February)
Tinkering with various collaborations in the last decade, the Blank Project record made in collaboration with Walthamstow duo Rocketnumbernine has very much shone the spotlight back on Neneh Cherry. It’s been a long time since her two pockets of Top 40 fame, but this record allows Neneh to exercise new creative muscles, rather than rest on laurels. The record is very good indeed, but this last-minute free show in Portsmouth ahead of the tour proper beefed up the sound from ‘stimulating’ to ‘completely irresistible’. NOTE: If anything her set at Field Day was of equal stature, energy and excitement to this, but the element of ‘surprise’ wins it for Portsmouth. Either way Neneh Cherry & Rocketnumbernine were packing the thrills in 2014.

2: Human Hair. Soho Madame JoJo’s (July)
Never easy for a band playing after the ‘main attraction’ of a night. Still, even though most of the crowd cleared out after Tricot’s splendid set, Human Hair’s commitment to wild, giddy abandon despite it all was a joy to behold. Reminded me of the first time I saw Earl Brutus, at Phoenix Festival in 1997. Which is high praise indeed.

3: Gallon Drunk. Islington Lexington (April)
The four minutes of Bad Servant are so electrifying, so exciting, so explosive, it kind of doesn’t really matter how well the rest of the gig around it went. As it happens it went very well. Plus it was my birthday, I can’t think of more exhilarating way to top it off than be down front watching James Johnston in full flow.

4: Gene Clark No Other Band. End of the Road @ Larmer Tree Gardens (August)
Wall-to-wall star names of modern Americana in this super group paying tribute to Gene Clark’s lost 70’s classic LP ‘No Other’. Iain Matthews (ex-Fairport Convention), Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen), Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes), Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear), Cricket Arrison, Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak), Victoria Legrand (Beach House) and Tony Drummond (Celebration) all on hand to provide lead or backing vox. Four bassists gave the title track some impressive welly, but it was Robin Pecknold’s vocals on ‘Strength of Strings’ that impressed the most. Astonishing to get all of the component parts of this band together on this side of the Atlantic.

Human Hair @ Madame JoJos

Human Hair @ Madame JoJos

5: Thee Oh Sees. Shoreditch Ace Hotel (August)
The last minute cancellation of the Jabberwocky Festival had the potential to be a weekend ruiner. However with all the replacement gigs that were hastily put together I was able to see Thee Oh Sees twice in a weekend. One of my favourite live bands of the past two years (see previous lists), this was a real treat. While the Saturday night in the 600 capacity Higbury Garage was good, the following night in the much smaller, low-ceilinged basement of the Ace Hotel was the real deal. Electrifying, magnificent; felt like ‘a happening’. Great times.

6: Janelle Monáe. Brixton Academy (May)
Live music usually gets flattened out on television. Not so Janelle Monáe’s Glastonbury set in 2011 which bowled me over, particularly as I’d not been familiar with her work before. Nearly three years later, finally getting the chance to see her incredible live turn in the flesh could have been anti-climactic but it was, as anticipated, a tour de force.

7: Future Islands. Field Day @ Victoria Park (June)
One of the years buzz bands due to their performance on Letterman going viral and it’s clear a great many in the filled-well-beyond-capacity tent here at Field Day are here mostly to see ‘the moves’. I first saw them in 2009 and remember them playing to about 40 people at the Brighton Freebutt. I retain a major soft spot for them despite the fact neither of their subsequent albums has come close to touching 2010’s In Evening Air but their live shows were always a ball of energy – Sam Herring played to those 40 people in Brighton in exactly the same way as to the several thousand in and surrounding the second stage tent they were headlining here. Never half-arsed and unashamedly pop (with the guttural vocal twists here and there), this was a crowning moment for the hard-workers and the good guys. The whoosh of joy when the chorus on the viral hit Seasons (Waiting On You) kicked in was goose-bump stuff.

Gallon Drunk @ The Lexington

Gallon Drunk @ The Lexington

8: The Hidden Cameras. Bush Hall, Shepherd’s Bush (January)
“For all that the sound and tone is shaded around the edges these days, Gibb’s ability to write enrapturing pop songs remains undiminished as he continues to add an admirable breadth to his canon”. FULL REVIEW.

9: The Fall. Brixton Electric (September)
New song ‘Dedication’ buzzed like a chainsaw and put itself in contention as a new epic set closer. A stretched-out krautrock version of White Lightning also gave that particularly well-worn cover version a new lease of life.

10: China Drum. Highbury Garage (December)
I don’t listen to a lot of stuff of China Drum’s ‘type’ these days, but their 1996 debut LP Goosefair remains one of my all time favourites. With the Garage about a third full, it didn’t feel like a night that would hit the heights, but the band came on and ripped straight through four of the best tunes from that record beginning with Cloud 9 and I was bellowing along in seconds. Nostalgia-fest perhaps, but that opening salvo was simply magnificent.

11: Girls Names. Luton UK Centre for Carnival Arts (February)

12: Seun Kuti & Fela’s Egypt 80. Field Day @ Victoria Park (June)

13: Mclusky(-ish). Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach (November)

14: Swans. DRILL Festival @ Hove Old Market (December)

15: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan. Brighton Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar (May)

16: Therapy?. Scala (April)

17: David Thomas Broughton & Juice Vocal Ensemble. End of the Road Festival @ Larmer Tree Gardens (August)

The Chills @ Brudenell Social Club

The Chills @ Brudenell Social Club

18: The Chills. Leeds Brudenell Social Club (July)

19: John Grant & The Royal Northern Sinfonia. Royal Festival Hall (November)

20: AK/DK. Shoreditch Old Blue Last (April)

21: The Cravats. Buffalo Bar (April)

22: Evil Blizzard. Islington Electrowerkz (January)

23: Thurston Moore. Field Day @ Victoria Park (June)

24: Melt Banana. Southampton Joiners Arms (June)

25: ESG. Queen Elizabeth Hall (June)

26: Tune-Yards. End of the Road Festival @ Larmer Tree Gardens (August)

27: Crispy Ambulance. Islington Lexington (September)

28: New Build. Shoreditch Basing House (October)

29: The Cult Of Dom Keller. Bethnal Green Sebright Arms (April)

30: Imprints. Hoxton Courtyard Theatre (April)



Therapy? @ Scala

other song ‘highlights’ from the year’s gigging
The A-Lines, Day One (Islington Lexington)
Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath (British Summer Time @ Hyde Park)
British Sea Power, Mongk II (Northampton Roadmender & End of the Road Festival)
Carla Bozulich, Time Of The Preacher (Dalston Café OTO)
Charles Hayward, Abracadabra Information (Hackney Oslo)
Chrome Hoof, Drobe Out (Hackney Oslo)
David Thomas Broughton & Juice Vocal Ensemble, Unshaven Boozer (End of the Road Festival)
First Aid Kit, My Silver Lining (Royal Albert Hall)
Fumaça Preta, Fumaça Preta (Spitalfields Rough Trade East)
Gary War, Pleading For Annihilation (Dalston Victoria)
The Hare & Hoofe, Crab (Islington Lexington)
John Grant, Marz (Bexhill-On-Sea De La Warr Pavilion)
The Magic Band, When It Blows Its Stacks (Aldershot West End Centre)
Motörhead, Ace of Spades (British Summer Time @ Hyde Park)
The National, England (British Summer Time @ Hyde Park)
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Love And Only Love (British Summer Time @ Hyde Park)
The Neutrinos, Shake The Egg (Edinburgh Summerhall)
The New Pornographers, War On The East Coast (Manchester Gorilla)
Paul Vickers, Mother Shipton (Edinburgh Espionage)
Pond, …tune that morphed into Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song’… (Field Day @ Victoria Park)
The Pop Group, We Are All Prostitutes (Islington Assembly Hall)
Pow, Hope Dealers (Dalston Victoria)
Public Image Limited, This Is Not A Love Song (Indigo @ The O2)
Ravioli Me Away, Cat Call (Brixton Electric)
Ruts DC, Babylon’s Burning (Record Store Day @ Berwick Street)
The Space Lady, (Ghost) Riders In The Sky (Brighton West Hill Hall)
Ye Nuns, Oh, How To Do Now (Brixton Electric)


All Our Yesterdays – The Top 5’s

1: Thee Oh Sees @ Liverpool Kazimier
2: White Fence @ Tufnell Park Dome/Pontins Camber Sands (ATP)
3: Michael Rother @ Wrexham Central Station
4: Do Make Say Think @ Victoria Park (Field Day)
5: The Pop Group @ Pontins Camber Sands (ATP)
(full list)

1: Boredoms @ Minehead Butlins (ATP)
2: Thee Oh Sees @ Stockholm Hornstull Strand
3: Mike Watt & George Hurley play the songs of The Minutemen @ Minehead Butlins (ATP)
4: The Ex & Brass Unbound @ Pontins Camber Sands (ATP)
5: Group Doueh @ Minehead Butlins (ATP)
(full list)

1=: King Creosote & Jon Hopkins @ Union Chapel
1=: Nisennenmondai @ Kentish Town Forum
3: The Magic Band @ Nottingham Rescue Rooms (et al)
4: Gaggle @ Rough Trade East
5: Kap Bambino @ Krems Messangelände
(full list)

1: tUnE-yArDs @ Shoreditch Cargo.
2: Low @ Barcelona Parc del Forum (Primavera Sound)
3: The Fall @ Barcelona Parc del Forum (Primavera Sound)
4: Edwyn Collins @ Bowlie II (ATP)
5: The Hidden Cameras @ Shoreditch St Leonards Church
(full list)

1: Amiina @ Shoreditch St Leonards Church
2: Transglobal Underground @ Shoreditch Rich Mix
3: Future Islands @ University of London Union
4: Veronica Falls @ Spitalfields Rough Trade East
5: Pet Shop Boys @ Greenwich O2
(full list)

1: Tilting & Drifting: The Songs Of Scott Walker @ Barbican Theatre
2: Danananananakroyd @ Islington Lexington
3: The B-52’s @ Camden Roundhouse
4: Killing Joke @ Kentish Town Forum
5: Billy Childish & The Musicians Of The British Empire @ Dalston Barden’s Boudoir

1: Carla Bozulich @ Spitalfields The Spitz
2: The Fall @ Hammersmith Palais
3: Rarely Seen Above Ground @ Whitechapel Art Gallery
4: Tim Ten Yen @ Brixton Windmill
5: Yndi Halda @ London Blow Up Metro

1: Cardiacs @ London Astoria
2: Shitdisco @ Liverpool Barfly
3: Only Son @ Liverpool Carling Academy 2
4: Stuffy/The Fuses @ Herne Hill Half Moon
5: Gogol Bordello @ Manchester Academy 2

1: The Magic Band @ Liverpool Carling Academy 2
2: Architecture In Helsinki @ Liverpool Barfly
3: Schwervon @ Liverpool Zanzibar
4: Cranebuilders @ Liverpool Carling Academy 2
5: Thee More Shallows @ Liverpool Hev’n & Hell

1: Charlie Parr @ Leeds Packhorse
2: Soweto Gospel Choir @ Edinburgh St Georges West
3: The Magic Band @ Highbury Garage
4: Nina Nastasia with Huun-Huur-Tu @ Leeds City Varieties
5: Kid Carpet @ Liverpool Barfly

1: Low @ Islington Union Chapel
2: Jeffrey Lewis @ Leeds Royal Park Cellars
3: Olympic Lifts @ Southampton Joiners
4: The Kills @ Southampton Joiners
5: Melt Banana @ Liverpool Magnet

1: The White Stripes @ Leeds Festival
2: Cardiacs @ London Astoria
3: The Polyphonic Spree @ Leeds Festival
4: Motel @ Portsmouth Horseshoe
5: Nina Nastasia @ Spitalfields The Spitz

1: Cardiacs @ London Astoria
2: Lonnie Donegan @ Guildford Festival
3: The Monsoon Bassoon @ Highbury Garage
4: Muse @ Portsmouth Guildhall
5: Ed Harcourt @ Guildford Festival

December 21, 2014 - Posted by | Yearly lists | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] 2014 1: Neneh Cherry & Rocketnumbernine @ Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms 2: Human Hair @ Soho Madame JoJos 3: Gallon Drunk @ Islington Lexington 4: Gene Clark No Other Band @ End of the Road Festival 5: Thee Oh Sees @ Shoreditch Ace Hotel (full list) […]

    Pingback by 2015: 30 gig salute « Vanity Project | December 18, 2015 | Reply

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