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)

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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)

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All Our Yesterdays – The Top 5’s

2013
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)

2012
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)

2011
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)

2010
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)

2009
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)

2008
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

2007
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

2006
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

2005
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

2004
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

2003
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

2002
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

2001
1: Cardiacs @ London Astoria
2: Lonnie Donegan @ Guildford Festival
3: The Monsoon Bassoon @ Highbury Garage
4: Muse @ Portsmouth Guildhall
5: Ed Harcourt @ Guildford Festival

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December 21, 2014 Posted by | Yearly lists | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2013: 25 gig salute

2013 has seen the end of the ATP weekenders, which is of course a great shame as they were the perfect destination for a gig adventure. Poor quality chalet-age, freezing December weather, a nearby beach with sand-dunes plus a heavy duty line up of quality bands. What more could you want? Their final weekender was a treat to behold and a superb topper for a fine gigging year.

Gig adventures were not confined to Camber Sands either, as in 2013 I was also fortunate enough to be able to search out great live music in a variety of locations outside London (including the rock n’ roll capital, Stamford in Lincolnshire) as well as in France and Germany. In those locations I can recommend La Maroquinerie in Paris, The Kazimier in Liverpool and the Cookie Jar in Leicester as fine places to see live music.

So, anyway, 2013 then; here’s the very best of times… (all pics by D A Nicholls)

Thee Oh Sees

Thee Oh Sees @ Kazimier

1: Thee Oh Sees. Liverpool Kazimier (May)
Playing as part of the SoundCity festival, the Kazimier is rammed awaiting Thee Oh Sees who begin their European tour here with their merch and equipment having been confiscated or lost en route from their arrival point of France. Nonetheless, using borrowed equipment, they whip up a fire in a manner to which repeated viewers of their live shows have become accustomed. Perfect festival set from a band at the height of their powers.

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White Fence @ Tufnell Park Dome

2: White Fence. Tufnell Park Dome/ ATP @ Camber Sands Pontins (May/November)
“On record, White Fence’s sound can be quite gentle, bobbing along like a message in a bottle, but live there is a vigour that comes from the wall of sound created by the three-guitar set up. It’s a woozy psychedelic swirl which captures a punk abandon vocally, and some Beefheart/post-punk eccentricity in the guitar textures. Glorious, in short”. FULL REVIEW.

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Michael Rother @ Wrexham Central Station

3: Michael Rother. Wrexham Central Station (April)
Backed by the Berlin-based band Camera, Michael Rother continues to bring the best of his back catalogue to audiences old and new. Here, as part of a Welsh music conference, he demonstrates why he is a pivotal figure in the world of kosmische musik, having been a member of Neu!, Harmonia and for briefer periods, Cluster and Kraftwerk. This is not just a history lesson either, with the motorik beat thunderous and Rother’s guitar shimmering like winter sun over a series of classic instrumental pieces.

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Do Make Say Think @ Field Day

Do Make Say Think @ Field Day

4: Do Make Say Think. Field Day @ Victoria Park (May)
Undulating, oscillating, climbing, crashing, Do Make Say Think occupy a point somewhere between Tortoise and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. As they finished, and the cheers bellowed out, a stranger and I turned to each other in agreement that this was by the far the most exhilarating thing we’d seen all day. You can’t see everything at a festival, of course, but other turns will have had to have gone some to top it.

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5: The Pop Group. ATP End of an Era Part 2 @ Camber Sands Pontins (November)
With a background of Mark Stewart having gone hatstand on the social networks two nights prior to their set, calling out Barry Hogan of ATP, and festival curators Loop as being “cunnts”, there was some speculation that The Pop Group would not be appearing. However a deletion and apology the next morning meant we were all systems go, and HOW. A ball of energy, this was not some nostalgia trip, as much as being entirely relevant right HERE right NOW. Spectacular.

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The Intelligence @ Lexington

The Intelligence @ Lexington

6: The Intelligence. Islington Lexington (June)
Chances are if you’ve taken your guitar to the back of the room and are currently tight-rope walking on the bar seating area then your gig is going quite well. Lars Finberg has got every right as The Intelligence meet the anticipation of their first London show (a previous attempt to play this venue three years ago having been curtailed by the minor issue of them apparently being refused entry into the UK) head on with an hour of to-the-point buzzing garage rock n’ roll.

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7: Verity Susman. Queen Elizabeth Hall (June)
Pretty much the same set as made the list last year but this was the fourth time I’d seen it since and here in a large room, the vocal loops filled the space beautifully. With the sax squawks at the start and the repetitive Siri-speaks-slash-fiction unafraid to test patience, it all builds to the topper twin-set of The Phillip Glass Ceiling and To Make You Afraid which simply blow the lid off. REVIEW OF CAFÉ OTO SET EARLIER IN 2013.

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8: The Magic Band. Chelsea Under The Bridge (March)
Turns out there is something to admire about Chelsea FC – a very handsome venue in a basement beneath one of the stands. This show was the final show on the Magic Band’s latest tour. I have now seen the Magic Band on several occasions and this gig in terms of atmosphere must rank it up there amongst the very best, certainly since the departure of Gary Lucas’ from the group. Erik Klerks may about as much connection to the original group as I have, but the boy can play, and facilitates John French, Denny Whalley and Mark Boston showing how it was done when the Captain was still around. Key track: Hot Head

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Chrome Hoof @ Lexington

Chrome Hoof @ Lexington

9: Chrome Hoof. Islington Lexington (October)
“Now, of course, this [accessibility] may not be an ideal development for many sympathisers, who may want their business as usual. They’ll be happy to know though that there remain many layers to the Hoof’s operation, with death metal grunt, predatory P-funk, kosmische swirl and heavy duty prog tangents still underpinning the silver-glitter, disco-ball strut”. FULL REVIEW.

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Goat @ ATP

Goat @ ATP

10: Goat. ATP End of an Era Part 2 @ Camber Sands Pontins (December)
Context is all. Their Electric Ballroom set earlier this year which has been captured as a live record was fine, but the further back you are from the spectacle, it loses something. Here, right next to a speaker and close to the veiled and masked troubadours, the spirit of the live performance transmitted straight down into the feet. With a veritable queue of crowdsurfers taking to their air, this was wne of those experiences that you only really find at a festival.

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Teeth of the Sea vs Wire @ Cafe OTO

Teeth of the Sea vs Wire @ Cafe OTO

11: Teeth Of The Sea vs. WIRE. Dalston Café OTO (March)
“After an awkward soundcheck in front of a shuffling, encroaching, excited audience here in the bijou confines of a packed Café OTO, Teeth of the Sea and Wire come together for a twenty-minute version of the latter’s track Drill. It is a Drill so powerful as to put the earth’s core in jeopardy, spinning and piercing incessantly and feverishly until Colin Newman raises his hands to ask “If this is not an exercise, could this be a drill?” It is, and an astonishing one”. FULL REVIEW.

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Nisennenmondai @ La Maroquinerie

12: Nisennenmondai. Paris La Maroquinerie (June)
“With their most recent material prior to latest LP ‘N’ , the set with which they toured triumphantly round Europe and America in 2011 (captured on their ‘Nisennenmondai Live!!!’ recording), it was mostly the case of a fast rhythm grinding abrasively, stabbing guitar (or Korg synth) weaving its way in and around the bass and percussion, taking it’s time to reach the springboard, the metronomic bass-thump and hi-hat rave-beat greeting the extra drums when it kicks on, but with this new record they are seemingly happy for soundscapes to travel without such frenzy and with a flattening of the peaks and troughs”. FULL REVIEW.

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AKDK @ Southsea Fest

AKDK @ Southsea Fest

13: AK DK. Southsea Social Club (September)
Festivals will give you moments like this, where a band sweeps an audience who, by and large, will not have heard of them, off their feet and into abandon giddier than the situation has any right to be. This was one of those, taking those in the downstairs room of Southsea’s Social Club, when they could have been in any number of the other venues taking part in Southsea Fest, well into their bosom. New found affection abounded.

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Kim Ki O @ La Maroquinerie

14: Kim Ki O. Paris La Maroquinerie (June)
“Having made the journey [to France from the protests ongoing back home in Istanbul] it is clear this is not business as usual as their voices crack with emotion as they speak of police brutality and a refusal to give up the fight for the secularist community….Of course, all this creates quite a poignant atmosphere in the room and elevate their tunes to a sum that is perhaps greater than the parts.” FULL REVIEW.

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Housewives @ Lexington

Housewives @ Lexington

15: Housewives. Islington Lexington (June)
Relentless, energetic post-punk, the wild abandon from a fledging group immediately impressing.

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16: Destruction Unit. Shoreditch Old Blue Last (October)
Hugeness. A no-encores set of about 40 minutes with two, perhaps three numbers (certainly Slow Death Sounds and Night Loner were in there) stretched out to become crushing, brutalist wrecking balls thumping ‘the soundscape’ square in the face. Lighting rigs were hung from, guitars attacked and rock n’ roll made intense and startling with no quarter given.

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Orchestra of Spheres @ Power Lunches

Orchestra of Spheres @ Power Lunches

17: Orchestra of Spheres. Dalston Power Lunches (December)
The costumes betray a place at the B-52’s/Devo ‘fun-time’ end of post-punk, whilst the ‘biscuit tin’ guitar whirls through Afrobeat, psychedelia and good ol’ rock n’ roll. Punk-funk, glam and detached disco all feature and thus an hour of top flight dance action gradually builds with the in-round singing of Mind Over Might taking it to another level still.

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18: White Hills. Shoreditch Cargo (April)
Entering to a quiet London crowd giving off a not untypical ‘go on then impress us’ air, they left 75 minutes later to feverish cheering, having impressed us thoroughly and beyond expectation.

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19: Cosmonauts. Hoxton Macbeth (August)
Barely pausing to catch breath over the course of 45 minutes, this was rumbling psychedelic rock done to perfection.

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napal11

Napalm Death @ Cafe Central

20: Napalm Death. Weinheim Café Central (January)
“The rhythm section looks exactly as an extreme metal rhythm section should look: portly, goateed and appearing to be combating a migraine throughout. Bassist Shane Embury, the sole member to date back to 1987 debut LP Scum is still billowing out an unkempt wafro, but these days pattern baldness has rendered a kind of reverse-Mohawk parting of the red sea, the bubbling follicles hanging round his ears like palm leaves”. FULL REVIEW.

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21: Eat Lights Become Lights. Rough Trade East (July)
Muscular psychedelic krautrock grooves powered by not one but two drummers.

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Moon Duo @ Tufnell Park Dome

Moon Duo @ Tufnell Park Dome

22: Moon Duo. Tufnell Park Dome (July)
Now a duo of three being augmented with a live drummer but although this was the best I’ve seen of Moon Duo that was more to do with personal positioning as the performance as a stage-lip berth meant I could watch Ripley Johnson work his psychedelic solos at close range. Key track: Catch As Catch Can.

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23: Purple Pilgrims. Shacklewell Arms (November)
A short set with a minimalist set up. Two people, two guitars, two voices, and one box for the rest. Uncluttered, breathy, glacial, ethereal, all of these things and much much more than the sum of the parts.

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24: Colin Stetson. Dalston Café OTO (October)
Harsh and abrasive, yet haunting, Colin Stetson’s virtuoso displays of circular breathing and using all the sonics of his instrument, making it appear as though he is playing three or four patterns at once. How he manages this without looping technology is beyond my comprehension really, so both impressive as a human feat and as a series of pieces that can capture isolation and hope in equal measure.

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25: The Octopus Project. Highbury Garage (October)
It is possible to be oddball and cohesive at the same time. Largely instrumental business with theremins and cinematic scope, like a knockabout Yann Tiersen. Very entertaining in support of Man or Astroman?

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Honorary ‘Not Sure If You Can Call That A Gig Really?’ Award….

Neon Neon. Village Underground (June)
If you’re going to write an album entirely about the life of left wing millionaire publisher and activist Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, I suppose it makes sense to perform it live as part of an immersive theatrical show with extra vignettes acted out, and the audience required to move about as the stage itself moves amongst them. Plus with a victorious encore from their first LP which, incidentally, was all about John DeLorean. Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip don’t do things by halves.

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Il Sogno del Marinaio (Mike Watt) @ Cookie Jar

Il Sogno del Marinaio (Mike Watt) @ Cookie Jar

Other highlight tunes from the year’s gigging
Anna Calvi, Eliza (Wilton’s Music Hall)
BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Doctor Who Theme (Rough Trade East)
Bilge Pump, final song of set with drone section (Leeds Brudenell Social Club)
Black Sabbath, Behind The Wall Of Sleep (The O2)
British Sea Power, No Lucifer (Derby The Venue)
Brown Brogues, I’m Not A Crane (Old Blue Last)
Cable, Honolulu (Highbury Garage)
Charles Hayward, My Madness (Old Blue Last)
China Drum, Cloud 9 (Stamford Voodoo Lounge)
Civil Civic, Airspray (ATP End of an Era Part 2 @ Pontins Camber Sands)
David Byrne & St Vincent, I Should Watch TV (Roundhouse)
Deerhoof, Basketball Get Your Groove Back (Queen Elizabeth Hall)
East India Youth, Heaven, How Long (Heaven)
Gary War, Pleading for Annihilation (Shacklewell Arms)
Il Sogno del Marinaio, Partisan Song (Leicester Cookie Jar)
James Yorkston, Tortoise Regrets Hare (Field Day @ Victoria Park)
Jeffrey Lewis & The Rain, History of the French Revolution (Latitude Festival @ Henham Park)
John Grant, Marz (Latitude Festival @ Henham Park)
Kandodo, Lord Hyena, 3am (ATP End of an Era Part 2 @ Pontins Camber Sands)
Kraftwerk, Spacelab (Latitude Festival @ Henham Park)
Low, Murderer (Cambridge Junction)
Man Or Astroman?, Antimatter Man (Highbury Garage)
Mega Emotion, Shapes (Courtyard Theatre)
My Bloody Valentine, Soon (Hammersmith Apollo)
Robyn Hitchcock, Wreck Of The Arthur Lee (Rough Trade East)
Savages, Flying To Berlin (Lexington)
Shrag, Faux-Coda (Lexington)
65daysofstatic, Sleepwalk City (Rough Trade East)
Steve Mason, Am I Just A Man? (Record Store Day @ Berwick Street)
Talk Normal, Shot This Time (Sebright Arms)
Terakaft, Tirera (Electrowerkz)
Trust, Bulbforms (Electrowerkz)
Wilko Johnson, She Does It Right (Rough Trade East)
Wire & The Pink Flag Orchestra, Pink Flag (Heaven)

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All Our Yesterdays – The Top 5’s

2012
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)

2011
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)

2010
1: tUnE-yArDs @ Shoreditch Cargo.
2: Low @ Primavera Sound
3: The Fall @ Primavera Sound
4: Edwyn Collins @ Bowlie II (ATP)
5: The Hidden Cameras @ Shoreditch St Leonards Church
(full list)

2009
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)

2008
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

2007
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

2006
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

2005
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

2004
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

2003
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

2002
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

2001
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 30, 2013 Posted by | Yearly lists | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2012: 25 gig salute

Looking at this list of my 25 top gigs (well, sets really) of 2012, it seems I have much to thank the curators and bookers of the festivals I went to, with ATP festivals in March and December, as well as Field Day, Lovebox, Apple Cart and the BT River of Music (Africa Stage) represented robustly here.

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Thee Oh Sees @ Hornstull Strand

Interesting, to me at least, is that the act at #1 would, the first time I saw them, have won my ‘Most Disappointing Gig Of The Year’ garland, were I the spiteful type to dole those kind of things out. Just goes to show first impressions don’t have to last.

So, anyway, here’s the best of ‘em…

1: Boredoms. ATP @ Minehead Butlins (March)
Five drummers, twelve guitarists, and leader EYE at the centre of the storm, conducting with body rather than baton. We were promised an “energy orb”, and it becomes just that, with EYE’s intonations and sonic crashes blowing minds all around.

2: Thee Oh Sees. Stockholm Hornstull Strand (June)
Playing third on a four band bill at 20:15 might seem like a thankless task but while Brian Jonestown Massacre and Kurt Vile & The Violators may have been bigger draws at this special ‘What We Do Is Secret’ summer event, Thee Oh Sees go beyond ‘warming up’ the crowd to the point where the energy they generate on stage and in the crowd would be enough to keep the Stockholm street’s lit through a long Scandinavian winter. Highlight: The Dream.

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Watt & Hurley @ ATP

3: Mike Watt & George Hurley play the songs of The Minutemen. ATP @ Minehead Butlins (March)
After a rare mistake, Mike Watt remarks “you know we practise, and practise, and practise, but we’re still missing our guy”, acknowledging the D. Boon shaped hole in this set-up. Boon died in 1985. Watt & Hurley refused to replace him, or use the Minutemen name without him, and this is a very rare duet, but these are their songs re-shaped for a bass guitar and a drum-set only, and it is both a tribute to an absent friend and yet electrifying in the here and now.

4: The Ex & Brass Unbound. ATP @ Camber Sands (December)
The Ex can now officially be called staples of my end of year list having appeared here in 2010, again with Brass Unbound, and last year in tandem with Getatchu Mekuria. This, though, was the best of the lot.

5: Group Doueh. ATP @ Minehead Butlins (March)
It’s the end of a long weekend. Long, but great. Just as the body is beginning to give up, it gets a recharge from Western Saharan rock troubadours. Like a psychedelic wedding band with a bosomy Auntie on backing vocals and excitable frug. Electrifying, at just the right time. A fine way to finish off an ATP.

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The Fall @ ATP

6: The Fall. ATP @ Minehead Butlins (March)
Continuing a rich run of astonishing Fall gigs, by no means a guarantee, with one of the very best yet.

7: Liars. Field Day @ Victoria Park (June)
“Never ones to sit still, new LP WIXIW is yet another change of direction, and they showcase it here, thunderous beats and ambient electro building up from the wide-pupilled alt.rock foundations, and occupying a world of its own”. FULL REVIEW. Highlight: Brats.

8: Turing Machine. ATP @ Camber Sands (November)
So, you go to a festival, and you do your research, see what’s good for checking out n’ that. Ramping up to the Shellac-curated ATP, Turing Machine’s record stood head and shoulders above other unfamiliar acts that were previewed. With expectations thus running high, it was bound to be a let down, right? Not a bit of it. Utterly electrifying.

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Liars @ Field Day

9: Black Sabbath. Birmingham O2 Academy (May)
“Throw in the fact that Ozzy Osbourne has been a cartoon character with a shot voice for many years, while guitar hero Tony Iommi has been stricken with cancer of late, even the fact that my first experience of Sabbath live, twenty years after they first entered my record collection, would be a warm-up show in their home town in a venue far too small to accommodate demand, felt tinged by an sense of disappointment. One hour and forty-five minutes of some of the finest hard rock anthems later however, all those misgivings were blown away.” FULL REVIEW. Highlight: The Wizard.

10: Evangelista. Brussels Les Ateliers Claus (September)
“However, it is Winds Of St Anne that takes the prize as the set highlight, as it crawls through the haze of an Arabian desert-scrape, ridden with the impact sweat of the dry heat, the lyrics anticipating a new life in preparatory stream of consciousness (“When the wind blows, there are no rules”) as the bursts of excitement leaving a tension in their wake” FULL REVIEW

The first time I saw Carla Bozulich playing the music from her Evangelista album in 2007, if it wasn’t life changing then it was certainly eye-opening and EAR-changing. I’ve seen Carla in duos, trios and with the full Evangelista group on several occasions since, but it was probably this show that got closest to matching the intensity of that first show.

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Evangelista @ Les Ateliers Claus

11: Verity Susman. Dalston Birthdays (June)
Thirty minute sonic adventure taking in squalling sax, vocal loops, dancefloor beats all weaving in and out of Seven of Nine based lesbian slash fiction read sonorously by a disembodied ‘Protect and Survive’ style narrator. Startling and arresting.

12: The Pre New. Social (August)
Chaotically immense. Was it not ever thus?

13: Bo Ningen. Rough Trade East (October)
“With each Bo Ningen gig I have attended, they have been twice as good as the previous occasion. If these trends continue, they will become the greatest band in the world about four gigs from now”. FULL REVIEW.

14: Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat. Apple Cart Festival @ Victoria Park (June)
“I’ve never done this before sober” says Aidan Moffat as he shuffles onto the stage, followed by the band and the eccentric looking figure of Bill Wells who takes a back-seat on stage. Yet it is his piano lines as much as anything else that causes my flesh to goose into bumps on at least three occasions. It is Jubilee weekend so they play their Glasgow Jubilee with prefaced warning to the parents at this ‘family’ festival that it may get a little x-rated. Also, with the rain hammering down incessantly outside, their drawled cover of Bananarama’s Cruel Summer is entirely apt. Highlight: Let’s Stop Here.

15: Melt Banana. ATP @ Camber Sands (December)
Down to a core duo, but no less intense. It required a shower and a change of shirt for me directly afterwards, involved me carrying two crowd surfers on my head at one point, and one bloke left afterwards minus the set of specs he went in with. Bedlam and thus brilliant. Highlight: Free The Bee.

16: R. Stevie Moore. Field Day @ Victoria Park (June)
“Dressed in sweatpants, and sporting the kind of facial hair you can usually only get away with if you have an army of elves in your employ, the eccentricity is clearly of the cuddly ‘hey everybody, I’ve just dyed my beard blue’ kind. R. Stevie projects a wavering baritone onto his sharp rock and his pop whimsy, but then unleashes a growling bark that Jazz Coleman would rank amongst his best. A reason to be cheerful, certainly”. FULL REVIEW. Highlight: I Like To Stay Home.

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Bo Ningen @ RTE

17: Andrew W.K.. Kentish Town Forum (April)
Sometimes you just need to check your brain in at the door and surrender to ridiculous, gonzoid, cartoon rock. What better time to do this than with Andrew W.K. in town, with full band, performing his superb record of feel-good PAAAAAAAARRRRR-TAAAAAAYYYYYY anthems, I Get Wet in its entirety to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Damn good fun.

18: Victims. Stockholm Hornstull Strand (June)
From Nyköping, Victims play a brand of punishing hardcore punk rock that gives no quarter, and barrels into the audience like a rolling dust cloud of thrown fists and kicking legs. First on Victims own the Strand stage and both Bombus and American veterans Poison Idea couldn’t follow them.

19: Gallon Drunk. Hoxton Macbeth (November)
“There’s nothing stand-offish about Gallon Drunk. More stand in-ish, as frontman James Johnston spends the entire set indulging in some front-row frottage whilst slinging his guitar about with such carefree abandon that the less attentive audience member remains permanently in peril of a blithe biffing” FULL REVIEW.

20: Peepholes. Scala (August)
“Peepholes can be a little awkward in their stage craft which isn’t helped here by a fidgety drum set causing continual trouble. However a packed Scala forgive these minor shortcomings and raise the roof on their departure, having been blown away by a peacock display of assertive synths, rattling drums and a psychedelic yelp” . FULL REVIEW.

21: Angélique Kidjo. London Pleasure Gardens (July)
When your playing at a day of African music and the moment legend of African music Hugh Masekela joins you on stage isn’t anywhere near the highlight of your performance, it’d be fair to say you’ve turned it on proper. 52 years of age but performing with the zeal of a teenager, Angélique Kidjo stole the Saturday of the BT River of Music’s Africa stage from under the noses of King Sunny Ade and Baaba Maal. Highlight: Move On Up.

22: The Magic Band. Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms (March)
Crowd turned from quiet and respectful to hollering and hooting in the space of two energetic sets. Your favourite band gets booked into your favourite venue, what better excuse is there for a trip back home?. Highlight: My Human Gets Me Blues.

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Angélique Kidjo @ BT River of Music

23: Hot Chip. Lovebox @ Victoria Park (June)
Humbled by the honour, Al Doyle announces this is the first time Hot Chip have headlined a festival, and they don’t waste the opportunity afforded them. Being a fan of both Pet Shop Boys and Devo, it is difficult for me NOT to have a soft spot for Hot Chip, who also apply a subtly arched eyebrow to spirited synth-pop. Here it is also aligned with a monogamously romantic soul sound, and no small dose of party funk. The hipster chess club nerds own the field as the sun goes down, stacking the bases for a triumphant closing medley of Ready For The Floor, Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere and Hold On. Highlight: Over and Over.

24: First Aid Kit. Rough Trade East (January)
Often bands playing Rough Trade comment on the lack of raucousness in the audience. This was one where a quiet, appreciate, record shop crowd probably fitted the occasion. They still look about 12, but the two ladies of First Aid Kit have a maturity of performance and harmonisation well beyond their years. Highlight: The Lion’s Roar.

25: The Invisible Republic of JuJu. London Pleasure Gardens (July)
Formerly of Jah Wobble’s Invaders of The Heart and collaborator with Robert Plant, Brian Eno and Tinariwen, Justin Adams has also worked recently with ritti player Juldeh Camara, bassist Billy Fuller and drummer Dave Smith as JuJu. For the River of Music Africa Stage they surrounded their desert psych and jazz drone with a number of North African guest players and singers for a glorious union celebrating the ‘the invisible republic’ of collaborating musicians and interacting cultures.

‘Gigs 2012’ Spotify playlist

 

Ooh, so close: A Place To Bury Stangers (Cargo), Beach House (Brighton Haunt), Hejira (Bethnal Green Sebright Arms), Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (ATP @ Butlins Minehead), K-X-P (Corsica Studios), Lower Dens (Islington Lexington), The Megaphonic Thrift (Shoreditch Old Blue Last), Scratch Acid (ATP @ Butlins Minehead), Squarepusher (Hackney Empire), Underground Railroad (Hoxton Macbeth)

 

other song ‘highlights’ from the year’s gigging

American Contemporary Music Ensemble, Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet (ATP @ Minehead Butlins)
Beak>, Yatton (Islington Lexington)
Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny, Sweet tooth Bird (Apple Cart Festival @ Victoria Park)
Billy Bragg, Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards/I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles/A New England (Apple Cart Festival @ Victoria Park)
Bis, Eurodisco (Lexington)
Blurt, Enemy Ears (Lewisham Fox & Firkin)
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Merciless And Great (Hackney Empire)
Dead Rat Orchestra, the one with the percussion provided in the beer garden via axes and a log (Lewisham Fox & Firkin)
Hejira, Litmus Test (Bethnal Green Sebright Arms)
Here We Go Magic, Make Up Your Mind (Field Day @ Victoria Park)
The Hives, Walk Idiot Walk (Roundhouse)
The Imagined Village, Bending The Dark (BT London Live @ Victoria Park)
James Yorkston & The Athletes, I Know My Love (Cecil Sharp House)
Jeff Mangum, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (ATP @ Minehead Butlins)
Joanna Newsom, Inflammatory Writ (ATP @ Minehead Butlins)
The Levellers, One Way (BT London Live @ Hyde Park)
Low, Murderer (ATP @ Minehead Butlins)
Megadeth, Never Dead (Download @ Donington Park)
Metronomy, Love Underlined (Brixton Academy)
Ministry, N.W.O. (Kentish Town Forum)
MJ Hibbett & The Validators, Easily Impressed (Wilmington Arms)
Moon Duo, I Can See (Elephant & Castle Corsica Studios)
New Build, Do You Not Feel Loved (Rough Trade East)
Nina Nastasia, Jimmy’s Rose Tattoo (ATP @ Camber Sands Pontins)
Public Image Limited, Death Disco (Rochester Castle)
Robyn Hitchcock, Uncorrected Personality Traits (ATP @ Minehead Butlins)
Soundgarden, Black Hole Sun (Download @ Donington Park)
Toy, Left Myself Behind (Shacklewell Arms)
The Wedding Present, Corduroy (Los Angeles Troubadour)

 

All Our Yesterdays – The Top 5’s

2011
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)

2010
1: tUnE-yArDs @ Shoreditch Cargo.
2: Low @ Primavera Sound
3: The Fall @ Primavera Sound
4: Edwyn Collins @ Bowlie II (ATP)
5: The Hidden Cameras @ Shoreditch St Leonards Church
(full list)

2009
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)

2008
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

2007
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

2006
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

2005
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

2004
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

2003
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

2002
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

2001
1: Cardiacs @ London Astoria
2: Lonnie Donegan @ Guilford Festival
3: The Monsoon Bassoon @ Highbury Garage
4: Muse @ Portsmouth Guildhall
5: Ed Harcourt @ Guilford Festival

December 20, 2012 Posted by | Yearly lists | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2010: 21 gig salute

Looks like my volume of gigs is likely to reduce significantly in 2011, but I can’t really complain given I’ve overdosed on ‘em in the last year or two. Indeed I believe I made it to 173 gigs and festivals in 2010 (living near to so many free opportunities helps) and I present the foremost 21 here.

1: tUnE-yArDs. Shoreditch Cargo.
One of those gigs where the atmosphere just bristles with ‘this is probably my gig of the year’ vibes all around. Not bad considering it took place in mid-February. Merrill Garbus, like a Tuuvan throat singer, has such an incredible command over her vocal chords, and a percussive bent that aligns neatly with it. Also seen at the Scala.


2: Low. Primavera Sound.
Low were brought to Spain to perform, in its entirety, their album The Great Destroyer, which I had struggled to love in the five years since its release. By the end of the show, the all-seated Auditori at Parc del Forum no longer needed its fixtures, as the entire audience was on their feet acclaiming something just incredible. In terms of the record, I struggle to love no longer. Also seen at Coventry St John the Baptist Church.

 

3: The Fall. Primavera Sound.
“At the end of 50 mins and a rigorous ‘Wolf Kidult Man’, Mark E. Smith slips back on his black jacket and departs, triumphant; as do I, knowing that so early in the proceedings, I have already had my money’s worth.”

Nothing like seeing your favourite team win away from home, in Europe. Also seen at Shepherd’s Bush Empire


Edwyn Collins @ Bowlie II

4: Edwyn Collins. Bowlie II.
Teenage Fanclub learning all the tunes to be his backing band for the afternoon, Ryan Jarman of The Cribs turning up in Somerset apparently just to duet on What Is My Role?, Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand guesting on a few numbers late in the set; this was a vivid exemplar of those one-off sets where the variables all come together neatly, the stars align if you will, for a truly memorable set. Also seen at Rough Trade East.


5: The Hidden Cameras. Shoreditch St Leonards Church.
A special one-off show with an expanded string and brass section to aid the Albert Kennedy Trust. This bigger ensemble and the church setting was perfect for doing justice to the gravitas of the new sounds that characterised their most recent LP ‘Origin: Orphan’. Also seen at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen.

 

6: Omar Souleyman. Scala.
“When the hard beats kick in over Rizan Sa’id’s chaotic dual-keyboard playing; when one of the bands associates removes his suit jacket to take centre-stage and, like a quiet and reserved uncle startling his family at a wedding, begins to gradually work up a slinky sweat; and when Omar takes time out from low-key cheerleading to fire out the poetry, it’s virtually impossible not to be exhilarated by their projected joie de vivre”. full review here.

 

Blurt @ Offset Festival

7: Blurt. Offset Festival.
Cut It! is an astonishing album to come up with thirty years into a career, and Blurt have not been shy in displaying these great new songs like a jeweller displaying his new intake of Cartier watches. Blurt were the last band on at the Offset, appearing after the larger stages had shut up shop, and seemed to take it upon themselves to show the preceding acts how it really should be done. Also seen at Rough Trade East, Mile End Victoria and Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen. Offset review here

 

8: Carla Bozulich. Dalston Café Oto (May and October).
“the full callused power of her vocal range…is like a feral growl contained in a rickety cage; burnt yet eager, sharing the kind of ragged timbre one might associate with the Rev. C.L. Franklin as he looms over a pulpit roaring the gospel”. Full review of the May show here.

Two visits to Café Oto this year, with different collaborative works. In May, Carla performed with cellist Francesco Guerri, and in October with bassist Massimo Pupillo as well as violinist John Eichenseer. Difficult to pick one of the two shows for the list but the latter should take the prize simply because it opened with a breathtaking performance of her incredible Evangelista piece.

 

9: The Manganiyar Seduction. Barbican Theatre.
“Eventually an intense four-drum breakaway builds the pulse-rate, a down-tempo diversion then cleverly counters expectation of this being a non-stop race to the summit before the entire ensemble comes together as a whole for the first time. Naturally, the breath is stolen from us at this point”. full review here.

 

The Pre New @ The Lexington

10: The Pre New. The Lexington.
“Jim Fry, looking like a terrace bruiser in their court suit, does an admirable job of filling shoes and channelling some of the anarchic spirit [of Earl Brutus]…The Pre New are to all intents and purposes an art-school glam band, but one that is piloted by a combination of boilermakers, dockworkers and granite-faced shop stewards, in a dance hall where the glitter balls are lined with asbestos”. full review here.

Members of Earl Brutus in a new band, you say? Right then. If you don’t see me there, you can safely assume I’ve been killed. Also seen at the 1234 Festival and Camden Dublin Castle.

 

11: Factory Floor. Rough Trade East.
Since seeing them at the 1-2-3-4 in 2009, Factory Floor have come on in leaps and bounds.
Also seen at Offset Festival.

 

12: The Ex with Brass Unbound. Tufnell Park Dome.
Scratchy Dutch post-punk in collaboration with a party-brass quartet. Also seen without Brass Unbound at the same venue later in the year.

 

13: The Clean. Brighton Freebutt.
My better half is a big fan of the Flying Nun Records based scene in New Zealand, and was keen to see these veterans of said scene during some rare UK gigs. I’d not heard a note of theirs prior to dropping into the Brighton Freebutt, but came away with In The Dreamlife You Need A Rubber Soul as a persistent earworm. Also seen at Primavera Sound.

 

14: Hallogallo 2010. Barbican Hall.
Neu!’s influence increases year-on-year so it makes perfect sense that Michael Rother take his work with both Neu! and Harmonia back out on the road, joined by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and Tall Firs bassist Aaron Mullan. Hopefully this isn’t being seen as a one-off thing and we see him back again soon. Also seen at Primavera Sound.

 

15: Les Savy Fav. Primavera Sound.
The plan was to watch Les Savy Fav for twenty minutes before checking out something else on another stage. Then Tim Harrington shed his fake fur dog costume and started to see if how far out into the festival he could explore with his extended mic lead. When he’s in that mood, it’s difficult to take your eyes off him and before you know it, their whole hour is done. Also seen at Shoreditch Cargo. review of Cargo show here.

 

16: Nissenenmondai. Tufnell Park Dome.
Only a support slot, but their captivating electro-kraut piece was the evening’s showstopper.

 

17: Gaggle. Women’s Library.
Seen them attract the intrigue of passers-by heading back to their tents at midnight at Latitude, and seen them booed by pockets of Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip’s audience during a support slot, but the main highlight will be their ‘remixed’ and updated version of the 1969 cantata The Brilliant & The Dark performed in the perfect setting of the Women’s Library. Also seen at Bush Hall, Latitude and Shepherd’s Bush Empire. review of Bush Hall show here

 

18: Future Islands. The Old Blue Last.
For many, the combination of sea-sick synths, thundering bass and a voice that sounds like someone’s had at James Mason’s vocal chords with a power-sander will be a horrendous combination. For me, it’s a combination I can’t get enough of. Also seen at City Arts & Music Project and Brighton New Hero.

 

Thee Oh Sees @ Primavera In The Park

19: Thee Oh Sees. Primavera In The Park.
Grimey garage rock n’ roll it may be, but they were the ideal band for a warm afternoon watching bands amongst the palm trees at Barcelona’s Parc Joan Mirò.

 

20: Wildbirds & Peacedrums. Bishopsgate Institute.
Wildbirds & Peacedrums make the seemingly austere combo of single voice and percussion tender and inviting with just those tools, but adding a choir certainly couldn’t hurt, and didn’t.

 

21: Crystal Castles. Latitude Festival
“To borrow the phrase John Peel once used to the describe the atmosphere at an early Fall gig (and which often still applies), that Latitude set ‘crackled with malevolence’. Partly this was in terms of the pubescent members of the audience getting a little rowdy and letting off some steam. One young fella was seen walking out of the main throng clutching the remaining half of his glasses to his left eye like a makeshift monocle to find his way out. It was like the watching an indie-fest version of Saving Private Ryan’s opening salvo”.

Playing to a family festival crowd between The Maccabees and Belle & Sebastian. What could possibly go wrong? Above quote taken from my review of their Roundhouse show later in the year. Also seen at the Roundhouse & Bowlie II.

**A condition set upon myself for this list was that no band would appear twice, otherwise there are a few entrants who may well have done.**


other song ‘moments’ from the year’s gigging that have stuck in the memory

Alasdair Roberts, Kami Thompson & Munto Valdo, Three Sisters/Babylon (Hoxton Apprentice & Rough Trade East)
Applicants, Evelyn Waugh (Dalston Victoria)
Beach House, Gila (Primavera Sound)
Bis, Eurodisco (Primavera Sound)
Caribou, Sun (Offset Festival)
Cathedral, Rise (University of London Union)
Charles Hayward, “…information rich, information poor…” (Dalston Stag’s Head)
Chrome Hoof, Tonyte (Offset Festival)
Hot Chip, Ready For The Floor (Rough Trade East)
Franz Ferdinand, Matinee (Bowlie II)
Idiot Glee, Ain’t No Sunshine (Shoreditch Old Blue Last)
If…, Beasley Street (Dalston Victoria)
Jimmy McGee, 69 Ways… (Bloomsbury The Lamb)
MJ Hibbett & Steve Hewitt, Literature Search (Edinburgh GRV)
Musee Mecanique, Sleeping In Our Clothes (Farringdon Pure Groove)
The New Pornographers, Challengers (Bowlie II)
The Nuns, Higgle-Dy Piggle-Dy (Tufnell Park Dome)
Public Image Ltd, Warrior (Shepherds Bush Empire)
Shellac, The End Of Radio (Primavera Sound)
Shrag, Mark E. Smith (93 Feet East)
Sun Ra Arkestra, Saturn (Dalston Café Oto)
Therapy?, Innocent X (Kings Cross Monto Water Rats)
Think About Life, Wizzzard (93 Feet East)
The Wedding Present, Brassneck (Tunbridge Wells Forum)
Wilko Johnson, Paradise (Rough Trade East)
Yusuf Islam & Ozzy Osbourne, Peace Train vs. Crazy Train (Washington Mall)

 

Go here. where it’s 2009 all over again

 

 

 

December 25, 2010 Posted by | new reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments