As we rush head long into a new year, our intrepid writers countdown their favourite live experiences of 2013! Happy New Year & Enjoy!
Michael James Hall’s Gigs of 2013
1. Television performing Marquee Moon – ATP End of an Era Part 1 –Camber Sands, Sussex
While reviews of the UK dates leading up to this performance were ambivalent, depicting the band as worn, unenthusiastic, even lazy, this was one of the definitive ATP performances of its history and my show of the year. Opening with a transcendent, reaching ‘Venus’ and closing, of course with that crushingly brilliant title song the band were rapturously received and rightly so – one of the best, most addictive, delicious albums of all time played by master musicians who seemed genuinely pleased to be there. A lightning strike moment of perfection where all the stars aligned perfectly one afternoon in Pontin’s.
2. Superchunk – ATP End of an Era Part 2 –Camber Sands, Sussex
At the final UK ATP weekender there was more than a little melancholy in the air. Superchunk raised spirits and brought unbridled joy to Stage 1 on the Sunday evening as they performed 60 minutes of spine-tingling, emotive power-pop with as much precision, pace and passion as they were doing 20 years ago. The double-header of ‘Slack Motherfucker’ and ‘Hyper Enough’ to close was my most purely enjoyable, mortality-forgetting moment of the musical year. Superchunk are just the absolute best in the world at what they do.
3. Swans – Primavera –Barcelona
Captured in part on Michael Gira’s recent limited edition, hand-packaged CD ‘Not Here/Not Now’, this was the night Swans took the hot Barcelona night and battered it into trance-like submission. An almost religious experience (as usual) this was a two hour stretch of the artist’s hand toward some unknowable higher power. There’s poetry, there’s violence, there’s damaged beauty and finally there’s bliss. That’s the kind of power Swans have.
4. Nick Cave w/ Sharon Van Etten – Beacon Theatre –New York
Early in his run of already legendary live shows this year Cave absolutely owned the Upper East Side’s legendary theatre. Sexually charged theatrics, searing versions of his very finest songs (The Mercy Seat, Jack The Ripper, From Her To Eternity etc. etc.) and the perfect support in Ms Van Etten who lulled averyone into a delightful but false sense of security with her glistening, sad pop music before Cave and The Bad Seeds took to the stage with destruction and domination in mind.
5. Mark Kozelek – Union Chapel –London
Just a couple of hours after the announcement of Lou Reed’s death, one of his musical disciples took to the stage in the reverent atmosphere of Union Chapel. Visibly upset, he put on a near two-hour show that included covers of both ‘Caroline Says’ and ‘The Kids’. Clearly in deeply reflective mood Kozelek told a sweet little tale about the sadly deceased Sun Kil Moon drummer Tim Mooney that ended in a hushed room watching Koz fight back the tears. He also dedicated a song to his old friend, also deceased, John Hughes and told a heartwarming tale about how Hughes had saved his career. Sadness and reminiscence aside this was a stunning show – almost entirely made up of brand new songs from the forthcoming ‘Benji’ album his voice, his playing, his delivery – all enchanting, entirely spellbinding.
6. Bob Mould – Primavera – Barcelona
He played most of Sugar’s ‘Copper Blue’ then some stormers from his new record, then a fistful of Husker Du favourites. It was fucking ridiculous.
7. Manic Street Preachers – Newport Centre –Newport, Wales
A rammed homecoming show, a fantastic new album to promote and ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ played second on the set list. Masterful gig, masterful band.
8. Shellac – Netil House –Hackney, London
Though they’ve been trotting this set out for what feels like decades it never gets tired – the band are magnetic, truly charming and they play like men possessed, always.
9. Hookworms – Electric Ballroom -Camden, London
Sad to say the only ‘new’ band on the list. Supporting the lunk-headed Pissed Jeans was a chore well below them but they shone regardless – droning, aggressive, tuneful, beautiful.
10. Low – Green Man Festival –Glanusk, Wales
One of the better live bands over the last decade or so played a blinder against the setting of the beautiful mountains of Glanusk. Slow, sad and simple their melancholia peaked with a glimmering rendition of Neil Young’s ‘Down By The River’. Michael James Hall
Simon Godley’s Gigs of 2013
1. The Rolling Stones – Glastonbury
Forget all about the overblown pomp surrounding this show, the associated money and the fact that these are men of pensionable age extolling the many virtues of youthful rebellion, desire and sexual conquest. The music that The Rolling Stones continue to produce live is still one of the most genuinely intense and exhilarating experiences you are ever likely to have and as the rest of the weekend unfolds it becomes even more apparent that they are still the greatest rock n roll band in the world today.
2. Bob Dylan – Blackpool Opera House
Much has been said about the disrepair of the singer’s voice, how shot it has become, how it has been reduced to some indecipherable croak. Here it sounds exactly as it is, an indefatigable instrument that has been immersed in more than fifty years of experience; half a century of heart, hope, humanity and history. Things may well have changed but this is the voice of Bob Dylan. It is still the voice of a generation. Cherish it while you still can.
3. Dexys – Stockton Weekender
As Rowland and his excellent vocal and personal foil Pete Williams leave the stage to rapturous applause and the closing bars of ‘This Is What She’s Like’, the euphoria of Dexys’ performance is tinged with the sadness of knowing that the Stockton Weekender is finally over for another year. Yet amongst this regret is the firm belief that through detailed planning, clear organisation and the maintenance of a careful balance between promoting local and national artists Stockton Weekender has once more delivered the most successful of music festivals.
4. Terry Reid – The Duchess, York
You do sense that Terry Reid can see both the paradox and irony of having juxtaposed ‘Stairway To Heaven’ with ‘Rich Kid Blues’. Though the Led Zeppelin connection (and a very similar experience with Deep Purple years later) is the context in which his career is almost always placed, it is clearly something that has neither defined his music nor his life. You can still hear exactly why Jimmy Page wanted him as lead vocalist for his new band for Reid still possesses one of the greatest soul-inspired voices in contemporary music, resting as it does on an axis somewhere between vintage Otis Redding and Steve Marriott. But transcending even that incredible instrument of his is the fact that Terry Reid is afree, independent spirit and natural born survivor. Reid, who has lived in California for the past 36 years, returns to this country in May to play some more dates. Do yourself a huge favour and go and see him.
5. Spiritualized – Holmfirth Picturedrome
6. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Newcastle Arena
By this time the performance has moved into a different stratosphere, an altogether higher plane of experience, as Neil Young and Crazy Horse plot a zigzagged map across both his and their formidable back pages from the still burning after all these years fires of ‘Mr Soul and ‘Cinnamon Girl’ to the more recently resuscitated Re-Ac-Tor album track ‘Surfer Joe and Moe The Sleaze’, before signing off with a life-affirming blast of ‘Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)’and its now immortal lines of “it’s better to burn out, ’cause rust never sleeps, the king is gone, but he’s not forgotten”. Fortunately this king has not yet gone, and you sense that he will never be forgotten. But time is running out for us all and you would be well advised to catch him and what is the world’s greatest backing band whilst you still can.
7. Michael Nyman – Howard Assembly Room, Leeds
This was ultimately far much more than mere music from and for film. It was a remarkable, occasionally brilliant aural and visual representation of the concepts of accident and chance, brought to life through the imagination of one man. That man was, and is Michael Nyman. And as if to underline the sheer normality which formed the basis to this vision after his performance he stayed behind to sign a few CDs before promptly dashing off to catch his train home.
8. Pea Sea – The Basement, York
Whatever a musician should look like, he patently does not. And whilst he may have been touched by a myriad of influences from David Byrne to Will Oldham he does not sound like all the rest. Like the title of the forthcoming album, he operates in an area that lies somewhere in between, but one that occupies its very own space. To experience his songs is to open a dusty old treasure chest of personal recollections and allow them to come to life. But it is perhaps on one of the three songs that he covers tonight, Simon Joyner’s “When She Drops Her Veil”, that the sheer effortless beauty of the vehicle that is Pea Sea is at its finest. It brings to a close a quite perfect evening during which the incredulity of so few people being here is consumed by the euphoria that only experiencing such exquisite music in an intimate live setting can truly bring.
9. Lulu James – The Faversham, Leeds
By now it feels like a long haul back up to The Faversham and it is one that will require the benefit of automated transport, but it is a journey that proves to be so worthwhile. Lulu James packs into twenty minutes what ultimately proves to be the show of the day. It is an exercise in how to marry sassy showmanship with new-age soul and one of the best super lunged voices this side of her namesake Etta. It is a towering performance, remarkable in how she manages to get from nought to sixty in such a short space of time before signing off with an inspirational walk through her forthcoming single and would-be dance floor classic Creation Of Love.
10. Jenn Bostic/Emma Stevens – Fibbers, York
‘Missin’ A Man’, an extremely powerful ‘Give Me Back My Pride’ and the closing ‘Not Yet’ – which packs an almost exultant emotional punch – are three songs that signpost the listener to some of the darker clouds that have hung over Bostic’s life, but it is surely ‘Jealous of the Angels’ that forms the centrepiece of this sadness. Since appropriated by thousands of the bereaved as an unofficial anthem for their loss, it is a song inspired by the death of Bostic’s father in an automobile accident when she was only ten years old. In less capable hands it could be an overly sentimental outpouring of grief yet here it is a genuinely moving tour de force. Accompanying herself on piano and performed in an otherwise complete and rapt silence, Bostic imbues the song’s fundamental suffering with colossal feelings of solace and sanguinity.
And it is this tie that ultimately binds Jenn Bostic and Emma Stevens together. For all of the differences that their musical styles may possess and for all of the sadness that may continue to touch their individual lives, their music is infused with a firm belief in the power of love and deep hope for the future.
Keira Brown’s Gigs of 2013
Yo La Tengo – 31st October, Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik (Iceland Airwaves)
Headlining the Thursday night at Airwaves, a young but vibrant Icelandic festival, were New Jersey rockers, Yo La Tengo, admitting to it being their debut at this festival, as part of an outrageously long UK tour. They were as any fan of YLT would expect: unpredictably intense. Ira, with a plentiful supply of guitars on stage to pick from (or for him to pick), was frequently intercepting guitars in a fashion that suggested a clear attention deficit.
Albeit clear that only the die-hard hipsters and buffs were going to still be around at the end of this set (there was a fantastic element of self-indulgence present, with a set that went well beyond it’s allocated time) this was a gig on an epic scale. It really set the tone for a tour that looked like it would keep it’s fans on their toes, as it appeared that Ira had not rehearsed, reminding me of the improvisational style of Damo Suzuki. One thing lacking though was a nicer homage to Lou Reed, considering their past performances.
Bjork – 8th March, Le Zenith, Porte de Pantin, Nr Paris
For a year predominantly filled with watching Icelandic artists on stage, it was certainly given it’s benchmark with this one early in the year. In a venue just outside of Paris, with a layout akin to a Mexican wrestling ring, the audience were given a fantastic view of this surreal performance no matter where they were sat. And considering that Bjork herself was sporting a fat suit and colorful wig, amidst a choir of Icelandic children, resembling elves of folklore, there was much to keep the visual senses stimulated.
With a setlist heavy with new Biophilia album/app tracks, including the wonderful narration by the unexpected but equally eccentric David Attenborough, this was a fabulous opportunity to hear the not yet exhausted Bjork. Don’t get me wrong; there were a few Volta tracks as well as well-knowns such as Pagan Poetry and Where is the Line, and these were certainly not to be scoffed at.
Sigur Ros – 18th October, Maida Vale Studios, London
It is true when they say that nothing quite compares to the intimate gig, in which there are only maybe like seventy of you in a room with an epic band, which you admire. Now throw in the fact that it’s at midday on a Fridayafternoon, then also throw in some Icelandic artwork, intimate lightbulbs on stands and a living room rug, and then on top of ought else it is Sigur Ros, a band which can only be described as unique.
With a set that included Stormur, Kveikur and Glosoli, flawlessly performed for a recording, within this ambient, snug setting, our only groan was about having to stand for the entirety of this gig for a band whose tracks average a length of approximately seven or eight minutes. It was, however, worth every groan.
Mum – Friday 1st Nov, Frirkirkjan, Reykjavik, (Iceland Airwaves)
For a band I knew little about apart from the odd listen to Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy, I was transformed by this idyllic Winter gig. Understanding that it had been a lengthly period of time since they had last played in this town, the queue to enter this venue (which was a church that saw Iceland’s first gay couple wed) was extensive to put it lightly. As many had not been as lucky as I (being one of the last forty to enter the building) there were red rosy faces eagerly peering into the windows; those inside were intermittently cleaning the steam from these windows so that these eager faces could gaze into this fantastic sight of the classically avant garde.
Múm’s striking performance fuelled with strings, electronic glitch beats and soft vocals had a pronounced effect on it’s audience, comparable to opium, as one by one, their crowd were slowly drifting off into an Icelandic sleep, their nightmares filled with Nordic folklore no doubt.
Ben P Scott’s Gigs of 2013
1. Suede – Bristol Academy
2. James/Echo And The Bunnymen – Bristol Colston Hall
3. I Am Kloot – Bristol Trinity
4. The Fall – Bristol Trinity
5. Sparks – Bristol Academy
6. Django Django/Miles Kane/Palma Violets – Bristol Academy
7. Frenzy – Bradford-On-Avon
8. Thought Forms/Teeth Of The Sea/Esben And The Witch – Bristol Exchange
9. Sam Lee – Bristol Folkhouse
10. Hell Death Fury – Bradford-On-Avon
David Edwards’s gigs of 2013
1. Portishead – Glastonbury
Grown men and women are hugging and kissing each other with sheer joy as Gibbons’ soaring cries (actually on the verge of breaking now) echo out over the field. It has been one of the most ethereally beautiful tracks ever recorded for so long but it has never been sung like it is tonight. And then, as the furious electronic clatter and clamour of ‘We Carry On’ envelopes the crowd like a gloved hand, something quite remarkable happens. Putting down her Becks beer and her cigarette, Beth suddenly and instinctively darts down the staircase and begins working her way along the crowd: embracing and shaking hands – the crowd in rapt amazement at this gesture of emotion from one of music’s most shy and reluctant singers. And then, as the crowd erupts in acclaim at the final close, Beth appears back at the microphone – face in creases of joy and shrugging with incredulity. “Thank you so much” she stutters. And then, almost unbelievably “I hope it was alright“. At those words, any remaining sinews holding your heart together finally break and fly apart. No Beth, it wasn’t alright. Far from it. It was one of the finest and most singularly striking performances to grace the fields of Glastonbury. Or any field, hall or stage for that matter. There are so many superlatives that could have been comfortably hung on this performance. One will do for here and now in summation: Special. Truly, truly special. And if these are the moments that life is made of then this particular memory will loom – black, gold, flawless and beautiful – above so many years and performances to come.
2. Sigur Ros – Manchester Apollo
3. Public Image Ltd. – Glastonbury
4. The National – Manchester Apollo
5. Arcade Fire – Blackpool Empress Ballroom
Mike Hughes’s Gigs of 2013
Chvrches, Young Fathers- Sound Control, Manchester
That there are only maybe four songs that you might have heard on radio sessions doesn’t in any way affect the instinctive feeling of familiarity. Alongside any feelings of coziness, it’s heady and exhilarating stuff. The crowd are not yet at the stage of chanting every word back, but there’s clearly a lot of love for them in the room; the strange sight of indie-bloke gig-goers, who would on any other occasion be rooted to the spot gazing at their shoes, tonight dancing in the third row.
KATE NASH, The Tuts – East Village Arts Club, Liverpool
I’ve not known an artist in recent years so effortlessly able to polarise opinion amongst my indier-than-thou circle of friends. At the same time it’s hard to think of many musicians that are impressing me more, and even harder to list the very small number that I simply enjoy right now as much as I do Kate Nash.
CSS, MIXHELL, WET MOUTH, LIVERPOOL
They went off, they came back, and they played ‘Alala’ followed by ‘Art Bitch’ – “Lick lick lick my art-tit / Suck suck suck my art-hole” has to be the ultimate singalong chant. The played out with ‘I’ve Seen You Drunk Gurl’, their single from a couple of months ago. The rapping chant gives Ana chance to front it up there alongside Lovefoxxx. Along with the other new track, the crazy fiesta of ‘Hangover’, it gives notice that the new album, only weeks away, will be a no compromise party animal. ‘Drunk Gurl’, ‘Hangover’, drink anyone? That was one hell of a gig, twenty four hours later I’m aching all over from the dancing – that’s the effect CSS can have on you.
PINS- DEAF INSTITUTE, Mancheser
Thirteen brilliant songs, no encore. It was somehow fitting that they closed with‘Girls Like Us’ which shares a name and a sensibility with the otherwise unrelated song by the Julie Ruin, Kathleen Hanna’s band of the moment. Without coming out with any mystic clap-trap about carrying some R-grrl torch, it’s a nice connection.
Still convinced that I’ve seen the future? Fuck yeah!
The Joy Formidable- Ritz Ballroom, Manchester
Much as I was enjoying my eyrie, it was time to move, and I hustled back down stairs, hugging the wall, my camera over my head granting me safe passage to a gap I’d spotted on the barrier extreme stage right. I was in time for the finger wagging telling off, then to see Ritzy climb down into the pit to exchange hugs with more of the faithful. The band came to the end of their official set list, went off, came back and played a beautiful encore of ‘Forest Serenade’, a time-slowing version of ‘Wolf’s Law’s title track before letting loose on their classic ‘Whirring’, most of which Ritzy played stood on Matt’s drum kit, before climbing over to finish the gig with a resounding whack of that massive gong that gets lugged around to be hit precisely once per concert.
Bill Cummings’s Gigs of 2013
1. Martin Rossiter -Clwb, Ifor Bach Cardiff
At a time when some music is transient and artists are often governed by trends, bandwagons, their labels and the need for congratulation, eight years out of the business appears to have only clarified Martin Rossiter’s need to create art for himself. Shorn of affectation, with just voice and piano, he produced one of the most towering solo records I’ve heard in a long time. Tonight it’s an achievement matched by his wonderful stage craft and captivating voice. The Morrisseycomparisons are too obvious but this sensitive, wonderful artist has carved his own niche and has let us into his life: I for one don’t want his voice to leave us again.
2. Akala – Moon Club, Cardiff
‘You can keep the charts all I want is your hearts’ Akala chants as he climbs the side of the stage offering his mic to call and response of the front row during the bluesy licks, drum fills and soulful crescendos of closer ‘Find No Enemy’. A searing burnt manifesto, a critique of ‘urban’ music culture that concentrates on‘tits and arse’ that forgets its blues history (Miles Davis, Hendrix, Billie Holliday) and celebrates ‘Clowns that swing their dicks around’ that Akala is the absolute antithesis of all of these commercialised stereotypes, that his voice is raw and authentic, his music stripped back to the old school, his words brutal and challenging of the class divide, all of this makes him one of the most important figures in UK Hip hop in 2013. And tonight in this dark corner of Cardiff he is our empowering leader.
3. Laurence Made Me Cry – Buffalo Bar, Cardiff
Gorgeous songwriting from Cardiff resident Jo Whitby and her assorted cast of contributors including Alone, Pulco and others. All framed in a delicious backdrop interspersed with movie, found and animated footage…
4. Manic Street Preachers – Newport Centre
Sweaty, dark, and crammed, we couldn’t move despite that it was another great gig from the Welsh rock survivors.We are treated to an eclectic set-list featuring some of their more atmospheric works and a smattering of their new album. James’s acoustic rendition of ‘The Everlasting’ has stuck with me…
5. Quiet Marauder – The Moon Club, Cardiff
Insane tomfoolery from Cardiff’s most anarchic anti-folk supergroup, kitchen utensils, murder, Burt Reynold’s Masks, the male psyche these guys and gals had it all!
via Bill Cummings God Is In The TV http://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk/2013/12/31/giittvs-gigs-of-2013/