Your gigs of the year 2019

As the title says, what are your gigs of the year? Any stunners? Any surprises? Any let downs?

I probably went to more gigs this year than my ears/liver should be subjected too. A pretty good year for gigs for me. Bands like Suede, Desperate Journalist and Fightmilk I’ve seen many times before and I know I’ll have a great evening even before they start playing. Loads of brilliant new bands for me too. Here’s my top ten.

1. Brandi Carlile at Madison Square Garden
Her album last year passed me by. Luckily heard her name mentioned here and there and checked her out a few months before the concert. Her last album would have made my top three of 2018 without a doubt. The concert was the highlight of my trip to NYC. Mavis Staples was supporting and both artists gave amazing heartfelt and warm performances and both came across as just lovely people. Me and those around me had a big silly smile during the concert and I also had a smile for the day after just thinking about it. I’ll have a lovely lasting memory of the show and the day as a whole for a long time. Stunning concert. Easily my gig of the year.

2. The Who - Wembley Stadium
Eddie Vedder was supporting. I’ll confess that I’m not a huge Who or Pearl Jam fan (but absolutely love Ten) and really only got tickets as my Dad wanted to go. It was a great day out with him and it was definitely a brilliant show. My Dad loved the concert and I really just enjoyed his level of enjoyment of it of it all.

3. Soap&Skin - EArtH
A perfect venue for her and her sound. One of the stand out albums of last year. A stunning gig. I hope she doesn’t leave it too long before playing London again.

4. Anna Calvi - The Roundhouse
I’d seen her at The Luminaire many years ago and heard some of her previous albums. Her first two albums were good but not too impressive. Her last album was brilliant and she basically owned The Roundhouse that evening. Amazing stage presence.

5. Laura Gibson - St John’s Church at Bethnal Green
Love the venue. Prefer it far more than Union Chapel or St Pancras Old Church if we’re comparing church venues. I was under a huge amount of stress at my previous job. Her last album buffered my mood during listening and this concert was an evening of calm during a horrific week at work.

6. Self Esteem - The Village Underground
Her album is one of the best of the year. As with my 5th choice I went to the gig very pissed off with things at work and things in general and wasn’t expecting too much despite loving the album. She absolutely killed it live. The audience fed off her fun, charm and warmth and she fed right back off the audience. Yes, cheesy to type that but that was my take. Brilliant fun.

7. Press Club - New Cross Inn
One of the best live bands currently. Two brilliant albums out this year and I haven’t seen a front man/woman with her energy in years. I had a drink with @hip_young_gunslinger during the gig and several more with @Scott_Chegg after it. Great night out.

8. Desperate Journalist - Rough Trade East
Their album launch. Great live as ever and album is one of my favourites of the year. I got to say a quick hello during the signing. Bonus.

9. Fightmilk - Paper Dress Vintage
Great fun live as always and the new songs sound excellent. Jemma Freeman who I’d never seen live before was on the bill; a brilliant artist who should be huge. A great double bill gig.

10. The Pretenders/Suede - Shepherds Bush Empire
A double co-headline benefit concert for a mutual friend/crew member of theirs in poor health. They both performed brilliant near Best Of sets. Loved it.

Honorable mentions to Art Brut twice, Our Girl three times, Bikini Kill twice, Camp Cope, Damon and Naomi, Goat Girl, The Limiñanas and Vera Sola for great gigs this year.

They’re my best of the year. Please share yours.

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  • Top 5:

1 daughters (brudenell)
2 sunn o))) (roundhouse)
3 fka twigs (o2 brixton)
4 blanck mass (scala)
5 rafael anton irisarii (cafe oto)

Three of those are very recent so it might change once a little more time has passed. Saw Daughters twice this year, but that gig at the Brudenell was particularly incredible.

  • Most out-and-out-fun: Health (Oval Space).

This narrowly missed my top 5. Love this band, played a great set.

  • Most surprising: Jessica Moss (Head of Steam).

Violinist with loop pedals and some slight electronic touches. Beautiful stuff. Hadn’t heard of her till the day before. Everyone sat down and it was very chilled. Some people were crying. It was very memorable and special.

  • Most headliner-upstaged-by-the-support: Many Rooms (supporting Soft Kill at New Cross Inn).

Grouper/Mitski esque solo guitar. There was a vulnerability/raw emotion there that was very engaging.

  • Most strangest moment: Tough call this, maybe when Black Country New Road played Sunglasses at the 100 Club

Felt like/the crowd reacted like it was a band playing one of their big hits, several albums in…

  • Most poorly-attended and this band needs more love: Big Brave (Cluny).

If I recall they had a horrible gig clash, and there was only 20 odd people there. Real shame. I loved it.

  • Most disappointing: Young Fathers (Boiler Shop).

Feel harsh putting this in there because they weren’t actively bad, but they played one of the worst venues in Newcastle. Terrible acoustics and soulless inside. A few years before they played Riverside and that’s maybe in my top 10 gigs ever, but this felt a bit limp. Still love them and will see them again ASAP.

  • Best venue: The Brudenell (as always!)

  • Worst venue: Electric Ballroom maybe?

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Came here to say Daughters at the brude. Yeah, that was perfect.

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Jason Lytle at the brudenell was also pretty special this year.

Big thief at the le brudenelloi

Press Club - Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Self Esteem - The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
The Twilight Sad - Barrowlands, Glasgow
Mogwai - Bellahouston Park, Glasgow

All in London unless indicated.

  1. Joanna Newsom at El Teatro of El Museo del Barrio (New York)
  2. Low at the Barbican
  3. FKA Twigs at the Alexandra Palace Theatre
  4. Peaches at the Royal Festival Hall
  5. Lizzo at This Is Not A Love Song (Nîmes)
  6. Mount Eerie at EartH
  7. Nick Cave at the Barbican
  8. Metz at the MOTH Club
  9. Bikini Kill at the Brixton Academy
  10. The Spook School at The Garage

Honourable mentions for Yo La Tengo, Xiu Xiu, Josephine Foster, Aldous Harding, It It Anita, Sacred Paws, Mark Eitzel, Scalping, Ty Segall, Holly Herndon and Lightning Bolt

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Lumen Project, Stockholm

  • I was working at this - a full day of ambient and drone. Amazing lineup incl Moor Mother, Julianna Barwick, Noveller, Lau Nau, Subchamber Ensemble etc etc. Amazing venue, incredible lighting design, just overall loved the experience.

Big Brave at Hus 7, Stockholm

  • Absolutely insane, perfect venue, perfect sound and the band who made my aoty on absolutely storming form. My Disco were awesome in support as well which helped.

Daughters at Slaktkyrkan, Stockholm

  • Took a bit of time to get going but then tore the roof off

Pile at If Not Now When, Oxford

  • Cheating as I put this festival on myself, but Pile absolutely broke the place, they were so good, so intense, and really awesome guys to boot.

Shai Maestro at Fasching, Stockholm

  • Magical - he’s at the top of his game at the moment.

Pom Poko at Snotty’s Seaside, Stockholm

  • A late entrant, they were SUPER fun and just completely joy throughout.
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Janelle Monae @ Castlefield Bowl

Thursday @ Electric Ballroom

Birds in Row @ Damnation

Daughters @ Deaf Institute

"68 @ The Ritz (supporting POD and Alien Ant Farm lol)

A toss-up between Laura Gibson at The Hug & Pint and Lankum at Stereo.

I’ve lost count of how many dull solo acoustic gigs I’ve been to in the last few years, but Laura Gibson was completely engaging from start to finish. I hadn’t appreciated how varied her guitar playing was before.

Lankum was a drunken singalong in a basement venue. Most outright fun I’ve had at a gig in years.

Special mentions also go to Sharon van Etten at Leith Theatre and Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi at the Usher Hall. And The Cure just for being The Cure.

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Low at The Barbican , Daughters at The Brude

Guided By Voices at Village Underground. Went to some other good ones but this one was the best by miles.

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Started doing a top 10. Ended up with a top 20 - lots of good gigs this year…

  1. Holly Herndon @ Barbican - just visually and sonically amazing.

  2. Let’s Eat Grandma @ Lattidue Festival - how young are these guys? Beautifully touching but also great fun.

  3. Anna Calvi @ The Roundhouse - as @BMS1 notes up ^there, she has kicked it up several notches on album number 3.

  4. International Teachers Of Pop @ The Lexington - just hook the pop straight into my veins.

  5. Pet Shop Boys @ 229 The Venue - was excited about seeing them the following day at Hyde Park and then they go and trump it by playing a tiny room the night before.

  6. Bikini Kill @ Brixton Academy - didn’t think we’d see these guys ride again. Crappy sound was more than offset by just how much of an event this felt like.

  7. Idles @ Electric Ballroom - big year for these lads. Believe the hype, they are the real deal live and on record.

  8. Tropical Fuck Storm @ Dingwalls - For me, these guys are even better live than on record.

  9. FKA Twigs @ Brixton Academy - more of a performance than a gig. This had just about everything going on.

  10. Die Antwoord @ Brixton Academy - not been a fan of these guys previously, but my sister dragged me along and I’m glad she did - lots of fun.

  11. Madonnatron @ The Moth Club - brilliant second album and brilliant live.

  12. Flaming Lips @ Brixton Academy - performing The Soft Bulletin in full, a reminder of why we fell in love with them in the first place.

  13. Ex Hex @ Village Underground - these guys rock so hard. Some folk on here seemed a bit disappointed by the second album, but I rinsed it over the summer.

  14. A Place To Bury Strangers @ Latitude Festival - they played The Sunrise Arena which might be my favourite place in the world to watch music. Weird to see them in full daylight!

  15. Neneh Cherry @ Latitude Festival - I actually had to leave Neneh Cherry before the end to get to the ^above mentioned APTBS set, which was a wrench as she is an amazing performer.

  16. Blanck Mass @ The Scala - brilliant punishingly loud stuff.

  17. Chromatics @ The Roundhouse - lovely lovely stuff, with probably the best visuals of any gig I went to this year.

  18. Public Enemy @ Wembley Arena - even a venue as duff as Wembley can’t dampen PE. Still mighty in 2019.

  19. Underworld @ Latitude Festival - great to see them close the main stage on the Saturday night. Been awhile since I’d seen them on a stage this big, and they still own it.

  20. Bananarama @ Hyde Park - ngl, love these guys…

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I know a lot of people on here hate this place but I quite like it :man_shrugging:

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  1. Low @ WUK, Vienna
    Just a sensational set… The Double Negative songs were absolutely immense live, plus we got Sunflower and Do You Know To Waltz.

  2. Neneh Cherry @ The Academy, Dublin
    One of the most fun gigs i’ve ever been to. Chemistry between performer and crowd was unbelievable.

  3. Sharon Van Etten @ Vicar Street, Dublin
    Just great… seeing Seventeen live is an experience

  4. Jason Lyttle @ Roisin Dubh, Galway
    Magical stuff. A treasure.

  5. Jenny Lewis @ The Academy, Dublin
    Great performer touring a really fine album. Even threw in some Rilo Kiley.

  6. Anais Mitchell @ Dolans, Limerick
    Lovely intimate gig. May have shed a tear when she played Shepherd.

  7. The Delines @ Roisin Dubh, Galway
    Always great to hear Willy Vlautin’s songs and Amy Boone’s voice is quite something to witness up close.

Also enjoyed seeing Jeffrey Lewis, Tiny Ruins (one of my albums of the year) and Haley Hendrickx in Dolans, Limerick… but unfortunately all were poorly supported. Hope they can continue to attract artists like this and that a decent gig going community/market emerges

In no particular order, I’d go with…

Cult of Luna/Brutus/AA Williams @ Electric Ballroom
Fucked Up @ The Garage
Low @ Barbican
Teeth Of The Sea @ Science Museum IMAX
Converge @ Electric Ballroom
Svalbard/Ithaca @ Boston Music Room

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Best atmosphere: Twilight Sad at the Usher Hall. Never seen a crowd so purely positive and supportive and loving of a band before, truly felt luke a reunion/homecoming/victory lap moment. Also streaming with tears during Keep Yourself Warm

Best actual gig: BODEGA at Summerhall. Full on post punk party band, bewitching, engaging, threw myself into the mosh pit with a bunch of first years and had a shout along riot together. Everything sounded better live and lifted their album to maybe my fav guitar based one of the decade

Best memories/most life affirming: Guided By Voices at Village Underground. Icarus can back me up here. GBV! GBV! GBV!

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I was trying to do a top 5, but couldn’t whittle it down below 6 - see here you go:

Bjork @ The O2 - Not so much a gig as an immersive audio visual experience. Just fucking magical.

Fucked Up @ Patterns, Brighton - Doing what they do best.

Cult of Luna @ Electric Ballroom - Intense, and so very, very heavy. I don’t get the dislike for the venue either.

Crippled Black Phoenix @ Camden Underworld - Criminally under-appreciated band, and at the very top of their game - although launching into a 20 minute cover version of Pink Floyd’s Echoes at 11pm tested my ability to make the train home.

Pharcyde @ Highbury Garage - The Pharcyde would have been (and were) great by themselves - but then Akil from Jurassic 5 joined them onstage, and they stormed through a version of Concrete Schoolyard.

Neil Young / Bob Dylan @ Hyde Park - Not sure that I need to say anything about this one.

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  1. Big Thief (Bristol SWX)
  2. IDLES (Cardiff Tramshed)
  3. Bob Dylan (New York Beacon Theatre)
  4. Eddie Vedder (Dublin 3Arena)
  5. Pixies (Cardiff Motorpoint)

in no order:

Girl Band, Vicar Street, Dublin
Really great to see them again after a four year gap. Bigger venue than I’m used to seeing them in but sounded great regardless and a very up-for-it crowd. enjoyed Powpig’s support set too

Guided by Voices, Village Underground, London
One of my favourite bands ever and I never thought I’d get to see them live so this was very fun. I’d have liked a couple less new songs and a couple more classics but still a pretty good setlist overall and a couple of the massive crowd singalongs got me almost feeling a little bit emotional.

Wand, Ulster Sports Club, Belfast
Quite liked some of their stuff previous to this but they didn’t seem as essential as some of their peers (see below), and I almost didn’t go to this as I already had a ticket for Villagers for the same night. Glad I went as they blew me away. Also my first time in this great new venue (well, a newly repurposed old venue), tiny room with amazing sound. Bought 2 of their albums at the merch stand and have picked up a couple more since and been listening to them solidly ever since.

Oh Sees, Limelight, Belfast
Saw them for the first time in Manchester last year but nice to see them again on home turf with some friends. Longer set with a couple more favourites thrown in and plenty of long jams. Just one of the best live bands around and John Dwyer is a proper guitar hero.

Ty Segall, Oval Space, London
Missed him in Dublin last year as he clashed with Nick Cave but been dying to see him since and have been caning his live album from this year. Was very happy to see him do Manipulator in full along with First Taste. It was a bit uncomfortable crowded towards the front of the room and the sound was a bit muddy for First Taste but still a pretty great show with tons of energy.

Hot Snakes, Black Box, Belfast
This was just the other night, another show with tons of energy as they ploughed through song after song in quick succession. Some very enthusiastic fellas down the front. Fun stuff.

Stephen Malkmus, Whelans, Dublin
Saw him with the Jicks in Vicar Street last year but it was pretty cool to see him on his own in really intimate surroundings. Played a lot of Groove Denied stuff with a laptop, a few Pavement tunes with just a guitar, and two Silver Jews songs which felt pretty special as it was only a month or so after David Berman’s passing.

Bill Callahan, Vicar Street, Dublin
Lovely chilled out seated gig. Never seen him before and not entirely sold on the new album but it all sounded lovely with plenty of older tunes including a couple of old Smog songs thrown in. Still remember the crowd joining in with a big cheer when the last chorus of Drover started up which was really nice.

The Twilight Sad, Empire Music Hall, Belfast
Hadn’t seen them in 4 years, bit of a step up in venue size from their last couple of visits. Their strange travelling fan club all seemed to be there, not sure about them in general but they did give the show a pretty special atmosphere by being incredibly into it and passionate - just as long as I don’t have to talk to any of them. Also supported by the always great Just Mustard, though they do always sound better in smaller venues (looking forward to seeing them again this week doing a headline show)

mclusky, Voodoo, Belfast
Another ‘never thought I’d see them’ gig, even if it’s not quite the proper lineup. Saw them in St Lukes in Glasgow a month before which was very enjoyable but the Belfast show in a smaller, sweatier venue right up the front was far more exciting, and the band seemed to be loving the energy as well.

Lankum w/ Junior Brother, Empire Music Hall, Belfast
Two great folk artists at the peak of their powers. Packed venue and the massive queue to get in meant I missed the start of Junior Brother but I managed to catch him supporting someone else a couple of weeks later (annoyed I’m missing his headline show before Christmas). I saw Lankum touring the last album but their droney new stuff is great, this was the day before the new album came out so it was my first time hearing most of the songs. Crowd were that strange mixture of being a bit chatty but also showing huge enthusiasm/appreciation at the end of every song.

Plenty of other good ones too - a couple of nice outdoor summer shows with mates (Idles / Rolling Blackouts / The Claque was a particularly good lineup, though I still want to see a Rolling Blackouts headline set), managed to see the likes of Steve Mason, Spiral Stairs and Jason Lytle all airing a few songs from their old bands, managed to catch Kathryn Joseph three times in three different formats, plenty more as well. still got a couple more gigs to go this week as well.

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