Note that reviews of a lot of these gigs can be found by following the links from the we saw… (live reviews) section on my sidebar.
1. Le Tigre / Valerie
Attitudinous, shouty, colourful, eloquent, angry, groovy, cool, sussed, delirious, provocative, visual, inspirational, timeless/contemporary, femino-punk heaven. As perfect a gig as anyone could ever wish for. What’s more, Kathleen Hanna seemed to think the same way. We all struck it lucky that night.
2. Kevin Ayers
Some old heroes actually won’t let you down. More than made up for the disappointment of 22 years ago. Great guitarist he’s got with him these days.
3. Brian Wilson
Despite some early wobbles, this is a concert that – in my memory of it – has steadily grown in stature ever since. Always a good sign. And he played Pet Sounds in full, and I ask you: what could be better than that?
4. Neil Diamond
A masterclass in how to work an arena crowd. The most extraordinary synergy between performer and audience that I have ever seen.
5. Patti Smith
Age has not dimmed her. Incandescent, righteous stuff.
6. Groove Armada / Dirty Vegas
Groove Armada smash up the coffee table and get back to their dance roots. If only their new album had sounded half this good. Dirty Vegas: best received support act of the year.
7. The Bellrays / The D4
Rock. And. F***ing. Roll!!!
8. Doves / The Coral / Athlete
While the much anticipated Coral mostly disappointed, the previously dismissed Doves had me converted in a trice. Best set opening of the year (Pounding, There Goes The Fear). So good that I even moshed – and I do not mosh. Oh, and we liked Athlete. Nice boys.
9. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
The Jesus And Mary Chain re-incarnated. Actually, I remember very few details from this gig. Which is sometimes the best indication.
10. Butterflies Of Love / Tompaulin / The Chemistry Experiment
And the same thing applies for the Butterflies. Soundtrack to a damned good piss-up, essentially.
11. Richard Ashcroft
First half: pleasant, competent, somewhat dull. Second half: just stunning. Best vocal performance of the year.
12. The Streets / Blackalicious
Mike Skinner makes it all look so deceptively easy. Much sharper than he likes to pretend he is.
13. Kylie Minogue
And she even reached all the right notes, bless her! Spectacle of the year. If only we had danced a bit more.
This one was all about the crowd. Plus, Liam was born to sing My Generation. He may be a twat, but he still makes a damned good rock star.
15. The Libertines
Full on! An unstoppable force of nature. Shortest set of the year. Not a minute wasted.
16. Badly Drawn Boy
Surprisingly charming. Longest set of the year. Not a minute wasted.
In Sherwood Forest, no less. Will we ever see their like again?
18. The Musical Box
Genesis tribute band! Oh yes! That Selling England By The Pound tour in full! Yougoddaproblemwiddatorsumpin?
19. Pet Shop Boys
Real instruments! Musicianly values! No dancers! The occasional faint glimpses of emotion! Whatever next?
20. Manic Street Preachers / Ian Brown
The Manics started brilliantly, sagged badly, then rallied just in time. Ian Brown is an arrogant, talentless wanker with no singing voice whatsoever, and turned in by far the worst performance of the year.
Damo Suzuki’s Network / The Telescopes
Hours and hours of densely improvised goobeldygook which trod a fine line between genius and tedium. And he hugged us! Each and every one!
Mudhoney / The Alchemysts / The Catheters
Skull-crushingly heavy. Not Really My Thing, but plenty of good reasons for being plenty of other people’s Thing.
Amazing guitar work and all that, BUT I COULDN’T BLOODY SEE ANYTHING!
The next big thing? With the amount of money that is being spent on them, this is entirely possible, I’m afraid. Some undeniably great hooks, but minimal stage presence, communication or (most fatally of all) passion. Careerists through and through. Looked like they were quickly, grudgingly “paying their dues” before that all-important Glastonbury tea-time slot next summer (er, whoops!)
Beth Orton / Ed Harcourt
Suffocatingly one-dimensional niceness without end.
Just another day at the office, was it?
Oh dear, she’s gone Pop. And stretched every number out to ten minutes plus. Woefully short on focus and…you know…Soul?