Posts Tagged ‘Top Lists’

Londongigger’s Top 10 Concerts of 2014.

And the winner is …. Kate Bush. Not on your life!

If picking your Top gigs of the year was a horse race,Kate Bush would be subject to a steward’s enquiry. While critics and celebrities raved about her performance, it was hard to find a mere mortal who had been able to get a ticket let alone for one of her 21 sold out shows at the Lyceum. Tickets prices exchanging on ticket resellers at obscene amounts of money were absolutely scandalous. Anyone who paid these prices would have been safe in the knowledge that were contributing to the Kate Bush retirement fund. At the very least tickets should have been balloted at face value for real fans with an average income. But enough of the bitchiness. Who were my real winners? This year had far more of a mix of commercial as well as indie and the odd unknown artist. Here’s the list  from 1 to 5 for which a longer review will appear in subsequent posts.

    1. Katy Perry. The O2 Arena, London, UK, May 28th 2014
Spectacular Katy Perry - flying through the air with the greatest ease, The O2 Arena, London UK, May 28th 2014

Spectacular Katy Perry – flying through the air with the greatest ease, The O2 Arena, London UK, May 28th 2014

Hats off to Katy Perry who managed to convert this sceptic with a fun lively commercial show that managed to visually overpower the senses while combining the insanely catch poppy tunes. The opneing – “Roar” announced the colour of the show. The highlights were seeing her enter after one of new numerous costume changes, on a giant model of a horse or camel, flying around the circumference of the arena on wires while singing and singing Happy Birthday  to a guy plucked out of the audience on giant podium in the middle of the arena. In short; a spectacular creative gig, finishing off with the anthemic Firework that showed commercial rivals how it should be done. Taylor Swift- time to step up to the plate.

    1. Stromae. Hammersmith Apollo. London UK, December 9th 2014
Stromae's stunning music and  cinematic backdrop hits the spot at Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, December 9th 2014, London UK

Stromae’s stunning music and cinematic backdrop hits the spot at Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, December 9th 2014, London UK

With a 26 week run at No.1 in France with second album “Racine Career” (translate.d as Square Root) between August 2013 and 2014 and a clutch of French Music Industry awards, this francophone Belgium had the world  or at least Western Europe at his feet. It’s difficult to define his style as he combines many but if you had to it would be a unique brand of R n B with a liberal dose of Cabernet, a smattering of Calypso, rap lyrics with some social commentary and a heavy dollop of electro. This, of course, with lyrics for the most in French. This may have gone over the head of some English speakers, but the largely French crowd cannot have been but impressed. If you did have some French, you would have been moved by the social indictment of Papaoutai or the theatricality of Formidable with Stromae playing the part of a drunk man rueing the loss of his partner. But then on the dance side, many in the audience clearly loved the house beats of Cesaria or the euphoric techno love letter to the crowd Merci. An absolute revelation were the cinematic effects second only to Gotye’s concert of 2012 (at the same venue) in their dramatic impact on the show. In short, this was an iconic performance.

    1. La Roux. O2 Empire Shepherds Bush, London, November 12th 2014
La Roux's Elly Jackson scintillate at O2 Empire, Shepherd's Bush, Wednesday 12th November, London UK

La Roux’s Elly Jackson scintillate at O2 Empire, Shepherd’s Bush, Wednesday 12th November, London UK

After a 4 year absence in which the landscape architecture of popular music has much changed, La Roux made a mighty comeback on tour to support synth riff laden album Trouble in Paradise. Dressed in an eighties style lounge jacket and trousers she glided and smoched around the stage with minimum with effortless cool to cool new tunes like Tropical Chancer and Uptight Downtown where you could almost imagine yourself in Club Tropicana on a holiday island in the eighties. She did not neglect her older material finishing off with a rousing rendition of Bullet Proof that had the crowd on its feet. In short – cool, cool, cool!

    1. Jeff Lynne’s ELO. Radio 2 Festival in a Day, Hyde Park, September 14th 2014
Jeff Lynne's ELO in the Best Outdood Live Performance of the year, September 14th, 2014, Hyde Park, London UK

Jeff Lynne’s ELO in the Best Outdood Live Performance of the year, September 14th, 2014, Hyde Park, London UK

The 2013 edition of the Radio 2 Festival in a Day proved to be a huge disappointment with bands not appearing at the time they were scheduled, an ultra territorial crowd each jealously guarding their patch of green for their picnic blankets, ridiculously long queues at the beer kiosks and food stalls running out of food long before the end of the day. The only saving grace was Smokey Robinson’s sparkling performance after the champagne and prawn sandwiches set started to disappear early to take their little darlings home to bed.

So fast forward a year and I was expecting more of the same. But what a difference a day makes and the line up. The picnic set were still there but not in such great numbers and it was actually possible to get to the bar.

ELO or rather Jeff Lynne’s version produced an absorbing masterpiece of a show with all the old stunning ELO iconography. Although there have been several version of ELO including the brilliant ELO II with former members, which I saw at Shepherds Bush Empire in 2006, Lynne had not performed in 28 years. And what he produced on that night back in September visually and audibly stunning. Most of the old classics were rolled out with the trademark orchestral symphonic sound. But Lynne’s voice is something other versions of ELO have not been able to replicate. Mr.Blue Sky at the end of the concert just before the encore was perfect concert moment. The whole event was a feel good factor from start to finish.

    1. Lords, O2 Empire, Shepherd’s Bush, London, June 5th 2014
A Star is Born - Lorde at O2 Empire, Shepherd's Bush, London , UK , June 5th 2014

A Star is Born – Lorde at O2 Empire, Shepherd’s Bush, London , UK , June 5th 2014

They say stars are born and not made and looking at Lorde’s stunning one women show you could believe it. It would have so easy to dismiss her as a one trick pony. “Royals”, although a great single has been played to death on the MTV channels in 2013. But having seen her live performance, what was striking was the depth and maturity of the delivery of songs of one so young. At the tender age of 17, she delivered a performance that artists twice her age would have dreamt of. Resembling in many respects a younger Kate Bush, with some wacky and creative dance and body movements, the subtle musical electro beat and riffs of her dreamlike indiepop sound, the hearfelt lyrics from songs on the Pure Heroine Album that succinctly conveyed the state of growing up between teen and adult, with songs like Tennis Court and the dreamlike 400 Lux, she put her body and soul into this concert. The climax of the concert with soaring rendition of A World Alone brought a standing ovation resulting in one of those nights that can only be experienced at such intimate venues.

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Other Top Live Song Performances of 2013

Yolanda Brown’s Bob Marley medley mix
Zaz – “On ira” and “Je veux”
Siouxsie (Sioux) “Dear Prudence”
The Rolling Stones “Paint it Black”
Paramore “The Only Exception”

From amongst the 32 concerts I went to see this there were no shortage of candidates. Kicking off the year February , MOBO award winner Yolanda Brown’s sassy sexy sax medley of Bob Marley Classics –Waiting in Vain / Is this Love etc. got the crowd going in our tiny little local theatre in Barking.

French singer’s Zaz’s deeply humanitarian lyrics for “On ira” and “Je veux” set against a bouncy up-tempo beat provided a moving performance in June at the pocket-sized Scala Theatre in Kings Cross.

Also in June, in what has to be one of the coolest gigs of the gig and only just outside my Top 10 of the year, Siouxsie (Sioux) dressed in a white latex cat suit sang some stonking post punk classics at Yoko Ono’s meltdown festival at London’s Festival Hall, the memorable of which was “Dear Prudence” .

While the open-air concert may have been overpriced and the facilities pretty terrible for concert-goers not paying the premium rates, during the hot summer the Rolling Stones did play a number of classics. A barnstorming rendition of “Paint It Black” compensated a little for a distant view and long waits at the beer and food stalls.

In Autumn, Paramore’s live performance of “The Only Exception” to the sold out crowd of Wembley Arena made my hair stand on end with the 12,000 crowd singing the chorus and waving their lighted mobile phones. Some may mind it a bit cheesy. I found an unforgettable moment.

However, head and shoulder above all those is a man at the age of 63 is a man who moved around the stage like a man 20 years younger full of spirit and verve. This is also a man who quite rightly is about to be inducted into the hall of fame. This is Peter Gabriel, a creative genius who, together with his high calibre band, produced a flawless and entertaining of his massive 1986 hit “Sledeghammer”. The nostalgia buzz was immense for me personally. Check this out.

Whereas the last 3 years have produced many newer bands some bordering on art rock that made the grade into my top gig list – Fever Ray, Metronomy & Gotye to name but a few, the year 2013 was took a very different path. This was essentially a battle between classic golden oldies and well established French artists. It is also a testament to the strength of venue outside of London that 4 out of 5 of the best gigs I saw were outside of the capital and 3 of the top 10 were abroad.

This is the first time this has happened and being so London-centric is highly unusual. My blog name being Londongigger should give something of clue as to my geographical orientation. In the past I have dallied a little outside of London but in 2013, of the 32 gigs I went to, 3 were abroad (2 in Paris, 1 in Brussels) and 3 were in England.; yet all finished up in my Top 10.

Is it because I am tired of London and am enjoying the experience of new venues? Is it because, familiarity breeds contempt; repeatedly going to the same venue becomes boring. Could be but I don’t think so. I rather believe that every artist has upped their game of late and that the quality of performance has risen especially amongst the more established performer.

The competition for your spectator buck has never been fiercer and these would also now seem to apply to area outside of the capital as well. Sell-out shows are now a regular occurrence in Manchester, Bristol and Brighton as much as in London. People, are more mobile and will travel further afield to see gigs – cost permitting. With our ever rising population in the UK, whatever the impact culturally on the country and its infrastructure, I can only see bright things ahead for the future of live music in terms of quality and quantity. Promoters, however, should be carefully not rip people off as happened at The Rolling Stones concert this summer in Hyde Park. This year has proven to me that you don’t need to reside in London to have access to good quality venues and artists. Londongigger – has suitcase , will travel.

So without further ado, here is this year’s list.

1.Zazie – The Forest National Arena, Brussels, Belgium Friday 6th December
2.Mylene Farmer – Bercy Arena, Paris, France, Wednesday 11th September
3.Kate Nash – The Sugarmill, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, UK, Wednesday 24th April
4.Simple Minds – Cliffs’s Pavillion, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK, Wednesday 17th April
5. The B52s – IndigO2, North Greenwich, London, UK, Friday 16th August
6.Fleetwood Mac – O2 Arena, North Greenwich, London, UK, Wednesday 25th September
7.Peter Gabriel – O2 Arena, North Greenwich, London, UK, Tuesday 22nd October
8.T’Pau – Rhodes Theatre, Bishops Stortford, Hertforshire, UK, Friday 31st May,
9.Pascal Obispo – Le Colisée de Roubaix, Roubaix, France, Friday 22nd March
=10.Goldfrapp – Eventim Apollo, Hammermsith (formerly Hammersmith Apollo) , London, UK, Friday 1st November
=10.Bat for Lashes- O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, UK, Tuesday 13th August

In 10 years of gig continuous gig going there has always been one venue that has stood out from the rest in London or anywhere for that matter. Sure, venues like Wembley or the O2 have size and scale on their side and that can lend an impressive atmosphere to the place and there are small boxy venues like the Garage or the Jazz Café that put you close up to the artist. However, for a combination of feeling being at a gig of importance but also with an intimate atmosphere, for me you cannot beat the 2000 seater, Shepherd’s Bush Empire. For these reasons, out of the 350 or so gigs that I’ve lucky enough to attend in the past ten years, 56 have been at this super cool venue. The building itself was built as an Edwardian music hall theatre in 1903 and continued in this form for the next fifty years, even surviving World War II relatively unscathed. From 1953 to 1991 it was owned by the BBC who produced many famous light entertainment shows there, including Hancock’s Half Hour, The Generation Game, This is your life and , of course famous UK chat show of the 1980s Wogan. After 3 years of renovation, the venue saw itself transform into a music venue in 1994 and next will see it celebrate its 20th anniversary as such. I was fortunate to attend during its 10th anniversary series where I saw Mike and the Mechanics and the performance was videoed. This was one among many memorable performances I saw but which made the grade to be worthy of inclusion in my Top 5. It has been very difficult to choose but finally here is my list.


Number 1 – Ray Davies, February 11th 2006

A worthy Londoner for a worthy London gig venue. In 2005, now without The Kinks since 1997, Ray Davies was on the comeback trail, recording his first commercially successful album – “Other People’s Lives – for a number of years. The hit the charts early February 2006 at the time of the gig and a seven song segment from the album was played during the show demonstrating Davies masterful songwriting and observational skills particularly in connection with London and English life. He then finished up the gig with such Kinks classics “All day and All of the Night”, “You Really Got Me”, “Waterloo Sunset” and “Lola”. I cannot describe the atmosphere so highly charged was it; the whole of the Empire audience getting to their feet, singing and dancing. Davies also received standing ovations. Without a doubt this was the greatest gig ever at this venue.

Number 2 – Kaiser Chiefs, March 4th 2007

The Kaiser Chiefs were at the height of their early powers. Ricky Wilson proudly announced at the show that their second album had just gone to No.1 in the UK charts and a week before “Ruby” had been the No.1 single. Though still a great band and one of my personal favourites, The Kaisers have never quite been able to recapture the heady triumph of those days. This gig, though, was an “I was there” moment. At one point, Mr Wilson dived off the stage into the frenetically swaying crowd which buckled under him. Standing on the first balcony was an equally unnerving experience and you could feel it moving underfoot to the vibrations of the beat and the pogoing crowd. ” I predict a riot” almost felt like one. This gig was one of the most high octane events I have ever witnessed. Fantastic energy.

Number 3 – The Human League with John Foxx supporting, December 18th 2003

This one is very special to me on a personal level for several reasons. It is the first gig I ever went to with my wife either at Shepherd’s Bush or anywhere. For all you lovers of Ultravox it also had John Foxx supporting. It was an absolute thrill to hear the glorious soaring synth of “Underpass” booming out filling up the theatre. Curiously, it’s also one of the very few times I’ve seen any trouble break in what is normally a problem free theatre. Some guy got into a row with a couple in the row below and thought it would amusing to throw a drink at her which , of course kicked things and involved the intervention of security. Just goes to prove, situations like this can arise anywhere if you’re unlikely. That said, it did not spoil our enjoyment of the League who played what was, in effect their anthology. It was great to sing along to belting tunes like “Mirror Man”, “Sound of the Crowd” and “Don’t you Want Me”?

Number 4 – The Killers (as a support act), March 5th 2004

I have already written in my previous blog entitled Londongigger’s Top 10 support acts that this was by far the best support gig I ever saw. That has not changed. With only a few hundred people in the audience, the band ran through most of the tracks from “Hot Fuss” thrilling the small crowd. None months later, The Killers were number one in the UK Album charts and the rest as they say, is history.

Number 5 – Juliette Lewis and the New Romantiques, October 23rd 2009

This gig was hard work physically and the last standing gig I did at this venue. Yes, Miss Lewis, renowned Hollywood actress and very credible rock and roll indie artist, made us work hard for a taste of her work. Standing through 4 support acts, 2 of whom were fun, 1 crap and 1 of which was so loud, I thought I’d had a free ear syringe was not the most enjoyable experience in a sardine packed crowd. However, it proved to be worth the wait and the pain on the feet as she absolutely tore the place down. Bedecked in a flamboyant outfit with feathers, and coming out with phrases like “if you’re too shy to shake your hips then shake your tits”, she exuded boundless energy , even coming down of the stage with no fear and singing and dancing with fans. It’s not everyday you see a Hollywood star do that. The gig was 65 minutes of pure mosh pitting bliss climaxing with title track of the album “Terra Incognito”. At £14 a ticket, this was probably also the Best Value for Money gig I’ve seen.

Londongigger’s Live Performance Song of the Year 2012 – Billie Jean (Terra Naomi Acoustic version)

I have been priviledged to see many suberb songs performed live this year. These included Cristina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” followed by straight up “Tragedy” , both of which provoked a heartfelt singalong by the audience at my opening gig of 2012 in January at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. “Band on the Run” and “Hey Jude” had a similar response at Sir Paul McCartney’s Teenage Cancer Research Trust concert at the Royal Albert Hall in March. Sir Elton John’s “Rocket Man” got people out of their seats at Wembley Arena and swaying in the aisles in September and for their closing song at their O2 Arena gig in November, Keane’s new song “Sovereign Light Cafe” was personal and heartfelt.

However, none of these worthy performances could match with the song I have chosen as my personal Live Performance Song of the Year. That accolade goes this year to the lovely Terra Naomi whose dark and solemn acoustic rendition of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean was as beautiful and unexpected as it was subtle. I saw her perform this amazing version at her London gigs in February and October London and was priviledged to meet her after the show. The clip below is taken from the Wolverhampton show but it gives you the idea.

Londongiggers’ Top 5 London Gigs of the Year 2012

The last two years have been pretty much dominated by Art Rock and alternative bands with Fever Ray and Metronomy taking the crown in 2010 and 2011 respectively, so who does this year’s accolade belong to. Well, it’s been an extra-ordinary year, in fact, ranking as one of the best ever and certainly up there with 2005 and 2009 which I count as my two best ever for live music.

To give you some idea of the calibre of those years – top of the tree for 2005 was U2 with a no-holds bar show at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales on their Vertigo tour and for 2009, the Blur reunion at Hyde Park, London.

Now as I have mentioned Cardiff which is clearly not in London at which, as my nom de plume suggests, most of live music experiences take place, I have to explain that when you cannot get tickets to see an artist in your home town because of exceptional demand, you go where you can. Occasionally I do venture to venues outside London and even abroad if required.
Now that I’ve that cleared up, I will digress for a moment into recalling this amazing venue that is the Millenium Stadium. The proud of home of Welsh international rugby matches and former FA cup final venue with its 70000 plus capacity, produced the most excellent crowd singing in response to a powerhouse of a set littered with hit after hit and interspersed with tracks from arguably U2’s greatest album since The Joshua Tree. It was crazy 24 hours as the night before I had just seen Coldplay in at the Crystal Palace National Athletics Stadium – a theme I shall return to when we finally get into the Top 5. It was an unforgettable night ; also with great support acts in the form of The Killers and Starsailor.
I will always regard the year 2005 as my personal gold standard for live music but who measures up this year. Well, I can honestly state this is the first time I cannot split the decision, such is the testament to the quality of music this year. So for the first time and hopefully the last there are 3 acts in the top slot.
Joint Number 1 are :

= No.1 – Coldplay, Paralympics Closing Ceremony, Olympic Stadium, Sunday 10th September

Coldplay (centre-stage) play "Paradise" during the Paralympics Closing Ceremony, September 9th 2012, Olympic Stadium, London

Coldplay (centre-stage) play “Paradise” during the Paralympics Closing Ceremony, September 9th 2012, Olympic Stadium, London

I mentioned just before that I saw Coldplay play an athletics track in 2005. Well, they played another one this – only slightly bigger. Now I will be perfectly honest, Coldplay are not and probably never will be my favourite live band. I quite like some of their music on CD but in a normal year, it would not make me rush out and buy concert tickets. I’m sure that many in the Olympics Stadium that windy slightly chilly evening in September would have agreed. However, this was not a normal year. This was 2012. Moreover, this show came on the back of 7 glorious weeks of Olympics and Paralympics euphoria. Everything was seen in rose coloured spectacles, the only experience to which I could liken it was probably that of the Summer of Love in San Francisco, 1967 – only without the drugs. The combination of this euphoria, the spectacular set, the backdrop, the lighting, the stadium itself , the volunteers or games makers as they became known, the 80,000 spectators, the knowledge of millions watching on TV live around the world made for a powerful combination that conspired to make tracks from Coldplay such as “Yellow”,” Clocks” and “Paradise” sound epic. Rihanna’s grand entry on a pirate ship to the stage and subsequent duet with Chris Martin on “Princess of China” only added to sublimely surreal and grandiose feeling of the occasion. Was this epic £11million extravaganza worth it? You bet it was. Never mind 2012, this will go down in my Top 10 of time concerts.

=No.1 – Elton John, Peace One Day Concert, Wembley Arena, Friday 21st September

Sir Elton John tinkles the ivorie, Wembley Arena, London, September 21st 2012

Sir Elton John tinkles the Ivories, Wembley Arena, London, September 21st 2012

Sir Elton was back at his absolutely peak as he brought his rocking “A” game to this charity gig promoting Peace One Day’s objective to institutionalise Peace Day 21 September and highlight the activities of individual and organisation in bringing about peace and the reduction of violence in conflict areas. As Elton, looking relaxed and very lively, tinkled the rock ‘n’ roll ivories, he went through an anthology of seventies, eighties hits such as “Bennie and the Jets”, “ Philadelphia Freedom” and “I’m Still Standing” as well as more recent numbers like “Hey Ahab”. Yes the Rocket Man was on top form and after toe-tapping, knee-slapping and singing my way through the set, I remember coming out of the former 1948 Olympics venue (Wembley Arena) with a massive smile on my face.

=No.1 – Gotye, Hammersmith Apollo, Monday 12th November

Gotye's Musical and Cinematic Masterpiece, Hammersmith Apollo, London, November 12th 2012

Gotye’s Musical and Cinematic Masterpiece, Hammersmith Apollo, London, November 12th 2012

Had it not been for the aforementioned rocking powers of Sir Elton and the Coldplay/Paralympics Closing Ceremony combination, in another year Gotye would have been my choice pick as sole gig of the year. Most famous for this year’s world wide hit “Someone that I Used to Know”, the combination of the cinematic visual imagery, much of it involving animated characters or elements of pop art was perfectly in synch with the imaginatively crafted – sometimes darkly ethereal electro indie music of this Melbourne based artist and his band. The gig transcended music and became a piece of art. Absolutely masterful.

No.4 – Grace Jones, Lovebox Festival 10 Year Anniversary, Victoria Park, Sunday 18th July

Grace Jones bangs the Drum at the Lovebox Festival 10Year Anniversary, Victoria Park, London, July 18th 2012

Grace Jones bangs the Drum at the Lovebox Festival 10Year Anniversary, Victoria Park, London, July 18th 2012

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Up until the summer, this concert had been the frontrunner to take the top spot in 2012. Having seen Grace Jones twice before and enjoyed her gigs immensely, I didn’t think it could get any better. I was wrong. This set scaled the full gamut of Jones career from “La Vie on Rose” through to the soul-rock fusion of “William’s Blood” and for once, included a track I’d been dying to her sing live, her second UK single from 1980 – the seductively dark “ Private Life”. Jones, with her flamboyant costume and headpiece changes after virtually every song was the perfect Headliner to close the 10 year anniversary of the Lovebox festival on what was a deliciously camp final day line-up with Sam Sparro Nile Rogers and Chic & Lana Del Rey among the supporting line-up. The day felt at times like park life meets Studio 54. The 64 year old Jones demonstrated the energy of someone half her age and finished off in spectacular fashion hula-hooping her way through final song “Slave to the Rhythm”. I did not stop dancing throughout the whole gig.

No.5 Florence and the Machine, Royal Albert Hall, April 3rd

Florence and the Machine at the Royal Albert Hall, London, April 3rd 2012

Florence and the Machine at the Royal Albert Hall, London, April 3rd 2012

What I can say – Florence Welch is the darling at present of the UK art and indie rock scene. I wrote 3 years ago when I saw at the intimate Shepherd’s Bush Empire that while there still some rough edges her performances could only improve. And so it came to pass as this performance at the Royal Albert in spring saw her come of age. Taking many tracks from the aptly named 2nd album “Ceremonials” and a few from first album “Lungs” she bravely gambled on a concert where “the Machine” turned into an Orchestra and the song arrangements became classical and choral in nature. Most in the audience had not been expecting this change of style but in the context of the grandiose venue of the Royal Albert Hall, the gamble payed off and the concert was a triumph. Standing ovations all-round!

Londongigger’s  Top 15 Most Manic concerts ever

This post resulted from my exhaustion from the Bad Manners gig I attended last night. Practically crawling out of this gig, I started to recall other similar ones that had been amazing but physically and mentally intense. To American readers viewing this post, I can only say it’s very British orientated. There may some British bands you have never heard of. I think there’s a natural pent-up rebelliousness and latent aggression in the Brits that finds its expression and outlet in music. I am not saying that American artists and bands don’t have a degree of that as well (Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop are two good examples) but it seems to be more prevalent in the UK. So here are 15 of the most frenetic, energetic or just downright mad concerts I have experienced. 

1. Sex Pistols, Brixton Academy, Monday 12th November 2007

 With Johnny Rotten pacing up and down the stage like a demon king, manically staring down at the audience, at times it was more like Theatrical in the UK. I was standing within 30 feet from the front of the stage at Brixton surrounding by young nouveau punks with their classic spiky hair and old former punks reliving their youth. (Believe it or not there were a few families mixed in there as well). The result was an insane giant mosh and pogo pit where everyone bounced off each other. This 50 year old guy put his arm round my shoulder and we started pogo-ing like mad. “Holidays in the Sun” and “Anarchy in the UK” were especially intense. It’s the only concert I’ve ever come out of black and blue and every muscle in my body aching in spite of the drinks but the post concert high was one of the most amazing feelings ever. I even bought and wore a “Never mind the B**llocks tee-shirt after and wore it  prominently displayed on the tube almost as a badge of honour.

2) Madness, Madstock Event, Finsbury Park, Sunday 9th August 1992 (yes 1992 – you did read right, yes I am that old)

 Madness are institution in the UK and have a permanent place in the hearts of many music lovers. They had around 20 Top 20 hits in the UK but only one – “Our House” in the US  However, they had split up in 1986 and nobody seriously thought they would get back together. Of course, nowadays they perform virtually every year but back in 1992 they had been split up for 6 years. So, to the delight and surprise of their many fans they announced two reunions concert in north London’s Finsbury Park. The tickets proved to be some of the bestselling of that year. On the bill there was also Morrissey (who on the Sunday cancelled) and Ian Drury and the Blockhead amongst others. So, jampacked in with 30,000 others, this was one big bounce-along for 2 hours. There was not much else you could as the crowd was so tightly packed. It’s also to this day the only concert I’ve been to where everyone knew all the words to all the songs and sang their hearts out to all of them. There were some comic and dangerous moments as well. A guy who decided to be clever and climb up a tree to get a better view got pelted with fruit. Trouble was we were near the tree, so at one point we trying to avoid flying oranges, apples and a grapefruit. Have you ever been hit by a hurled orange. Let me tell you it hurts. Some of the people towards the front also experienced near crushing

Nonetheless, the concert was great and in fact, is also in my top five of all-time.

3         Bad Manners, Islington Assembly Room, Saturday 18th February 2012

 What can I say Bad Manners are the reason I’m writing this post. Just saw them yesterday (February 18th 2012). This ska band from north London with their larger than life irreverent frontman Buster Bloodvessel kept up a frenetic pace as did the crowd. Mosh pits,wild dancing from men and women of a certain, beer showers and the pace never let up. The gig finished with a massive knees-up to Bad Manners’ version of the Can Can.  Rarely have I felt so exhausted after a gig. I was on my knees practically going out of the venue but a fantastic gig anyway.

 4         Basement Jaxx, Wireless Festival, Sunday 4th July 2009

Strangely  this is the only Dance Act to make my list, on a nice summer’s evening In Hyde Park, me, my brother-in law, my niece and her boyfriend got our funk for an hour and a half non-stop. We were towards the back of the 30,000  or so crowd but it didn’t matter. We had the space to dance but my-oh-my, how we got down to the non-stop party sound track of this excellent band. We bounced, we hopped, we freaked, we let it all out. Undoubtedly, this was one of my best ever festival gigs.

5         The Specials, Brixton Academy, June 8th 2009

There’s a line in a Peter Gabriel song which goes “If looks could kill they probably will”. Well, being at a Specials gig, is more a case of “If sweat could thrill, it probably will”. To classic social British ska songs like “Too much too young”, “Ghost Town” and “A message to you Rudy”, Brixton was like a seething mass of former British rude boys. The temperature went up, it was like an oven in the auditorium and even though, me and my friend, were out of the main crowd, raised up on the side, there were still people squashed against dancing as were we. Came out of this one, completely dripping in sweat as did everyone we saw going out. Women’s hair-dos had wilted under the heat and sweat and mascara was running. Blokes en masse had sweat stains on the tee-shirts. Still a great gig for the ska nostalgics.

 6         Kaiser Chiefs, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Sunday 3rd March 2007

 With songs titles likes “The Angry Mob” and “I predict a riot”, the Frontman Ricky Wilson almost caused one by leaping off the stage into the crowd but the crowd buckled under the force and he fell. However, he recovered to go on and the band and crowd movement literally shock the foundations of Shepherd’s Bush Empire theatre. I was in the front row on Level 1 with my wife and as we stood we could feel the balcony moving back and forth underneath us. We had never experienced this before and never have since.

 7         The Rakes, Koko, April 29th 2009

This has to be the most frenetic gig I have experienced. These indie heavyweight performed almost 24 songs in just one hour hardly pausing for breath. The mosh pits were violent and full of mad teenagers.

 8         Franz Ferdinand, Brixton Academy, Saturday 24th October 2009

 The excellent music aside, “Take Me Out”, “No You Girls” etc; this was the gig for you if you liked late nights (the gig started at a quarter to midnight), people pushing past you, treading on your feet and beer showers. One beer shower was particularly interesting as it was more like a beer bomb. I was hit full on the back of the head by a virtually full plastic glass of beer, which bounced off me and splattered about 10 people around me. That said, all this was worth it to see Franz Ferdinand sublime techno-end to the concert with the track “Lucid Dreams” , that unexpectedly transformed from an Indie to techno section, the latter of which lasted nearly 10 minutes and completed  bemused all those diehard Franz Ferdinand fans.

 9         Lacuna Coil, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, February 5th 2010

I don’t normally headbang. However, I got a bit carried away that evening and ended up hanging off the Level 1 side balcony pumping my fist, singing the song and headbanging the night away to the gothic metal tunes. Gig full of drama and emotional angst and the mosh pit down below was violent.

10     Juliette Lewis, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Friday 23rd October 2009

This one I’ll never forget, the crowd were already jigging up and down in a frenzy but then Juliet Lewis, a Hollywood star and right-on indie starlet gets off the stage and plunges into the crowd at Shepherd’s Bush and is singing surrounded by people, me being one of them. What a moment and yes, I’m not ashamed to say it, my head was turned a bit.

 11     Micheal Franti and Spearhead, Wireless Festival, Hyde Park, Saturday 2nd July 2011

Thirty minutes of festival mosh pit madness that I experienced at last year’s Wireless festival. I had listened to Michael Franti’s music before on CD and had been expecting some gentle laid back danceable ballads so I put myself at the front but instead it was fast and furious and everyone around turned the show into a frenetic posh pit. Was bump, bruised and battered – not on the scale of the Sex Pistols, of course. And then, of course the crowd was joined by Michael Franti himself with guitar who sang, jumper hopped and skipped his way around the tent whipping the crowd into a frenzy as his went.

12     Super Furry Animals, Wireless Festival, Hyde Park, Sunday 25th June 2006

I did not see the whole of this as I was stuck outside the festival tent waiting to get in but I’ll always remember jumping up and down in a euphoric crowd for about 10 minutes repeatedly singing the chorus of “They don’t give a f**k about anybody else.

13     Primal Scream, Hyde Park Calling Festival, Hyde Park, Thursday 6th July 2006

 What  can I say? Primal Scream were awesome. Once again a euphoric festival crowd were absolutely high on tunes like the stomping “Country Girl”, the mellow “Come Together” and “Loaded “and quite a few were just loaded – period. Yes the weed was flying around big time. The crowd just danced hippy early 90’s style  – many high as a kite.

 14     Fischerspooner, Wireless Festival, Hyde Park, Friday 24th June 2005

 Fischerspooner love performance art and dressing. In the gig this american band was dressed up in old fashioned baseball uniforms made up with black around the eye on one side and white on the other. Later at another gig of theirs, I saw in that same year, the lead singer – Casey Spooner dressed up as a Roman Emperor and had dancers around him dressed as vestal virgins. This gig was held in a small tent and it was bursting at the seams. The people inside completely let loose to the mellow electro-tunes of “Just Let Go” and “A Kick in the Teeth”.

 15     The Whip, Wireless Festival, Hyde Park, Saturday 5th July 2008

 Another festival gig and another in a tent. In fact it was the first of the day at 2:30pm on a hot summer’s afternoon and I did not expect much. I could not have been more surprised and more wrong when this Electro indie-outfit produced one of the gigs of the festival. Fast-paced, frenetic electro with relentless danceable drum beats. The audience, mainly made up of teenagers went crazy for it. Spontaneous mosh pit sprung up all around and then disapated throughout the show. Crowdsurfacing was de-rigueur. It may have only been the first gig of the day but my energy was already spent and I had to spend the next hour chilling out in the grass recovering.