A few people have asked me for this list so it got me thinking. I couldn’t keep it to ten so here are my own personal top 12 gigs of the year.
Prince – Malahide Castle, Dublin
From start to finish, Prince’s greatest hits set was one of the most engaging and fun gigs I’ve ever experienced. The little Purple one just didn’t know how not to entertain. I said beforehand at a price of €100 or so a ticket, I would only go see Prince once. He was so good I would go see him again in a heartbeat, high price or not.
Tune-Yards – @ SXSW, Whelan’s, Primavera, Berlin Music Festival
Photo by Killan Broderick.
I saw Merrill Garbus four times this year and each time was as absolutely life-affirming. She has the uncanny ability to send rushes of elation faces to make smiles, pins and needles billowing to your fingertips, waves of emotion crashing to your chest and your to make your eyes well up with delight. Well, mine anyway. Performer of the year. She’s on tour again in February.
I know what you’re thinking and it’s exactly what I was thinking too but there’s a lot to be said for pure aural fun, even if you don’t listen to it at home. I described Skrillex’s gig in a Berlin thusly:
“Skrillex’ Wikipedia page clunkily calls his music “complextro”, I’m calling it dumbstep. There’s no room for nuance in Skrillex’s repertoire, there’s barely any room for sub-bass. What we get is a immediately unimaginative formula of build up of gigantic digitised bass growls. It’s big, dumb and silly but my, is it fun. Abso-bloody-lutely massive fun. We enter the arena taking the piss but are soon taken over by the experience and wholly enjoy it so much I almost feel guilty. “
Bon Iver – Grand Canal Theatre, Dublin
Alan Reilly summed this gig up for me in a review for State. A real painting comes to life kind of gig.
“Vernon wears his company well, stood centre-stage on Dublin’s Grand Canal Theatre, an eight-strong band is marshalled around him armed with guitars, keyboards, violins, chimes, trumpet, clarinet, French horn, trombone, saxophone, bass-saxophone and two sets of drums; Bon Iver is no longer one man. When a wash of sounds deluges the amphitheatre, ‘Perth’ emerges as the flood draws back. Bon Iver the record is a drunk-punch collage of feeling and intricacies – live, it is a pool of swirling senses. Conducted by a floating falsetto, clouds of billowing horns swell, punctuated by crisp, rattling percussion. All played out with striking force; powerful and often times heavy, but never dense – and always on the cusp of overriding emotion.”
“With such a loose and disparate large group of musicians (much like the widely-diversive Honest Jon’s discography which swings from ’70s English folk to the dance rhythms of Actress), large passages of indulgence or noodling were to be expected. Over the course of an hour and 45 minutes even with a rotating on-stage membership, what transpired was an incendiary and uplifting display of musicianship and talent packaged in an old-fashioned knees-up concert-style that only momentarily lost focus.”
“The adolescent fervour around the LA-based rap collective was resounding at the all-ages Thrasher Party out east of Austin city. Kids jumped the fence, the line to get in was bum-rushed and people were ejected. Luckily, even if you didn’t get in you could still get a decent view from outside and it’s from there I witnessed this madness:”