Well 2018 was an epic year for gigs for me. Sixty shows, all of which I enjoyed to some degree or another but I have to say the standard of live music is certainly the best it has ever been no matter what genre or style of music.
This year I should break the 800 mark in my 38 years of gig going. Thanks should go to all of my various gig going pals from Graham, who has been with me from the start at Whitesnake in 1981 at the Hammersmith Odeon ( and it will always be known as that no matter how many name changes it has endured over the years), John, Antony, ‘the Twin Towers’ Gavin and Martin, Birds Eye Andy, big Al, the other Andy, Rog, Christine, the kids and of course my long suffering wife Anne, who has been dragged along to more than her fair share of concerts too. Thanks to all the venues, sound men, lighting guys, promoters and artists who have entertained me over the years.
So after a couple of weeks of reflection below is my list of the top ten gigs I went to last year. That said I am cheating because I am naming eleven.
David Byrne, Hammersmith Odeon. This was not a gig in any usual context or meaning of the word. It was quite simply the most stunning musical experience I have ever witnessed. Two hours of non-stop Talking Head/Byrne solo materials choreographed with military precision with about twenty musicians constantly moving and playing contained within a beaded prison. Mesmerising.
Full review https://garyw66.weebly.com/blog/it-may-not-be-utopia-but-its-audio-visual-heaven
The next ten are in no particular order but all scored a five star review from me at the time.
Pearl Jam, the O2 Arena. I was lucky to be at both O2 shows and there was nothing to choose between them both. Different sets but with the same energy. Arguably still the finest rock band on the planet at the moment.
Full review https://garyw66.weebly.com/blog/rockin-in-the-free-world-with-pearl-jam
The Sheepdogs, the Lexington. New band for me and although hailing from Canada delivered perfect Southern Rock masterclass in probably the best small venue in London.
Full review https://garyw66.weebly.com/blog/rocking-wolves-in-sheeps-clothing
Striking Matches, Bush Hall. Stunning demonstration of country blues rock from this couple. Greta songs backed by two phenomenal guitarists.
Full review https://garyw66.weebly.com/blog/taking-some-good-medicine-with-striking-matches
Courtney Marie Andrews (full band), Islington Assembly Hall. The voice, the band, the sound, the show. Absolute perfection.
Full review https://garyw66.weebly.com/blog/no-rough-edges-to-this-performance
Larkin Poe, Islington Assembly Hall. The future of the blues is safe with these two sisters who rock like the proverbial ba$tard.
Full review https://garyw66.weebly.com/blog/have-faith-with-a-peach-of-a-show
Lera Lynn, Omeara. First of two entries for this new venue to me this year. The intimate setting showcased Lynn’s haunting vocals that you cannot help but be moved.
Full review https://garyw66.weebly.com/blog/you-must-meet-lera-lynn-she-plays-well-with-others
Midland, Omeara. Back to basics show for these guys. A proper old fashioned country rock show without the polish and great to see them in a small setting which you probably won’t be able to do now.
Full review https://garyw66.weebly.com/blog/gettin-our-rocks-off-with-midland
The Wandering Hearts, Islington Assembly Hall. New kids on the UK country scene. Not heard harmonies and tunes like this since Fleetwood Mac in their heyday.
Full review https://garyw66.weebly.com/blog/calls-for-silence-but-going-wild-for-these-wandering-hearts
Nada Surf, the Dome. Power pop heaven for one of my favourite bands playing one of my favourite albums.
Full review https://garyw66.weebly.com/blog/letting-go-with-nada-surf
John Hiatt, Under the Bridge. Another one album show, this time with the master and the original band dusting off ‘Slow Turning’. One of the great living songwriters still delivering.
Full review https://garyw66.weebly.com/blog/riding-along-with-john-hiatt
This has been tricky to whittle down but special mentions to Whitney Rose, Kelly Willis, Shelby Lynne and Alison Moorer, Eli Paperboy Reed, Matthew Sweet and Jaime Wyatt.