36 gigs at 17 different venues, in 5 different towns and cities from the old gospel of Mavis Staples to the cutting edge of Grizzly Bear, 2010 has been a great year for live music and here is some of my highlights.
Midlake brought their medieval sound The Cluny and managed to get 6 musicians on the stage which is to be commended. A great way to start the New Year.
Band Of Skulls where brilliant and I expect great things from them in 2011, and Tom McRae brought his wit wisdom and beautiful songs to Newcastle. (But more of Tom later)
Grizzly Bear challenged me musically something Yeasayer would do later in the year, making music that pushed the boundaries but sounded amazing. My love affair with the Dave Matthews Band saw me visiting Manchester Apollo for an amazing gig, supported by Alberta Cross, DMB were brilliant again, one of the most exciting live bands and although unfashionable on these shores I love them! I also saw the Stereophonics at Newcastle Arena and although the band were good I swore never to go to another gig at The Arena, a soulless, huge metal box of a venue, that leaves me cold every time I go to see a gig there.
Laura Marling, Tyne Theatre, engaging, old beyond her years, and a mega star in waiting. The Duke And The King at The Cluny turned out to be one of my gigs of the year, truly amazing and I would recommend anybody to see them. I smiled for hours after the gig. Look them up on YouTube playing outside The Cluny just brilliant.
Saw me attend 5 gigs and a festival, all bar 1 of the gigs were really not worth mentioning, but I again enjoyed the even expanding Evolution Festival on Newcastle Quayside, Ellie Goulding surprised me (very good) Paulo Nutini was everything I expected him to be (a shining star) and Lissie and Ben Howard were brilliant even though there was only a handful of people there to see them. 2011 will see Iggy Pop and Plan B headline so another exciting weekend beckons.
Of the gigs Natalie Merchant at The Sage Gateshead was simply mesmerising, promoting her Leave Your Sleep CD we were treated to 2 hours of stories and music than was enthralling.
The World Cup made sure that there was very few gigs booked in June so my diary was blank, however looking back I could have done with a distraction!
I was back with a bang, 5 gigs, David Ford at The Cluny was stunning on a very hot night, playing with an intensity that had the crowd braying for more. Newton Faulkner at Middlesbrough Empire was again cool, funny and entertaining, his one man Bohemian Rhapsody was a think to behold!
Again no gigs, so on to September.....
Wilco were everything I wanted them to be vibrant, intense, a little bit grumpy, but truly exciting!
Joanna Newsom and Fyfe Dangerfield were both excellent showing why their crowds are growing with each tour.
I Am Kloot played a great gig at The Cluny spoilt by a few drunken Geordies intent on getting drunk and talking loudly!
Tom McRae played the North East for the second time in October and The Sgae Gateshead was the best of the two, cardboard cut outs of Johnny Depp covers of Rihanna and members of the audience singing on stage, what's not to like!
Saw me take off to Seattle, 5 nights 4 gigs, the best of which, was Mavis Staples, gospel soul at it's best.
The Tallest Man On Earth (He's Not) was special, the venue was a church in Salford and his music suited the venue perfectly, beautifully crafted songs sung with a reverence that matched the surroundings.
I also saw the Goo Goo Dolls who brought their slick Amercian rock to Newcastle although good, I felt it was just one of many gigs they do and it could have been anywhere in the world. I know this is the case for most touring bands but it felt like it with the GGDs.
David McAlmont cancelled his December gig and that is where my year ended.
My Top 5 gigs of the Year were;
1. Dave Matthews Band
2. David Ford
3. The Duke and The King
4. Tom McRae
5. Natalie Merchant
I 2011 I have taken a vow of only seeing artists I haven't seen before and I already have 8 gigs lined up. Band of Horses, The Hold Steady, Mogwai, Rumor, David McAlmont, Iron & Wine, and John Grant and Teddy Thompson so it's already looking like a great year. I'm cheating a bit with Teddy Thompson as I'm really going to see the support ( David Ford) but hey I have never seen Teddy Thompson.
I'll keep you informed as the year unfolds but in the meantime keep it live and support live music!