Best (and worst) Gigs of 2008

Some of my highlights (and low points) of the 30+ live gigs I attended this year.

Most hard-rocking gig by a newish band
The Reasoning, when they blew the roof off Crewe Limelight. I’ve seen this band six times this year, and they’ve never disappointed. This one was the best of the six.

Most hard-rocking gig by a bunch of grizzled veterans
The mighty Uriah Heep at Manchester Academy 2. They were good the last couple of times I’ve seen them playing greatest hits sets. This time they took the gamble of playing their new album “Wake the Sleeper” in it’s entirety, which might have flopped if the album hadn’t been up to scratch. But with an excellent album, it turned into a triumph.

Most emotionally moving gig
This has to be Breathing Space at Mansfield. This was about two weeks after the death of lead singer Olivia Sparnenn’s father Howard from a brain tumour. The whole show was intensely moving, especially the final encore of the Mostly Autumn song “The Gap is Too Wide”. Not long after this I lost my temper with a Guardian Journalist who insisted that “Amy Winehouse is an icon because she can articulate pain and heartbreak in her songs”. He just doesn’t get it.

Most totally bonkers gig
Has to be The Mars Volta at Manchester Apollo. A three hour set, no support, no interval, and they played right up to the curfew without going off and coming back for an encore. And the whole thing was one continuous jam. Despite owning all four of their studio albums, I recognised very little of what they actually played. It was intense, complex and very, very loud. Even after nine months I’m still not quite sure what to make of it.

Worst performance by a so-called classic artist.
Andy Fairweather-Low at the Cambridge Rock Festival. “I’m a great sixties icon – you have to bow down and worship me”. Reminded me of The Kinks at the 1981 Reading Festival in 1981, and not in a good way. Tedious set of 50s and 60s covers, made no attempt to connect with the audience, and gave me the impression he was was playing for the benefit of Radio Caroline rather than the people in the hall.

The gig that didn’t actually happen
Panic Room at the Peel where the power failed, and we didn’t get any music apart from 20 minutes of the support band. Fortunately I did get to see the excellent Panic Room a further three times, and there’s a rematch of the cancelled gig on January 31st next year – see you there!

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8 Responses to Best (and worst) Gigs of 2008

  1. Best gig?
    Pff that’s a hard one. Saw the Reasoning 7 times this year and i was really flabbergasteed by their latest show in London, Borderline. But the venue was… nothing. My German friends called RPWL were so nice and perfromed 3 times in my nabourhood, including in de New Jail, so that was fun.
    But… my best feeling (it’s emotional, it’s funny, it’s hilarish and it’s touchy) i had with;

    1. Mostly Autumn @ de Boerderij 19 December. Absolute in Saint.

    2. The Reasoning in de Nieuwe Nor Heerlen and RPWL in De Pul Uden ( one in May the other in November)

    3. Pendragon @ the famous Spirit of 66, October.

    4. Roger Waters at Landgraaf… amazing, sublime and impressive.

    5. Porcupine Tree in Tilburg.
    Blind Ego in the Spirit of 66 and Magic Pie at Symforce 2008 were highly enjoyabale too.
    Others; Mangrove as support act for the Reasoning (May), S.C.A.R. (May), Kayak (september), Room Eleven (April), Milow (September).

    Have a great 2009!
    Nick from the lovely South of…

  2. Chuk says:

    The 1981 Reading Festival was in 1981? Who knew?

  3. Leviathan says:

    Worst performance by a so-called classic artist.
    Andy Fairweather-Low at the Cambridge Rock Festival. “I’m a great sixties icon – you have to bow down and worship me”. Reminded me of The Kinks at the 1981 Reading Festival in 1981, and not in a good way. Tedious set of 50s and 60s covers, made no attempt to connect with the audience, and gave me the impression he was was playing for the benefit of Radio Caroline rather than the people in the hall.

    Clearly you don’t understand sarcacsm.. was there at the gig , got the joke and the smile he gave the audience…
    seems you were looking back in anger, rather than accepting the gig for what it was,, and the comment for what it was… a joke…

  4. Tim Hall says:

    I don’t even remember the comment – I just remember his show being crap, and that seemed to be his attitude. He’s probably a competent artist, but he was completely out of place on Sunday’s bill.

  5. Ian says:

    What about Mostly Autum Christmas show at the Limelight ? This to me is what live music should be all about. It was fun! fun! fun! (and my wife enjoyed it so that made the journey home easier). Great atmosphere, great sound (once it settled down), great music and great venue, but as already mentioned, it was fun and was a great way to start christmas.

  6. Tim Hall says:

    Yes, that was a good one. Much better than they were in June, and a lot, lot better than last December when the whole of the first half was all but unlistenable because of problems with the mixing desk.

    Pity I didn’t get to speak to you afterwards – you disappeared very quickly after the band finished.

  7. Ian says:

    Unfortunately I had to get back to derby after dropping Maria and my dad home. Work just did not let up at all those last few days before Christmas.
    So whats your next gigs now that we are in 2009 ?

  8. Tim Hall says:

    Next one should be Panic Room down in London at the end of the month. Next one up this end of the country will be Mostly Autumn again, at Manchester Academy at the end of February, Friday 27th to be precise.