Last night I attended my final gig of 2018 and as such it’s time for me to look back at the gigs I have been to this year and come up with a top 10. The quantity and quality of gigs I have attended this year has made it possibly the toughest year to date to select a top 10 but after much thought this is what I have come up with…
10) Boss Caine – York, The Crescent
When I first moved to York I quickly became aware of Boss Caine who often appeared as the local support the touring acts that passed through the city. I quickly became a fan of his work but for a long time only ever managed to see him performing as a solo artist. This gig however was a launch party for his album “Loved By Trouble, Troubled By Love” finally allowed me to see him perform with a full band and it was an absolute revelation.
9) Hollywood Vampires – London, Wembley Arena
A gig I had no plans to attend until a few hours beforehand. I was initially sceptical about the whole premise of Hollywood Vampires as, in my experience, supergroups rarely live up to their billing and this supergroup on the surface seemed incredibly gimmicky. Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp playing cover versions of songs by deceased musicians. My main reasoning behind purchasing this ticket was for the support bands of The Damned and The Darkness and I genuinely feared that the Hollywood Vampires set would feel like a cringey cash-in and I am happy to admit I was very wrong. I did actually write a full review of this gig in an earlier post on this blog so please refer to that for full details but needless to say I had a fantastic time at this gig.
8) Volbeat – Manchester, The Ritz
One of my absolute favourite bands of the last decade. Last year I had the fortune to get to see them playing in mainland Europe where they have a far bigger following and perform with a huge stage production in massive arenas. In the UK they have not quite hit that same level but what their shows here lack in spectacle they make up for by allowing you to get up close and personal with a band which has really found its stride as a live act. Couple that with the super bouncy dancefloor or the Manchester Ritz and you have one of the most fun experiences you can have at a metal show.
7) Machine Head – Manchester, Academy 1
Probably the most important metal band of my teenage years and the band that really triggered my love of live music. Ove the years I drifted away from the band having seeing a few of their shows that didn’t really grab me the way they used to until eventually I started skipping their tours altogether. I wasn’t expecting much more than a nostalgia trip from this gig, seeing them at the same venue I did all those years ago with the same friend looking to re-live our youth. What I got was an absolute masterpiece of a metal show featuring the biggest mosh pits I had seen in years. It was announced not long after this gig that the band would be going their separate ways and if that was to be the last time I see Machine Head it was one hell of a way to bow out.
6) Manic Street Preachers – London, Royal Festival Hall
A gig I had not originally planned to attend as it clashed with the second of Pearl Jam’s two London gigs. However, the postponement of that show along with the incredible good fortune of getting the final three tickets for the Manics performing as part of Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival series of gigs at the Southbank Centre. The band were on fantastic form with newer tracks sitting in the setlist feeling like they were old classics.
5) Eureka Machines – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
This was a tough one to pick. This was the third night of a three show mini-tour of which I attended all three nights. The first two nights had stronger support bands but the third and final night was a the Brudenell Social Club which, as any Eureka’s fan will tell you, holds a symbolic place for us and seeing them perform there is always a special experience.
4) Pearl Jam – London, O2 Arena
I am specifically referring to the first of PJs two summer gigs in London. Whilst Eddie was struggling with a throat infection it allowed the band to do what they do best, taking a 20,000 strong crowd and making it feel as intimate as any small club gig. PJ crowds are usually good value for a sing-along but Eddies vocal struggles really allowed that to shine through on this night.
3) Ginger Wildheart’s Birthday Bash – London, Highbury Garage
An annual tradition that has held a permanent place in my annual top 10 gigs list for the past 8 years and has taken the top spot on all but two of those years. This year had probably the strongest set list of any year with several of my favourite lesser played tracks getting an outing and of course the now semi-customary appearance of one Mr Frank Turner. Any other year this gig would have taken the top spot and it is only down the immense strength of this years line-up of gigs that it has slipped down the rankings
2) Reel Big Fish/Less Than Jake – Manchester, The Ritz
A twin headline tour featuring two bands who I would happily go and see in their own individual tours (and have done many times) along with two great support bands in Suburban Legends and Zebrahead. Pure Ska-punk fun on that bouncy Ritz dancefloor again.
1) The Idol Dead – Leeds
Sadly due to a clash of gigs I was only able to attend the second night of the Idol Dead’s weekend long “Idol Decade” 10th anniversary celebrations. The first night being an intimate acoustic gig and the second the full-blown electric Idol Dead experience. Santiago’s in Leeds was probably the smallest venue I found myself in all year and it made for the perfect setting for the glorious chaos that ensued. A gig in which the audience and the band blended perfectly. It was at this gig I was celebrating passing my dissertation which focused on the communities that are born from live music and this gig encapsulated everything that my dissertation had been inspired by. On the off chance anybody involved in booking live music ever reads this list, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD BOOK THE IDOL DEAD. They are one of the finest live acts around at the moment and deserve to be seen by as many people as possible.