Godspeed You! Black Emperor Minehead All Tomorrows Parties and London Troxy December
In the years between 1998 and 2002 I saw Godspeed five or six times, and at least a couple of these are in my top 10 gigs of all time. Needless to say I was attending ATP for the whole experience, and I was not expecting GYBE to rise to their earlier peaks. I was wrong, they were amazing, at least the equal of those legendary gigs if not better. It was the East Hastings/ Sad Mafioso section on Saturday that floored me, and it was equalled by the back to back coupling of Moya and BBF3 on Sunday. It was excellent that they played different sets throughout the weekend, and the icing on the cake was the epic performance at the Troxy 10 days later when they opened with the Dead Flag Blues and closed with the beautiful little closing piece 09-15-00, some two and a half hours later. Some of the best gigs of this of any other year.
The National Brixton Academy December
I had a new year's resolution not to go to any big gigs, but I made an exception for this as I had wanted to see the National since 2002, when I last saw them in a pub in Belfast. Simply this was just a great show, they didn't make it feel like a big cavernous venue, they chatted to us and played a wide range of material from their last 3 records. Lovely visuals too. And the ending Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks was something to behold.
Boredoms Kentish Town Forum May
Colossal Boadrum show, not quite as spectacular as the 88 drummer event I saw in Brooklyn on 08.08.08, but still amazing. This was DJ Eye and his specially modified 'guitar tree' plus nine drummers, one of whom entered through the crowd on a platform. It was a set which embraced trance, dub and noise, but it was all about those drummers gelling together. This was my gig of the year til December although my mate (who has even more extreme tastes than me!) hated it. I felt euphoric until I got outside and was told we had a new government, and everything changed.
Swans Camden KOKO October
Ok so this video is from Dublin, but it is pretty much exactly how they performed this song in Koko.
I had never seen Swans before and this was a big deal for me. I love both the Soundtracks for the Blind album and the early 90s White Light/ Love of Life material, and this newer material and this show seemed to blend both of these together. An epic show - quality noise abuse and some amazing songs too.
No Age 'secret' show at Stockwell Grosvenors Arms August
A 'secret' gig on the back of their Field Day performance, this took place in the back room of a pub in Stockwell and the intimate atmosphere made it something very special. The set was largely drawn from 'Nouns',the 'Losing feeling' Ep and the (then) forthcoming 'Everything in between' album, and this was the first time I had seen them as a three piece with some extra electronics in the mix. I'll never see them anywhere this small again, amazing.
Japandroids London ICA February
I was cautious about this lot as I had heard they were ropey live. Nothing could be further from the truth, this was an exceptionally tight set, and surprisingly they played for nearly 90 minutes. Bags of energy and great songs from this duo, anda couple of crowd pleasing covers too (McLusky and Big Black). A great review and photos can be found at The Line of Best Fit
Hallogallo 2010 Barbican October
Krautrock gig of the season for sure, in case you don't know, Hallogallo 2010 is the formal title for Michael Rother and friends playing the music of Neu! This is bascially a Neu! gig and the friends are Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth as steady as a rock on drums, and Aaron Mullan of Tall Firs on bass. As close to Neu! as we are ever likely to get these days.
Low Cambridge Junction 2 November
Part of a curious 6 date European tour, this was an inbetween albums set from Low, though there were some impressive new tunes given a first airing. and lots and lots of great back catalogue material.
The Wilderness of Manitoba Cambridge Wish You Were Here festival September
It's always a pleasure to wander into a gig and be completely blown away by someone you have never previously heard of. This was what happened at the Wilderness of Manitoba's early evening set in the Portland Arms. Part of a varied and interesting bill at this one day multi venue festival (Sad Day for Puppets, Pulled Apart By Horses, Alessi's Ark) they were the undoubted highlight.
Oneida present the Ocropolis at All Tomorrows Parties
A ten hour collaboration between Oneida and a lot of other musicians also playing at Godspeed's All Tomorrows Parties, this was one of the undoubted highlights. An extended jam with people like Mike Watt, Greg Saunier of Deerhoof, Chris Corsano, White Hills and many many more. More of this sort of thing please, ATP!
Honourable mentions for Allo Darlin (Cambridge Portland Arms), Dinosaur Jr (Cambridge Junction), Liars/ Factory Floor (shepherds bush empire), Serena Maneesh (ICA), School of Seven Bells (heaven) Not Squares (Kings Cross water rats)