So as the year closed up, and the final strums of 2012 rang out, I asked the team to suggest their gigs of the year for 2012. Some picked events they attended outside of reviewing for GP, such is their year of musical adventures. We got back sixteen unique picks (some picked the same gigs and it seemed pointless to give the gig multiple mentions), so here are Team Goldenplecs gigs of the year, in no particular order.
Let us know in the comments what your gig of the year was!
Primal Scream at The Grand Social
Say what you like about Arthur’s Day, gigs like this are one in a million. A clearly intoxicated Bobby Gillespie stumbles through an outrageously raucous, punked-up six track set, featuring ‘Loaded’, ‘Rocks’, ‘Moving On Up‘ and ‘Country Girl‘ whilst melting the ears off an audience who couldn’t believe their luck. Primal Scream have rarely been this abrasive; sets in festival tents will never be the same again.
Watch the Throne (Kanye West & Jay-Z) at The O2
So utterly bombastically over the top, these two titans made the cavernous O2 seem as small as The Academy 2. A 46 song lesson in theatrics delivered by two men at the top of their game. The best of Kanye’s tunes, the best of Jay-Zs held together by songs from their Watch The Throne collaborative album. Leaving the O2 we were certain of one thing; that we would never see a show as good as that again as long as we live.
First Aid Kit in Vicar Street
The afterglow of this one is hard to shake off. First Aid Kit – Klara and Johanna Söderberg – returned to Dublin for a second time this year and delivered a masterclass in winning a crowd. The songs – a selection from ‘The Big Black & The Blue’ and ‘The Lion’s Roar’, as well as a few surprises – sparkled, distracting everyone from the damp night they waded through to make it to Vicar Street. They had the crowd in the palm of their hands, the flawless harmonies and interactions between band and audience bringing a smile to every face. Switching between mass singalongs and reverential silence, this was a joy to be a part of and one of those rare, shared experiences.
Muse at the O2
It was never going to be a bad gig, given I got 2 free tickets about 30 minutes before ‘doors open’. Talk about a great start to the evening! Little did I know just how amazing a night it was going to be. The sound was incredible; the energy was electric; the crowd were sufficiently wired and the music was as amazing as one would expect from Muse… but the star of the show, especially for us small ones down the back, was the monstrous, ever-moving lighting rig with LED screens and the epic visual experience it brought to The O2. I couldn’t but spend half of the gig cursing the fact that I was watching this visual extravaganza camera-less but that’s as close to a criticism of the night I can offer. Definitely my gig of the year!
The Black Keys at The O2
The Black Keys may be the flavour of the month right now, but with material on offer dating back as far as 2003, it’s clear that they have been one of the best bands in the world for some time. They are a walking “up yours” to the “if they don’t have a hit drop’em quick” record industry that stifles the development of talent by throwing it on the scrap-heap at the first hurdle. The Black Keys embody the old way of doing things; when talent, not fame was the necessity. The best gig of the year by some distance.
Bruce Springsteen at The RDS
It almost feels a cop out to name Bruce Springsteen as my gig of the year, but as a man running a music website ten years, and to have only caught Bruce for the first time this year, I was blown to smithereens, at the only gig in my mind that could possibly rival Watch The Throne. Pantomime in parts as he mocked the power being turned off at a previous show, but never dipping below pure heaven. A perfect setlist to a rock n roll masterclass.
Lisa Hannigan at The Iveagh Gardens
This was one of the most laid back gigs I have ever been too and there was something magical about it. It was a long but lazy day with people flaked out on the ground eating food, drinking and chatting, scattered about the place from about 3 in the day. Everyone was drawn together for Hannigan’s quaint and soothing set, even the showers of rain didn’t stop the audience from singing along. It was a true feast of Irish talent with Cathy Davey Supporting and James Vincent McMorrow Making an appearance. The perfect summer gig on a balmy day.
Tieranniesaur at the Salty Dog Stage, Electric Picnic
In the very, very early hours of Saturday morning at Electric Picnic, Tieranniesaur took the hundreds in attendance from Stradbally straight to FunkyTown.
From start to finish this was a gig that you couldn’t help moving to. The dozens of genuinely famous people in attendance swayed with the hipsters, the drunks and space cadets in perfect, groovy harmony. The set was cut dramatically short by the men in yellow vests. They said the band had gone over the allowed time, but we all know they feared a mass funk overdose.
Snow Patrol at Phoenix Park
The Northern Irish/Scottish six piece played their biggest ever headline show in Ireland in July. Many arrived at the Phoenix Park as fans of support act Florence & The Machine and were heard to be baffled by the fact Snow Patrol were considered the bigger act. However, a whirlwind set which included all the classics like Run, Chocolate and Chasing Cars and some newer tracks with a light show that Muse would be impressed by, showed exactly why Snow Patrol are still top dogs after 18 years on the road. Long may it continue.
Lianne La Havas at the Electric Arena, Electric Picnic
Let’s face it. Sunday morning at festivals are never pretty but on this particular day, Lianne arrived on stage, as fresh as a daisy to ease everyone’s mid morning slump. It was clear that many in the crowd, including this writer, had heard the buzz about her and had arrived to see what the fuss was. Playing all the best from ‘Is Your Love Big Enough’, solo or with the backing of her band, numbers such as Au Cinema, Gone and Tease me went down a storm. Ms La Havas was simply mesmerising. Her incredible range and ability to master climactic crescendos were of particular note. The on stage banter was a pleasant surprise, making the gig a stand-out one, even for someone who was not previously familiar with the album. Count her as a must see in 2013.
Jack White at The O2
Jack White on Halloween night instantly shouted perfect fit when it was announced, and when it finally came along it certainly didn’t disappoint. ‘Blunderbuss’ has been one of the albums of the year and was the main focus of a set that spanned all Jack’s musical projects to date. A simple lighting display and a stripped back performance allowed all to see why Jack White is truly one of the greatest rock stars on offer at the moment. Great music, fancy dress, The O2, what’s not to like really.
Scissor Sisters at The Olympia
Jake shears knows how to put on a show and no better venue then the beautiful intimate setting of The Olympia Theatre. An electric performance from start to finish. I’ve never been at a gig that’s had such a varied crowd. Kids to grown men to grannies, and everyone was having a ball! The wonderful gay anthem “Lets have a kiki” was certainly the highlight of the night. A few weeks later it was announced that the band would be on hiatus for the foreseeable future, which makes the gig extra special!
Franz Ferdinand – Roisin Dubh
Over two years since indie pop merchants Franz Ferdinand visited Irish shores, they made a triumphant return to arguably the best venue in the country, Galway’s Rosin Dubh. Playing a series of warm up gigs in small venues across the country in preparation for their South American festival tour, fans from all over Europe and the rest of the world jumped at the chance to see their heroes in such intimate surroundings. Having witnessed them perform to a sold out Point Theatre in 2005, this was an “I can’t believe I’m here” moment. With fans dancing from start to finish and showcasing some fantastic never before played material, Kapranos and company let the audience know they have a lot more to offer.
Jeff Mangum at Vicar Street
It may have been a surprise when Jeff Mangum went touring material from Neutral Milk Hotel – a band we haven’t heard from in 14 years – but a welcome one. From the moment he took to the bare Vicar Street stage though, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. His voice sounded as pure and unique as it did on ‘Aeroplane Over the Sea’ and the low sound production let it really shine through. Enrapturing and magnificent.
Ash at the garage London
Ash celebrated their 20th anniversary in this small venue in north London. The atmosphere was fantastic as the crowd waited in anticipation for their heroes to arrive. Naturally, the band stuck to the hits, and they have never sounded better. The sheer volume of top-quality tunes spanning their whole career leads to a wonderful set. There were also several special guests, Charlotte Hatherley made an appearance for a few tracks, and made A Life Less Ordinary sound extra special. On Angel Interceptor, Rick picked up a guitar, and the band were joined by Russel Lissack and Matt Tong from Bloc Party. Grant Nicholas(Feeder) played guitar and sang on a cover of the Nirvana classic Breed. The band were on top form and the venue was fantastic, which contributed to the overall celebratory atmosphere.
The Foo Fighters at Tenant’s Vital, Belfast, w/ The Black Keys, The Cribs & The Minutes
The loudest gig of the year (there were several noise complaints made) was also the best for me. Great line up of hard rocking bands, all of whom made a big impact on the stage, but it was The Foos that really tore shit up on their first visit to Belfast. Touring new album ‘Wasting Ligh’t that features some of their best material to date, Grohl and co. held nothing back with a sizzling and exhilarating set (perhaps in anticipation of the hiatus the band is now on). So glad I got to see them.