My year of gigs. Being in a sweaty crowd thrashing about without a care in the world is my all time favourite pastime. Whatever your favourite musical moment of 2012, I hope it made you as happy as seeing these made me.
5. Funeral for a Friend – Juneau
“And I’m nothing more than a line in your book.
Yet I’m nothing more than a line in your book”
This was bitter sweet. Playing Juneau as the final track of their set was met by the crowd with a tinge of anger and upset. An excellent band, but a set plagued with technical difficulties that they were asked to bring the evening to an end a lot earlier than they intended. The young crowd loving the sing-along anthems of tracks from Welcome Home Armageddon and Memory and Humanity;the oldies like me holding out for screaming wonders from Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation and Hours. Respecting that it’s the fans that have got them where they are, the band visibly upset that they had to leave their loyal supporters unfulfilled. She Drove me to Daytime TV has been on my list of ‘songs I must see live before I die’ list for years, and it’s still there. Hoping and praying to see them again soon and it seems my cries have been answered. April 2013 at Welly – I’ll be there with knobs on! As if Hull’s getting a decent band for once!
4. Martha and the Vandella’s – Dancing in the Street
“All we need is music, sweet music. There’ll be music everywhere”
Hull was proud host to two fantastic free events this year, and I was mightily impressed with both. In its fourth outing Freedom Festival brought music, comedy, dance and art from local and international performers. As the sun set over the River Hull, the Pier stage, which had just finished playing host to an excellent set from The Milk, eagerly awaited the arrival of Martha. I defy anyone not to know the old-school Motown tracks made famous by herself and the backing group, the Vandella’s. Taking the stage at the ripe age of 71 in the blingest red sequinned dress imaginable – Martha held the crowd all night, and when she wasn’t singing, her witty and interesting stories about her career and life were a joy to listen to. Telling us she made the journey to Hull with three generations of her own family to be there with us, the audience was much the same. Grandparents, mums, dads, and children, were all dancing in the street. Jimmy Mack, Nowhere to Run and Heatwave firm favourites with the audience. I unexpectedly spent the evening in the wonderful company of the lovely Hesp ladies, and front row spaces were negotiated and preserved greatly by Katy. As the set drew to a close I was ready to pounce and try to catch a glimpse Martha post-gig and maybe even say hello. Coming out from the back of the stage security threw a blanket around her shoulders and whisked her off to the ‘artists area’. I took my chance and sneaked in beside her and told her how amazing I thought she was. She touched my hand and thanked me – special moment, however brief, and just captured on camera by Katy before security intervened.
3. M. Ward – I Get Ideas
“When we’re dancing and you’re dangerously close to me, I get ideas. I get ideas”
In London and heading to the Leicester Square Theatre having being unable to get hold of any tickets for this one-off ‘audience with’ new album showcase, it was a long shot that we would be able to get tickets on the day. As I approached the nice lady on the ticket window, I pleaded with her to magic up some spare tickets (as my husband is a massive fan and we’ve travelled a long way…blah blah…) I could hear M. Ward sound checking in the background, and out of thin air a pair of tickets bestowed themselves upon me. If based on musicality alone this was probably the best gig I’ve ever seen. M. Ward was a one man band for an hour and a half. He played acoustically requests bid at him from the small seated audience who hung on his every strum. Tracks from his then yet to be released eighth solo album mixed among favourites from his large body of work. Of the four instruments on stage M. Ward played each of them – recorded and looped the sounds and backing vocals to layer the tracks to create the sound of a full band all on his own. The new album so catchy that on hearing him perform the tracks just the once, I felt like I knew it already. That night we came away singing I Get Ideas – a simple meaning and catchy melody that is utterly infectious. A surprise appearance of his She & Him sidekick would have been the icing on the cake, but you can’t have everything!
2.Brand New – Seventy Times Seven
“Is that what you call a getaway? Tell me what you got away with.
Cos I’ve seen more spine in jellyfish. I’ve seen more guts in eleven-year-old kids”
If I was on a desert island and I could only have one album to listen to for the rest of my life it would be either Deja Entendu or The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me – either way, it would be Brand New. Every word Jesse sings I feel in the pit of my stomach, his lyrics so dark and tortured they can’t fail to make an impact. When the band came on stage to a melancholy intro everyone was bluffed when they broke into Archers Bows Have Broken, but no one more than me – a song that was on my wish list to see, but never dreamt they’d play it that night. Much to the amusement of the boys, I went mental. I learnt something very important at this gig – that I can jump higher than everyone else! Mid way through the set Brand New broke some tunes out of the archive. Once upon a time two best buds gave us the infamous Grease Mega-mix routine, and this song reunited them. Richard Howlett and Steve Leach performed every word of Seventy Times Seven, to each other – a gig within a gig, and Chris and I had a front row seat. This track brought heart, soul and humour in perfect contrast to the mournful emotive tracks like Jesus Christ, Sowing Season and Me V’s Maradonna V’s Elvis. Discerning music fans will spot the cross over lyrics… #teamemo
- Taking Back Sunday – Makesdamnsure
“ You’ve got this new head filled up with smoke, I’ve got my veins all tangled
close to the jukebox bars you frequent. The safest place to hide”
Seeing TBS wasn’t my musical highlight of 2012 – it was my highlight of the year. Period. The first time I saw TBS I was beaten black and blue, and lost a shoe… but found it again and then when they performed ‘You Know How I Do’ I knew I was in it for the long haul . It was epic. This time it was me doing the pushing and shoving with teen-goths powerless before my sharpened elbows as I wanted to be hanging over the railings at touching distance to the stage. Richard screaming after me “careful, you’re gonna hurt someone”. Earlier in the day I was in the right place at the right time when 300+ people were scattered in the courtyard waiting for TBS to come to the signing tent. By pure fluke and bit of shoving – I was 8th in line. Meeting the band was amazing, but hanging around at the end, having my picture taken with Adam and then bumping into him again later in the day whilst he was checking out bands with his bouncer was pretty amazing. The newer more mainstream TBS offerings were put against the old screamo classics and held their own; tracks I didn’t really rate before, now new favourites. Lazzara pouring so much of himself into every track that on Everything Must Go he broke down in tears, and when the adrenaline hit max he threw down his crutches (he had a cast removed from his leg the day before) and climbed the lighting rig without a flinch of pain. Everyone itching to hear Cute Without the E, their biggest hit, but for me the best track of the gig took me by surprise. As the band bid their farewell to the electric crowd, Makedamnsure got started. The venue turned into a massive dance floor and the ground literally moved beneath me. Looking around and everyone was giving it every ounce of what they had left. The last 30 seconds of this track was one of the most powerful moments of my life. I admired a girl nearby, like me screaming every word as loud as she could – then realised I knew her. And not only that we’d been here before; 9 years earlier, same band, same venue. Sal and I finished the evening together. A poetic ending to a perfect day. Went there, did it, got the tattoo. 152.
Honourable mention: The teen metal band I saw at Humber Street Sesh, whose name I cannot recall! Playing You Me at Six and Paramore covers as if their lives depended on it. Passion like that you just can’t bottle.
Still on the wish list: Jamie T, whose talents continually blow my mind. And Foo Fighters, as they are the closest I’m ever going to get to Kurt Cobain.
Special thanks: Mr H, my gig buddy in chief. Thank you for making the music mean more.