1) Foo Fighters
Wednesday 23 February
The annual NME awards culminate each year with the God Like Genius award. Previous winners include Paul Weller, The Cure and Primal Scream. This year it went to Mr. David Grohl, celebrating all his achievements through Nirvana, Foo Fighters and too numerous to mention side projects. The winning artist is also asked if they’d like to close the show with a short set, on previous experience this was usually about 4-5 songs. Dave and the rest of the Foo Fighters bound onto stage and before even a note is struck, Dave questions – “Did we travel all the way from the US of A, just to play four songs? Hell no, I wanna play all night!” A small crowd of fans, right at the front in the pit, go crazy. The Foos rip through their, not even released yet, seventh album – Wasting Light. Playing each track in order, no stopping with a ferocious intensity. Before we even had chance to catch our breath, Dave plays with the crowd – “You want more?” – So we get treated to another hour of greatest hits. Did I mention that the awards cost just £10 to get into? Juliette Lewis came and moshed with us and Roger Daltry came onstage for a jam. It was like icing on top of cherry, on top of sparkler, on top of sprinkles. It just kept getting better. The rest passed by in a blur, but I know that never will I be so close to a Godlike genius again.
2) The Horrors
The Shacklewell Arms
Monday 11 July
A common theme of all my top 5 gigs is that it proves you don’t have to spend a lot of money or go to an enormo-venue in order to have a good time. This gig was announced on the day via Twitter and cost precisely nothing to get in. All you had to do was get yourself in the queue, for a first-come first-served wristband. It meant a five hour wait from arriving at the venue to the Southend five-piece making it onstage but it was certainly worth it. Celebrating the release of their third album, Skying, they played six tracks from the album that is making everyone’s end of year lists. Playing in the backroom of a Dalston pub, the band was very much on home territory, next door to their self built studio. I also witnessed the biggest pedal board I’d ever seen in front of guitarist, Joshua Hayward and he made some seriously freaky riffs out of it. Outstanding.
Efes Pool Hall
Thursday 2 June
I often feel like I am the last one to join the party, so it was a rare treat to be a part of an evening where you felt like you were getting in from the start. The “Dalston Kaiser Chiefs”, Spector, were playing one of their local hangouts, Efes, in the build up to the release of their debut single, “Never Fade Away”. The audience was a who’s who of indie – The xx, Florence, Tom Vek, Dev Hynes (adding to the night with a showcase of Blood Orange in support). Spector only played for 25 minutes, but every single song sounded like a hit single. I could imagine it being played on Radio 1 and the hooks could bury themselves in your brain in just three minutes. Finishing the year with a BBC Sound of 2012 nomination, the next 12 months could be very successful indeed.
Saturday 2 July
I had managed to miss the Oxford math-rock quintet for almost the entirety of their global touring of second album, Total Life Forever, so I was delighted to pick up a couple of last minute, cheap tickets to the second of the three day Wireless festival in Hyde Park. Pulp were the headliners that day but Foals, playing in the second stage tent, blew them away. It was one of those gigs where you just have to totally readjust your expectations after the first few minutes. Opening with “Blue Blood” and “Total Life Forever”, the songs had taken on a life for themselves, filling out every single inch of that tent. Last time I saw them in a tiny pub in Kings Cross, tonight they were making that same huge wall of noise but to 10,000 people. They have perfected the slow build into all out guitar frenzy as demonstrated on “Spanish Sahara”. The band have spent much of the year writing and recording for album number 3, but I enjoyed this one so much I’ll be travelling all the way to Manchester later this month for one last gig of the year. Can’t wait.
Thursday 23 June
A definite case of where have I been for the last few years. It was simply embarrassing that I’d not given Metronomy a try before now. 2011 saw the electro-indie outfit release the Mercury nominated, The English Riviera. It is an album that made the English coast seem something akin to Cannes or Havana and a bit less like… er.. Bognor Regis. The feel-good vibe translated to this warm up club show ahead of a monster festival circuit for the band. Metronomy are one of the few bands where every member is an integral component. Where would we be without Gbenga Adelekan’s hip shaking bass lines, Anna Prior’s metronomic drumming, Oscar Cash’s saxophone solos or Joseph Mount, up front, pulling the whole show together? Oh and who else could pull off those light bulbs strapped to their chests with such supreme style? Effortlessly cool.