Monday, 26 March 2012

JP's Top 5 Shows of 2011

The main reason for wanting to start a blog was partly just for some fun and partly to have something that documents where so much of our time, money and conversations are spent.
So what better way to start than to reminisce about the year that was, and where so much of said time, money and discussions were spent during 2011. So with much thought and some debate, I present my Top 5 shows of 2011. Please feel free to comment, challenge, add to or just ignore.

5. Kaiser Chiefs - having never seen them before, I thought perhaps I had missed the boat with the KC's and based on the relatively small crowd at HMH their days as a major draw card might be numbered. But never the less I was blown away by their energy and stage presence and how they and had the whole crowd jumping from start to finish. Ricky Wilson has to be one of the most charismatic lead singers out there and really earned his keep this night. With nothing but Na Na Na Na Naa in my head for days after the show, it was certainly memorable!

4. My Mourning Jacket - I tend to go into every show with at least one song I would like to hear, and you know when they come out and open with that song the night can go in two directions. MMJ set the bar high opening with Victory Dance but somehow things only got better and louder from there. Moving ahead of The Mars Volta, this was the loudest show I had ever been to. But with a good sound mix, this was definitely psychedelic post-rock at its best.

3. Rural Alberta Advantage - it was the second time I had seen the RAA and on the back of their new album they graduated from the basement to the 'kleine zaal' at Paradiso. Paul Banwatt's drumming sounded even more intense on an actual stage and although the sound mix could have been better they hit all the right notes and played all the right songs, with plenty of stuff from the brilliant Hometowns. Finishing the night out in the middle of the small but eager crowd with an unplugged version of Good Night was a definite highlight and Amy Cole's harmonies left me an even bigger fan than when I had arrived.

2. Iron and Wine - this was my first live experience of Samuel Beam and his hauntingly beautiful folk-pop melodies, and even though the show was in February, I knew it was going to be tough to beat all year long. With the Paradiso's stained glass windows providing the perfect backdrop, he worked through a lot of new songs from the fantastic Kiss Each Other Clean as well as some older numbers. Finishing with The Trapeze Swinger in the encore, he left all the punters smiling, having been taken on a blissful journey of indescribably dreamy music and warm banter with the crowd which will have me lining up to see him again - anytime, anywhere.

1. The Avett Brothers - perhaps the most telling fact that I can say about this show is that I hardly knew anything of the band when buying the tickets based on a friends recommendation and yet they now have 7 songs on my i-pods Top 25 Most Played, including spots 1 and 2. This show was full of beautiful harmonies, fun music and a really nice rapport between the band and the crowd, despite having to stop one of their best songs due to a scuffle on the main floor. The two bothers performed an incredible a cappella version of Down in the Valley with bass player Bob Crawford to finish the main set before coming out to do Ten Thousand Words on their own with two guitars in the encore. So much talent and a brilliant performance.

The Avett Brothers - Ten Thousand Words
Paradiso, 24 August 2011 

Some honorable mentions also need to go out to the following bands/shows:

Best Support Band - The Head and the Heart: supported both The Low Anthem and MMJ (see above) and came very close to making the top 5 without an actual show of their own. They look like they are enjoying every minute of what they do and they certainly won the crowd over at both these shows, which is a big call for any support band. Do yourself a favour and try and get hold of a copy of their self titled debut album - perhaps my album of 2011, but that is for another list?!

Most Fun Show - Peter, Bjorn & John: for 3 years in a row this award has been a close call between P,B&J and The Cat Empire thanks to both bands fun and energetic shows and consistent touring schedules. The deciding factor this year may have been Peter of P,B&J jumping off the stage and singing the second half of Young Folks standing next to me on the bench I had somehow secured to see over the typically tall Dutch crowd. Definitely a show I will always remember fondly!

Best and Worst and perhaps Most Memorable Show - Brian Wilson: about 30 seconds into this show it was clear Brian Wilson cannot really sing in tune anymore. And this was demonstrated over and over again for the first half of the show as he painfully worked his way through his Reimagines Gershwin album. Part 2 of the show was a whole other story; with what was probably the best cover band I have ever seen ticking off all the Beach Boy classics with the writer of some of the best songs in pop music history there on stage to pretend to play along. Despite all the great bands I have seen this year, something tells me I will still be hearing God Only Knows in 20 years time and remembering the night I saw the master song-writer in person.


No comments:

Post a Comment