At about this time of the year, I usually write an overview of the gigs I’ve seen in the year. The post always starts with me saying how many gigs I’ve seen during the year. This is the tenth year I’ve been writing these posts and in that time I’ve seen between 35 (2018) and 60 (2013) gigs in a year.
This year, I’ve seen four gigs.
I’m going to add in a strange gig-cum-lecture that I saw a couple of weeks ago in order to list the top five gigs I saw this year. Here they are in chronological order.
- John Grant at the Roundhouse
This is the second time I’ve seen John Grant live. The first time (at the Hammersmith Apollo a few years ago) he had a full band with him, but this time it was just him and a pianist. It was a great start to my gig-going year. I also had a ticket to see him at Alexandra Palace later in the year, but that show has already been postponed twice.
- Hate Moss at the Old Blue Last
I don’t go to the Old Blue Last enough. It’s a tiny room above a pub in Shoreditch and every time I go there I have a really good time. This time I was drawn there because one of the support acts (M-orchestra) is an old colleague from the BBC who had just started gigging again after a long hiatus. He was great (check out his streams on Facebook) and the fact that the other two acts on the bill were also very good was a bonus.
- Ladytron at Heaven
Another show I went to because of the support act. I try to see Stealing Sheep whenever I can so I bought a ticket for this just knowing they were on the bill. If you know anything about my musical taste then you’ll probably be surprised that I had never listened to Ladytron before buying the ticket. I investigated them before the gig and found an amazing band who I’ve been listening to a lot ever since. That’s Ladytron in the photo at the top of the page.
- Tove Lo at the Forum
I saw Tove Lo at Mighty Hoopla in Brockwell Park in 2019. I’m not much of a festival fan but I enjoyed her and added her to my list of people to see indoors as soon as possible. This was that show and it was pretty enjoyable stuff, but subsequent events mean it has taken on rather more importance than it might otherwise have enjoyed.
I saw Tove Lo on March 12. Eleven days later, Boris Johnson put us in lockdown and my inbox turned into a sea of cancellations and postponements. I had a full schedule of upcoming gigs booked, but they’ve all been either cancelled or postponed until next year (or, in a couple of cases, 2022). I watched a couple of streamed gigs, but it’s really not the same at all. I have, however, sneaked in one more kind of gig in between London lockdowns.
- Brian Cox and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican
I don’t usually include classical shows in these lists. To be honest, I don’t go to a lot of classical concerts as it’s mostly not my thing at all. But this was a bit different. Brian Cox gave some brief “mini-lectures” between classical pieces that had been chosen to tie in with the questions that he raised. It was a strange show. Probably about a quarter of the seats at the Barbican were used (they sold online tickets too), walking around the venue was very tightly controlled and there was no interval. They even expanded the stage into the stalls in order for the orchestra to be socially distanced. The concert is available on the BBC web site for a few weeks if you’d like to hear it.
So what does 2021 hold? Well, it’s hard to be sure. I’ve got a fistful of tickets for shows that were postponed from 2020 but, at this point, I wouldn’t like to guess which ones I’ll actually get to see.
What about you? What did you get to see before the venues all closed down? What are your predictions for how things will go next year?