2021 in Gigs

Heaven 17
Heaven 17

A little later than usual, here’s my review of the gigs I saw last year.

In 2020, I saw four gigs. In 2021, I almost doubled that to seven. Obviously, we spent a lot of the year with most music venues closed, so those few gigs I saw were all in the second half of the year. Usually, I’d list my top ten gigs. This year (as last year) I’ll be listing them all. So here they are in chronological order.

  • Tubular Bells at the Royal Festival Hall
    This was a strange show for several reasons. Firstly, it was advertised as commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Tubular Bells. But the album was released in 1973, so it was two years early (apparently it was the fiftieth anniversary of when Mike Oldfield started writing the piece). Secondly, Mike Oldfield wasn’t performing – but you needed to examine the publicity very carefully to work that out. And thirdly, there was a troupe of acrobats that were pointlessly leaping around the stage while the musicians played. All in all, I thought this was slightly disappointing.
  • Heaven 17 at the Roundhouse
    Many of these shows were postponed from 2020. This was originally intended to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Human League album, Travelogue, but it ended but being the forty-first anniversary. But none of that mattered. This was Heaven 17 playing all of the first two Human League albums and it was absolutely wonderful. Apparently, they had invited Phil Oakey to take part, but he wasn’t interested. That’s Heaven 17 in the photo above.
  • LUMP at the Scala
    LUMP is Laura Marling playing with Tunng’s Mike Lindsay. I kinda assumed that their first album was going to be a one-off, but they produced a second album in 2020. This was the first gig I’d been to in a cramped venue like the Scala for a couple of years and it all got a bit too much for me. I really didn’t enjoy the atmosphere and left during the third or fourth song. I still love the album though and I hope to build up my tolerance for gig crowds over the coming months.
  • The Staves at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
    Actually, this was only two-thirds of the Staves. One of the sisters has has a baby recently and has decided to sit out tours for a couple of years. But the two remaining sisters still put on a great show.
  • Laura Marling at the Roundhouse
    Given how few gigs I saw last year, it’s surprising how repetitive they were. Here’s Laura Marling again (and the Roundhouse again!) Although she has yet to match the heights of the Short Movie tour, Laura Marling is always worth seeing and this show was no exception.
  • Heaven 17 at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire
    More repetition. I think the two Heaven 17 gigs were originally supposed to be several months apart, but the vagaries of the Covid scheduling changes led to them being just two months apart. This one celebrated the fortieth (actually forty-first) anniversary of Heaven 17 starting and was a glorious journey through their back catalogue. Oh, and the support was Pete Wylie, so I can finally say I’ve seen all three members of the Crucial Three live.
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark at Hammersmith Apollo
    OMD are just one of those bands that I see live whenever I can. I’ve now been seeing them for over forty years (since they supported Gary Numan in 1980). They have such a massive back catalogue that they can just play hit after hit for two hours. But this show was a bit different as they started by playing all of their 1981 album, Architecture and Morality. They were as good as I’ve ever seen them.

And that was 2021. What will happen in 2022? Well, I have tickets for a dozen or shows but who knows how many of them I’ll actually see? I’ve already had emails postponing the Wolf Alice and Peter Hook shows I was going to see this month. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how the rest of the year pans out.

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