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2019 in Gigs

It’s time that I wrote my now-traditional review of the gigs I saw last year.

It felt like I didn’t see so many gigs this year, but Songkick tells me I saw 43 which was more than the previous year (but still some considerable way short of the 60 I saw in 2013). I’ll get to the best ones in a minute, but let’s talk about a few of the disappointments first.

The first gig I saw in the year was the Residents at the Union Chapel. I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting, but it was all a bit disjointed and amateur-sounding, so I left before very long. Having really enjoyed the Bananarama reunion tour a couple of years ago, I was looking forward to seeing them (now Siobhan-less) again, particularly at a lovely little venue like Omeara – but they were a terrible disappointment and wanted to play their new album instead of the hits that I wanted to hear. I really wanted to enjoy the post-Pete Shelley Buzzcocks show at the Albert Hall, but it was a lot like a third-rate Buzzcocks tribute band and I left quite a while before the end.

And here, in chronological order, are my ten favourite gigs of the year.

  • Tears For Fears:┬áThis was postponed from the previous year. It takes a good band to make it worth going to the O2 Arena. And Tears for Fears certainly hit the spot.
  • Desperate Journalist: An up and coming band that I really want to hear more from. Oh, and they were supported by She Makes War, who is always worth seeing.
  • Grant: This was a slightly strange one. A night of Scandinavian music at the Lexington. We went because we wanted to see the first act, Moses Hightower (who were great). Grant was on next and she totally blew us away. I think we left soon after she finished.
  • Stealing Sheep: I don’t get to see Stealing Sheep as often as I used too, but they were touring this year because of their new album. I saw them twice. I enjoyed the show at Earth in Dalston the most. That’s them in the photo above.
  • Sleeper: I never got to see Sleeper back in the 90s. But I saw them twice this year. I think I just prefered the show at the 100 Club.
  • Swimming Girls: I’ve seen Swimming Girls as a support act and really wanted to see them playing a headline show. I finally got to do that at the Lexington this year. And then they announced they were splitting up.
  • Cut Copy: A band that I hadn’t heard of at the start of this year. But this show at Somerset House was great and I’d certainly see them again.
  • Sunflower Bean: I always love seeing Sunflower Bean and this was at the Borderline (just before it closed down) and I thought the days of seeing them in venues this small were long past.
  • Midge Ure: This was pure nostalgia. Midge Ure’s current band played all Visage’s first album and Ultravox’s “Vienna” – two albums that he recorded in 1980.
  • Amanda Palmer: This wasn’t really a gig. It was more of a four-hour-long, intense psychotherapy session with occasional songs. I saw the prototype for this show in Edinburgh last year, but the full version was sensational.

Just outside of this list are shows by Pale Waves, Lloyd Cole, Wildwood Kin and OMD.

Oh, and I have a new regular gig-going companion this year. I asked her what her favourite gig of the year was and she voted for the Grant show at the Lexington.

2020 is already shaping up well. I have tickets to see John Grant (twice), Tove Lo and Ladytron. And there’s some heavyweight nostalgia coming – with gigs by the Pet Shop Boys and Bauhaus.

What about you? What live music did you really enjoy in 2019?