2016 in Gigs

Sunflower Bean

Time for my traditional round-up of the gigs I saw in the previous year.

According to Songkick, I saw 39 gigs in 2016. That’s the lowest number since 2012 (when I saw 36 – but had the excuse that my leg was in plaster for six weeks and I didn’t get out much).

Let’s start with the disappointments. I left two gigs at the interval. I had wanted to see Marc Almond for a long time, but when it finally happened it was all just too torch song for my tastes. I’m told the second half was much better.

Then there was Barclay James Harvest (or rather, John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest – the two surviving members of BJH both have their own touring version of the band). Sometimes going to see an act for the first time for thirty-five years isn’t a good idea. They just didn’t hold my interest the way they did back in the early 80s. When they took an early interval (after only half an hour on stage) I ducked out. I hope the second half was longer.

I didn’t leave, but I thought the Björk show at the Hammersmith Odeon was pretty disappointing too. I think I’m in a minority there though.

I only saw two bands twice – Sunflower Bean and the Magnetic North. And this might be the first year in living memory that I didn’t see any members of the Carthy clan playing.

I ticked off four more acts in my “acts from my youth that I never got round to seeing” list – Toyah, ELO, ABC and the Human League. I already have a ticket to see ABC again.

Usually, Amanda Palmer gets a free pass onto the top ten list, but in 2016 I only saw her as a special guest at a Jherek Bischoff show that didn’t quite make the cut.

Here, in chronological order, are the ten best gigs I saw in 2016.

  • Sunflower Bean – the first show (at the Dome) just trumps the second (at the Scala) proving once again that smaller venues are better. I reckon 2017 will be your last chance to see them in a smallish venue. That’s them in the photo.
  • SOAK – I’ve loved SOAK since I first saw her support Chvrches a couple of years ago. And live, she gets better and better.
  • ELO – Yes, incredibly cheesy, of course. But great fun. They have so many fabulous songs.
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – This was the night they played Architecture & Morality and Dazzle Ships. Not really their best-known material – but the fans loved it.
  • Laura Marling – You can’t go wrong seeing Laura Marling play whenever possible and this show was no exception. I already have a ticket to see her in a couple of months time when she launches her new album.
  • Belle and Sebastian – Only the second time I’ve seen them, but they are now a must-see. This show had them playing all of Tigermilk. I’m seeing them again in 2017.
  • The Orb – The Orb playing all of Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld. What’s not to like?
  • The Magnetic North – The show at RIBA was the second time I saw them in 2016. Their new album, Prospect of Skelmersdale is even better than their debut and I highly recommend seeing them live.
  • ABC – In the first half, they played random hits along with selections from The Lexicon of Love II. But in the second half, they played all of The Lexicon of Love. Everyone in the audience knew every lyric and sang along with gusto. It was sublime.
  • Christine and the Queens – What an awesome act. One of the best live performances I’ve seen for a very long time.

I’ve just deleted Marianne Faithful and The Staves from this list as it was too long. Other shows bubbling outside the top ten include Barenaked LadiesSt. Etienne and Hannah Peel. It’s mark of the quality of the shows I’ve seen this year that I haven’t found space for SavagesPixies or Billy Bragg.

And let’s spare a thought for acts we’ll never see performing again. I will alway regret never seeing Prince live and it’s over twenty years since I saw David Bowie play. But of all the talented musicians who died in 2016 I think it’s the two Leonard Cohen shows I saw (in 1993 and 2013) that I will treasure the most.

There are “year in gigs” posts for every year since 2011.

2015 in Gigs

Chvrches - Tufnell Park Dome

As has become traditional round these parts, it’s time for my annual review of the gigs I saw last year.

I saw 48 gigs in 2015. That’s up on 2014’s 45, but still short of my all time high of 60 in 2013. I saw Chvrches, Stealing Sheep and Paper Aeroplanes twice. I was supposed to see a couple of other artists twice, but Natalie Prass cancelled the second show and I couldn’t get to the second Soak show as I was ill.

As always, there were some disappointments. Renaissance really weren’t very good (I waited to hear “Northern Lights” and then buggered off) and Elbow weren’t as good as I’d seen them before. But the biggest disappointment this year has to be Bob Dylan. He was terrible. I left at the interval.

About half-way through the year, I stopped writing reviews on my gig site. I’ve put up posts with just the data about the shows and I hope to back-fill some of the reviews at some point, but I can’t see it happening soon. Hopefully I’ll keep the site more up to date this year.

So here (in chronological order) are my favourite gigs of the year:

  • Stealing Sheep – It’s been far too long since I saw Stealing Sheep, but the release of a new album brought them to London a couple of times. I’m going to do with the Chat’s Palace show as my favourite as I like smaller venues.
  • Laura Marling – This was simply astonishing in every way. I was completely spellbound thoughout this show. Almost certainly gig of the year.
  • Soak – If there’s any justice in the world, Soak is going to be huge. See her in intimate venues while you can.
  • Amanda Palmer – There always has to be an Amanda Palmer gig on the list. It’s the law.
  • Chvrches – Another act I saw twice. The small album launch show at the Tufnell Park Dome just pipped the huge extravaganza at Alexandra Palace.
  • Heaven 17 – Another band I’ve started seeing whenever I can.
  • Garbage – Sometimes, seeing bands decades after their peak can be a little disappointing. That certainly wasn’t the case for Garbage.
  • John Grant – First time I’d seen John Grant. I hope it won’t be the last.
  • Fuzzbox – Another act from my youth who made an impressive return.
  • The Unthanks – I’ve been meaning to get round to see the Unthanks for years. I’m glad I did. I’ll be seeing them again as soon as possible.

Gigs that fell just outside of the top ten included Julian Cope, Suzanne Vega, Paper Aeroplanes and Smoke Fairies. Oh, and the Indie Daze Festival was great too.

I already have tickets for a dozen shows in 2016. I’m particularly looking forward to ELO in April and seeing the Cure for the first time for far too many years in December.

2014 in Gigs

Slightly later than usual, here’s my overview of the gigs I saw in 2014.

I saw 45 gigs in 2014. That’s 25% down on 2013’s 60 (which is my current record). Letting it drop below an average of one a week is disappointing. I’ll have to try harder this year.

I saw both Martin Carthy and Chvrches three times in 2014 and Annie Eve twice. Martin Carthy is definitely the artist I’ve seem most since I’ve been keeping track of such things. And it’s the first time for many years that I haven’t seen Amanda Palmer. But that’s only because she didn’t play London in 2014 (well, she played one small gig at the British Library, but I didn’t hear about it until it was far too late to get tickets).

What was less than impressive. Well, my review of Yes at the Albert Hall upset a couple of Yes fans. And Eddi Reader wasn’t as good as the previous time I saw her. But, in general, the quality of things I saw was pretty high. Perhaps I was being more picky and that’s why I saw fewer shows.

Anyway, here (in chronological order) are my ten favourite gigs of the year:

  • Haim – Haimwere on my top ten list from 2013. I saw them again early in 2014 and they were just as good.
  • Chvrches – I saw Churches three times. I’m going to choose the Somerset House show as my favourite. Because I was standing about five rows away from the stage.
  • Annie Eve – I saw Annie Eve twice. I think the first show (at the Lexington) was just better, but only because the Lexington is a much better venue than the Borderline. I’d love to see her play somewhere like the Union Chapel.
  • Rick Wakeman – Something a bit different here. Rick Wakeman playing all of Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Very cheesy. Very pompus. Very wonderful.
  • Lorde – Lorde couldn’t be more different than Rick Wakeman! But this was probably my favourite gig of the year. I can see myself enjoying Lorde shows for many years to come. Coincidentally, Lorde was also the support at the next gig on the list.
  • Arcade Fire – I had wanted to see Arcade Fire for a few years. This show was every bit as overblown and wonderful as I hoped it would be.
  • Hazel O’Connor – Another complete contrast. 80s legend playing a low-key show in the pub at the end of my road. Wonderful stuff.
  • Kate Bush – Probably on everyone’s list. For all the obvious reasons.
  • Tunng – Always love seeing Tunng. And this career retrospective show was great.
  • Peter Gabriel – And another stadium show to close with. I was astonished to find out that it was twenty years since I saw Peter Gabriel. It certainly won’t be another twenty until I see him again.

As always, there were shows that were unlucky to fall just outside the top ten list. Special mentions should go to Paper Aeroplanes, Neutral Milk Hotel, Lisa Knapp and Banks.

Right, so what’s happening this year?

2013 in Gigs

According to Songkick, I saw 60 gigs in 2013. That’s quite an improvement on my previous record of 50 in 2011 and well past 2012’s rather disappointing 36. Songkick have stopped doing their excellent “My Year” feature, so I don’t have quite as many facts and figures at my fingertips. If they don’t do something similar next year, I might need to reimplement it myself.

This was the year that I started a separate blog about the gigs I go to. I started it early in June, but I’ve also added stub entries for a number of earlier shows.

As always, there were a few unimpressive shows. In particular, two old prog rock bands – Caravan and Camel – were both rather dull. And both MGMT and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band were massive disappointments.

So what did I like? Here, in chronological order, are ten gigs that I really enjoyed.

  1. My Bloody Valentine – I had never seen them before and had given up on ever seeing them. But, suddenly, they were back with a new album and a tour. I’m proud to say that I got through the whole show without resorting to ear-plugs.
  2. James – I bought a ticket for this largely because Echo and the Bunnymen were supporting and I had never seen them. They were great, but I’d forgotten what a fantasitc live band James are. It’s got to be twenty years since I saw them. I won’t be leaving it so long next time.
  3. Billy Bragg – I saw Billy Bragg twice this year. Both shows were great, but I think the atmosphere was better in the Union Chapel. This was also the show where he played all of Life’s A Riot as a second encore.
  4. Leonard Cohen – There are very few people who can tempt me to the O2 arena (probably London’s most soulless venue). But Leonard Cohen is one of them. Any year with a Leonard Cohen gig in it is a very good year.
  5. Amanda Palmer – Amanda Palmer is the only person who has been on all my annual top gigs lists. And if you’ve seen her live, you’ll know why. She always puts on a sensational show.
  6. David Byrne & St Vincent – As soon as I heard that David Byrne and St Vincent were making a record together, I knew that the tour was going to be unmissable. And I was right.
  7. Annie Eve – Annie Eve was  the only person I saw three times this year. And I hope to see her many more times in 2014. My favourite show was her EP launch show at Old St Pancras Church. But she’s always well worth seeing.
  8. Tunng – I saw Tunng twice this year. They were on top form both times, but I think I just preferred the second show when I saw them at Heaven.
  9. Heaven 17 – I thought this was just going to be a standard Heaven 17 show, but two things made it stand out. Firstly, the support was Scritti Politti. And secondly, Heaven 17 started by playing forty minutes of old Human League songs. It was a fantastic night.
  10. Haim – Something new to end with. I’ve been playing Haim’s first album pretty much non-stop since it was released. And they were even better live. I’ve already bought a ticket to see them again next year.

It was really hard to choose just ten gigs for this list. There were plenty of others that were just outside the list. So here’s an honourable mention for Sinéad O’Connor, Serafina Steer, Sigur Rós, Edwyn Collins and The Polyphonic Spree.

It was a great year for gigs. And next year is already shaping up to be just as good. I already have tickets to see Haim, Arcade Fire, Chvrches and a dozen other shows.

What great live music did I miss this year? What do you recommend for next year?

2012 in Gigs

Here’s an overview of the gigs I saw in 2012. I saw 36 gigs during the year. That’s quite a lot down on 2011, but that’s partly because I broke my leg and didn’t go to gigs for six weeks.

I saw some larger gigs than in the previous year. I saw Radiohead, The Killers and Elbow all at the O2. In all cases the bands were great, but the venue is horrible. I also went to Hyde Park to see Paul Simon, which was definitely one of the highlights of the year.

I think that I didn’t see anyone more than twice last year. But there were at least four acts that I saw twice – Antonio Lulić, Alessi’s Ark, Tegan and Sara and Suzanne Vega. I saw Tegan and Sara on two consecutive nights – their own headlining gig at the Forum and then supporting The Killers the following night.

I saw more than my fair share of unimpressive gigs. In particular, Dexys and Sparks (both, coincidentally at the Barbican) were two hugely disappointing shows.

Here, in purely chronological order, are the gigs I enjoyed the most in 2012. I wanted to list a top ten, but I couldn’t get the list smaller than twelve.

  • Sinead O’Connor – Haven’t seen her live since a Finsbury Park Fleadh about twenty years ago and I was worried that she’d be a bit rubbish. But she was so good that I’ve already booked to see her twice this year. Her latest album is really good too.
  • Suzanne Vega – As I mentioned above, I saw her twice during the year. I think the first one (playing acoustic in the Union Chapel) was just better than the other (with a band, playing the whole of Solitude Standing at the Barbican). But they were both great nights. She’s definitely now on my list of people to see whenever I can.
  • Amanda Palmer – An Amanda Palmer gig is always awesome. This gig at Village Underground was no exception. Her new band, The Grand Theft Orchestra, is great. It’s a shame that she has cancelled her 2013 tour because a close friend is really ill – but I completely understand why she did  it.
  • Paul Simon – It was the 25th anniversary of the Graceland tour and Simon got together as many of the original band as possible. This was a fantastic evening.
  • Kathryn Tickell – Something a bit different. Kathryn Tickell’s show pulls together lots of music and talk from her native Northumbria. It’s low key, but enthralling.
  • Kate Rusby – How has Kate Rusby been making records for twenty years? This show, celebrating that fact, was all kinds of amazing.
  • Amy Macdonald – This was a bit of a surprise. I knew I quite liked Macdonald. I’d bought her first two albums. I’d even listened to them a few times. So I bought a ticket on a whim. I’m glad I did, because this was a great night. I’m going to see her again at the Palladium later this year.
  • The Divine Comedy – The day after the Amy Macdonald gig I was back in the same venue for Neil Hannon’s 42nd birthday party. This was the second Divine Comedy gig I’ve seen and they’ve both been fabulous. I must really start listening to more of their records.
  • The Magnetic North – I saw Hannah Peel playing as part of two bands this year. She’s in John Foxx’s new band The Maths, but I much prefer The Magnetic North. I don’t know if this is a permanent band. So far they’ve recorded one album, inspired by Orkney, which they played at this gig.
  • Beth Orton – Since I got back into going to gigs a few years ago, Beth Orton has been top of my list of people to see. And to finally see her in a venue as lovely as the Union Chapel was incredible. This is probably my gig of the year.
  • Stealing Sheep – I saw Stealing Sheep four times in 2011 but for various reasons I missed most of their London gigs in 2012. So I was really determined to get to this gig at the Bush Hall in December. It was a year (almost to the day) since I had last seen them and it was really interesting to see how much they had improved in that time. I mean they were great to start with, but now they are phenomenal.
  • Antonio Lulić – Yes, Antonio is a friend, but even if he wasn’t I’m sure I’d still consider him one of the best live acts currently playing the circuit. At my local pub (which is also one of my favourite venues) he put on a great end of year show where he played for an hour. And the whole set is available to stream from SoundCloud.

Review of 2011: Favourite Posts

And here’s the second post in my review of 2011. This is a list of my favourite posts from the year. In 2010 I said it was harder to choose posts from that year as I had blogged less than in previous years. Well, I actually blogged even less in 2011 so it was even harder this year.

As usual I’ve tried to pick one post from each month, but because of the scarcity of posts I’ve had to bend the rules at times. Usually I don’t include posts that have already been mentioned in the list of most popular posts, but that has proved impossible this year so there is a small amount of repetition.

  • Boothill Foot-Tappers. The Boothill Foot-Tappers were one of my favourite band from twenty-five years ago. I thought I’d never see them play again, so it was great that they got together for a one-off reunion gig.
  • Leaving LoveFilm. I cancelled my LoveFilm subscription early in the year. This post explained why.
  • Genealogy Primer. A friend on Facebook asked for help starting his family tree. I wrote a quick braindump in reply. Later I thought that other people might find it useful so I turned it into a blog post.
  • Daily Mail on Google and Adele. One of the most ridiculous articles ever from the Daily Mail, debunked easily with the aid of Google.
  • Watching the Press – Notes. In May I gave a talk at Opentech about the nonsense published by the British tabloid press and how a group of us try to bring this to the public’s attention by blogging about it. This post contains the notes from that talk.
  • Free Web Advice: TalkTalk. TalkTalk really annoyed me by phoning me despite my phone number being registered with the TPS. They then annoyed me even more by making it next to impossible to discuss the matter with them. This post enumerated the many ways that their web site made this hard. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I finally just gave up.
  • Reading the News. A post about how I read the news these days and why a Kindle subscription to a newspaper doesn’t really fit into my life.
  • Hating Gnome 3. My favourite Linux distribution switched its default interface to Gnome 3. This made me very sad.
  • The Birth of a Meme. Some people writing in the Daily Mail claimed that the BBC had banned the use of the terms BC and AD and had forced broadcasters into using BCE and CE instead. This was completely untrue but that didn’t stop it repeated all over the media. Even now I suspect that a large proportion of the public think that it’s true.
  • Dorries on Humanism. Nadine Dorries was nominated for the New Humanist’s annual Bad Faith Award. She responded with a trademark closely-argued explanation of why Humanism is an extreme belief that no-one should admit to holding. Her reasoning obviously impressed New Humanist’s readers as she went on to win by a huge majority.
  • Winterval. More nonsense from the Daily Mail. But this time they’re admitting that it’s nonsense. When they started to publish a “Corrections and Clarifications” column I don’t think that anyone would have predicted that it would be used to undermine their core beliefs so quickly.
  • The War on Christmas Cards. Another Mail article to close with. They claimed that there was an atheist plot to keep religious Christmas cards out of the shops. They also complained about the increased numbers of “obscene” cards – whilst, in another article, praising the work of Donald Gill from a hundred years ago.

It was only while writing this review that I noticed that four of these twelve articles are about the Daily Mail. Looks like the blog might, finally, be developing a theme.

Last year was my lightest year for blogging. In fact every year has seen fewer post since I joined Twitter. Tweets are, of course, far less effort than blog posts. But nevertheless I shall, once again, endeavour to blog more often in 2012.

Thanks for reading in 2011.

 

Review of 2011: Most Popular Posts

As I’ve done for the last few years I’m going to spend a couple of days looking back at the year on this blog. Firstly, here’s a list of the ten most popular posts on the blog this year.

  1. Winterval. No surprise here. Because I monitor the Mail’s Corrections and Clarifications column, I was one of the first people to see that they had finally admitted that Winterval wasn’t the atheist/muslim plot they’d always claimed it was.
  2. Leaving LoveFilm. This has been a bit of a slow-burner. It’s only so high because it was published early in the year. I explained why LoveFilm’s rental model no longer fitted in with the way I want to watch films. Still waiting for them to offer streaming-only subscriptions.
  3. Hitchen’s Last Laugh. A look at the nonsense that took place on Twitter a couple of weeks ago following the sad death of Christopher Hitchens.
  4. MPs and Facts. Not much politics on the list this year. This is a reaction to Nadine Dorries’ appearance on Any Questions where she (unsurprisingly) talked nonsense about drugs.
  5. Chuggers. I’d been meaning to write something like this for at least a couple of years. Surely everyone hates being stopped by chuggers, don’t they? This was probably the longest comment thread of the year.
  6. Daily Mail on Google and Adele. I’m rather pleased with this one. The mail published some nonsense about how Google is deliberately encouraging piracy to bring down the British music industry. It didn’t take very much research to disprove their claims.
  7. Independent URLs. I’d forgotten this one. Back in April someone discovered a tiny flaw in the way the Independent’s web site automatically cleaned up URLs. Much hilarity ensued. This post explained what was really going on.
  8. Alternative Vote. An attempt to explode some of the myths used by the No campaign to stop people voting for the alternative vote. It apparently didn’t work.
  9. Message to ADT. Surprised to find this on the list to be honest. The ADT web site annoyed me so I wrote a post about it. Ten days later I got a reply from someone at ADT saying that my suggestions had been implemented. Which was nice.
  10. MPs on Twitter. A review of the number of MPs on Twitter and how it had changed over time. I even drew a nice graph. I need to revisit this project.

So that’s what you’ve been reading on the blog this year. At some point in the next couple of days, I’ll post a list of my favourite posts.

 

2011 in Gigs

One of my pet hates is all that “review of the year” stuff that appears before the year is over. But I’m not planning to go to any gigs in the next three days, so I feel justified in reviewing the gigs I’ve seen this year before the end of the year.

According to Songkick I’ve seen exactly fifty gigs this year. That’s over twice as many as I saw in 2010.

There are two artists that I saw four times – Stealing Sheep and Martin Carthy, but as Carthy was a guest star on two of those appearances, I guess that Stealing Sheep are the band I saw most. Not bad for an act I first saw in August. There were two acts that I saw three times – Antonio Lulić and Ed Sheeran. I also saw Amanda Palmer twice – and as they were on a Friday and the following Monday, I expect she was the artist I saw with the shortest gap between performances.

I’ve seen gigs in rooms above pubs and one gig at Wembley Arena. Judging by my attendance at venues, my favourites are the Union Chapel and the Barbican Centre.

So what did I like? Actually let’s start with what I didn’t like. I walked out of two gigs halfway through the main act. I went to see Other Lives purely because Hannah Peel was supporting. She was great, as always, but they were terrible. Later in the year I decided to go to see Emmy the Great purely because lots of people I like say how she is. Unfortunately I chose her Christmas party gig with Tim Wheeler and it was horrible. I left after half an hour. In both cases I took a chance on liking an act and in both cases I was wrong. I suspect I’ll be doing a lot less of that next year.

There were a lot of nostalgic gigs on the list this year. Eddi Reader at the Union Chapel was great. Ian McCulloch a week later at the same venue was less great. I think I would have been better off seeing Echo and the Bunnymen instead. Later in the year I saw two great nostalgic gigs at the Bush Hall – Roddy Frame and Michelle Shocked.

I also saw some stuff from even earlier than that. Van der Graaf Generator were really good, but I didn’t really enjoy Yes that much. I even saw Hawkwind for the first time since 1982.

I’ve trying to work out what my favourite gigs were. But there such a wide range of stuff that it’s hard to compare them. Here, in purely chronological order, are ten highlights of my live music year.

  • Antonio Lulić, Jesper Ejrup, Trevor John, and Tess and Dibs at the Bedford. Didn’t see enough stuff at my local pub this year, but this was a brilliant night. All of the acts were top quality but the mad Danes in Jesper Ejrup’s band were particularly brilliant.
  • The Boothill Foot-tappers at the 100 Club. This was pure nostalgia. I’ve written before about what this band meant to me. It was great to have the chance to see them again.
  • Billy Bragg at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Hadn’t seen Bragg play for far too long. This gig proved he still has it.
  • Rain Dogs Revisited at the Barbican. Various artists playing songs from Tom Wait’s album “Rain Dogs”. I love these nights at the Barbican. There’s always someone fabulous playing that I’ve never heard of. On this occasion, that was St Vincent. As soon as I got home I bought both of her albums.
  • Pulp at Brixton Academy. I never saw Pulp in the 90s and I was seriously considering going to the Wired festival to see them in the summer. Glad I didn’t though as this gig in Brixton was very nearly perfect.
  • Amanda Palmer at Heaven. An Amanda Palmer gig is always a treat, and this was no exception. Certainly one of the maddest nights I’ve had this year. Saw her again (at the British Library of all places) three days later for a rather more subdued (but equally brilliant) night.
  • Kal Lavelle, Ryan Keen, and Antonio Lulić at the Bedford. Proof (I hope) that I don’t just enjoy seeing old farts play. Kal, Antonio and Ryan are part of an informal group of incredible singer-songwriters who are constantly playing around London (and further afield). At the time of this gig all three of them had recently supported Ed Sheeran at various gigs.
  • Roy Harper at the Royal Festival Hall. Someone else I should have seen years ago but never got round to. Plenty of interesting guest stars – including Jimmy Page.
  • Zappa Plays Zappa at the Barbican. Sadly, I’ll never get to see Frank Zappa play, but this is about as close as you can get. Dweezil Zappa plays note-perfect renditions of his father’s music. And at some points they had film of Frank playing which the live band jammed along to.
  • Stealing Sheep at the Old Blue Last. Must include Stealing Sheep on the list. This was probably the best I saw them play.

All in all it’s been a good year for live music. I’ve ticked off a few more old favourites that I hadn’t previously got round to seeing and I’ve seen a lot of new and interesting bands. I’m already booking tickets for next year and hopefully it’ll be just as interesting as this year was.

What did you see that you really enjoyed this year? Did I miss any absolutely essential shows? What’s going to be great next year?

Review of 2010: Favourite Posts

Here’s my list of my own favourite posts from the blog this year. As in previous years I’ve tried to pick one from each month (but August is missing as I didn’t write a single entry all month).

  • Andrew Wakefield
    The doctor who manufactured the MMR “controversy” was censured by the General Medical Council. I particularly wanted to draw attention to the nonsense found in the comments on the Daily Mail story. The Daily Mail was, of course, one of the papers that gave a lot of coverage to Wakefield’s nonsense – without bothering to check the facts.
  • Homeopathic Dilutions
    Another story that was inspired by the Daily Mail. They ran a story on homeopathy and one of the comments was from someone who obviously didn’t understand just how diluted homeopathic products are. This was an attempt to set him right.
  • The Learning Guitar
    A rare example of sentimentality on the blog as I lamented the end of the guitar that I had owned for over thirty-five years.
  • Modern Campaigning
    Some thoughts about the general election campaign – specifically on how it didn’t turn out to be the digital campaign that many of us were expecting.
  • Programme for Government
    Our new government issued a document describing its plans. I examined it for information about some of the subjects that the rationalist/skeptical community might be interested in. I was very disappointed.
  • On the Intelligence of MPs
    A discussion of how many MPs seem determined to demonstrate their lack of intelligence by supporting nonsense like homeopathy.
  • Greens and Science
    One of the MPs who signed an EDM supporting homeopathy was the Green Party’s first MP, Caroline Lucas. This seemed strange given her party’s policy on scientific evidence and medicine.
  • Where’s Your Data
    A look at some of the potential downsides of storing your data in the cloud.
  • 38 Degrees
    The internet is making it easier to contact your MP. But, if you’re not careful, that contact can do more harm that good. I looked at how 38 Degrees run the risk of annoying MPs.
  • Web Site Links
    A recurring theme this year (particularly when writing about Iain Dale or Nadine Dorries) was bloggers who don’t link to articles they are writing about. I explained why I thought it was a good idea to link to your sources and came up with some theories about why people might not do it.
  • The War You Don’t See
    A review of John Pilger’s latest documentary.

It was harder to choose the list this year – largely because I haven’t been blogging so much this year and therefore there was less to choose from. But I shall try to blog more in 2011.

Thanks for reading.

Review of 2010: Most Popular Posts

As is becoming traditional, I’m going spend a couple of posts rounding up the last year on my blog. Today I’ll list the ten most read posts and tomorrow I’ll look at some of my favourites.

  1. Alice in Wonderland
    I really wasn’t very impressed with Tim Burton’s take on Alice in Wonderland. But I saw it and wrote about it the weekend it was released – which no doubt account for this post’s popularity.
  2. Berlin time
    This post did very well for one that was written so late in the year. In the Daily Mail Peter Hitchins wrote some jingoistic nonsense about the campaign to move the UK to European time. It was really easy to puncture his arguments.
  3. Polite Discourse
    Ah, memories… The day I was called a “sack of shit” by one of the UK’s most popular political bloggers. What a lovely bloke Iain Dale is.
  4. Iain Dale Talks Balls
    And speaking of Iain Dale, here he is again. This time he’s running with a complete non-story about Ed Balls being a member of the Oxford University Conservative Association. I particularly wanted to draw attention to the fact that he failed to link to his source for this story – as the source makes it clear that the story is bollocks.
  5. The People’s Pamphlet
    I don’t usually do April Fools jokes. But I enjoyed being involved in this one. Tim Ireland, Sim-O and I all claimed we were taking a month off work to campaign against Nadine Dorries in Mid Beds.
  6. Snow and Global Warming
    A perennial story. We have a bit of snow in the UK and some idiot thinks that’s conclusive proof that there’s no such thing as global warming. On this occasion it was Ann Winterton speaking in the Commons.
  7. Amazon Kindle
    Usually, posts from the end of the year don’t do so well in this list for obvious logistical reasons. But here’s another post from November that proved rather popular. In it, I reviewed the Amazon Kindle and bemoaned the fact that book publishers are making exactly the same mistakes with DRM that record companies made before them.
  8. Press Complaints Commission
    Anther project I was involved in with Tim Ireland and some other sensible bloggers. We were trying to use the PCC’s annual open review to suggest some useful changes. Of course, we got nowhere.
  9. Homeopathy Petition
    In February I set up a petition on the Number 10 web site calling for the government to take notice of the House of Commons Science and Technology committee’s evidence check on homeopathy. Unfortunately, all petitions were put on hold during the general election and the new government has closed the site down.
  10. General Election in Battersea
    I’m glad this post was popular. Whilst the election was going on, I was monitoring the way that my local candidates were using social media to get their message across. With a couple of exceptions, the results were not encouraging.

And there we are. That’s the ten most read articles from the site in 2010. As in previous years, I’m glad that it’s a pretty good cross-section of the things that I wrote about over the year.

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks for reading last year and I hope you continue to find something worth reading on the site this year.