Seven Great Live Sets of 2010

So, here begins my end of year review thingy, and I thought I’d kick off with live music.

The highlight of the year was once again (a rather soggy) Green Man and I could easily have picked a whole line-up of GM sets. Apart from that, however, I didn’t get along to see as much music as I’d have liked (nor as much as last year). But nonetheless there were some really special live performances from 2010:

(Some of the vids are mine, some are the closest I could get…)

  • Avi Buffalo, Green Man

Trooping onstage looking like three bewildered teens, Avi Buffalo swooped and dived through most of their wonderful , shimmering record with a confidence and accomplishment that you wondered if they were going to have at the beginning. Giving the impression of genuinely enjoying their set as they played, they made faces at each other between songs and generally looked like they couldn’t believe their luck. I think we all felt the same.

  • Beirut, The Winter Gardens, Eastbourne

Saw them on the main stage in the rain at Green Man as well, but I always felt they would be better under a roof, where everything could all get a bit emotional. The Winter Gardens is a lovely old fashioned venue that I hope to get along to another time, and which really added to a brassy, sweaty evening. Took The Boy along with me as part of his A level celebrations and I like to think he was well rewarded for his travails.

  • LCD Soundsystem, The Academy, Bristol

Talking of sweaty, Bristol Academy in the summer, wedged in towards the front of a jostling, jarring mass at an LCD Soundsystem gig is a pretty fine place to be. Hadn’t been a massive fan until that evening, but really enjoyed an evening of Byrne-inspired jiggy-ness and spent the rest of the summer catching up on the records. Get innocuous!

  • Lee Perry, Colston Hall, Bristol

Bizarrely, the day before LCD Soundsystem, I’d been to see The Upsetter himself around the corner at Colston Hall. A real surfeit. Unable to persuade anyone else to join me, I was also unable to pass up an opportunity to see the great man himself. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but Perry didn’t disappoint and well into his seventies showed himself to be just as wonky and funky as you’d hope he would be.

  • Field Music, Guildhall, Gloucester

Also saw, Sunderland’s finest at Green Man, where they played a fine set, but I have to say their quieter, more intimate gig at the dear old Guildhall was even better and all the more satisfying for being one of barely fifty Gloucester folk who turned out. Self-effacing, charming and dizzyingly talented, Field Music may well be “The Best Band in Britain” (© M Cole).

  • Gotan Project, Colston Hall, Bristol

Another gig at Colston hall, and this time with my good lady, we enjoyed a lengthy, intoxicating dose of dubby, Latin trip hop, the memory of which will see us nicely into our dotage. Augmented by an imaginative projector show behind them, and a bone-shivering top class sound system, Gotan Project went through most of their new record and touched a lot of their older stuff too. One of only a few gigs I went to where I managed to get a really decent recording, which we are still playing in the car. Rich stuff.

  • John Grant, Green Man

As I said I could have picked a good few sets from Green Man, but John Grant’s particularly impressed me, because I hadn’t really got on with his very-highly regarded (nay, lauded) record. His stage presence and personality won me over pretty quickly, and it stuck out as one of the sets of the weekend. Still not a huge fan of the record, but the man himself was pretty striking.

Honourable Mention:

Not a set as such, but another highlight of Green Man was the first public appearance from Andy Kershaw since his time inside. Looking very nervous, and (he said later) unsure whether anyone would turn up to hear him, Kershaw, once settled, was quickly recognisable as the energetic, plain-speaking enthusiast of a few years ago. Full of stories and working on his book, his appearance was both funny and genuinely moving.

The lights go on, the lights go off…

As I think I said, one of the Green Man shows I’d been hoping to put up was the Beirut one, but then I thought I’d wait until I’d seen their Eastbourne show and do a sort of combined post, with elements from both shows.

In the end the Eastbourne one was a different show altogether and probably the better of the two.

By now I can’t actually remember such a lot about the Green Man set, (I imagine it was raining), so I’ll just refresh my memory with a video clip I took:

So, anyway, me and Michael trekked down to Eastbourne to see one of only three other performances they were doing. I couldn’t work out why Eastbourne had been chosen for the show (and I’m not really any the wiser, hardly Rock City…), but I have to say the old Winter Gardens is a fabulous little venue, all chandeliers and Victorian trappings, in the mould of our dear old Guild Hall, but lighter generally. Very impressed.

A couple of support bands came and went without event, and then Zac Condon led his troupe on stage, and began a terrific hour’s entertainment. The whole show mainly revolves around the interplay between his sweeping crooning vocals and the brass convoy to his left. But I really appreciated the classy understated work of accordionist Perrin Cloutier, as well. It really is an elegant sound they make.

The time passed very quickly and before we knew it the second encore was over. I did, however, manage to tape most of the show, and as I said was going to give a section of songs from both shows, but in pretty much every case the Winter Garden recordings are better (I think, they’re one of those bands that are better experienced inside, jumping up and down and getting sweaty…)

So here we go:


The Shrew

The Elephant Gun


Postcards from Italy


Scenic World

The Concubine

East Harlem

The Akara

A Sunday Smile

The Penalty

Mount Wroclai


Forks and Knives (La Fete)

Gulag Orkestar

And finally, I shot some video of Mount Wroclai:

Cool is a word that’s tossed around very casually these days…

But I love this.