Time for a round-up of my adventures in gig-going this year. 36 gigs to talk about, which is not quite back up to my pre-pandemic levels but it’s getting close. Here are a few of my thoughts along with the obligatory poor quality photos.
Gogo Penguin @ Yes, Manchester (19th January)
The first 3 gigs of the year were all at Yes in Manchester.
It’s a venue I love going to not just for the music but also for the food and in particularly the “Bad Girl” vegan kebab by Doner Summer. I’ve gone on about those kebabs to Mrs Garbanzo so much that whenever I’m going to Manchester now she jokes that I’m going to see “the other woman.”
Apparently this was Gogo Penguin‘s first gig in 2 years and it was the debut gig for the new drummer Jon Scott. Hard to fathom when you hear the 3 of them playing like that! Nick Blacka’s double bass defines the band’s sound and reminds me how much I used to love seeing Red Snapper in the 1990s but it’s Chris Illingworth’s piano playing that I couldn’t help being hypnotised by.
Squid / Minor Conflict @ Yes, Manchester (21st January)
Support act Minor Conflict have a singer playing a harp, I think that’s the first time I’ve seen that.
I was seeing headliners Squid for the 2nd time having previously seen them at EBGBs in Liverpool in October 2019. This gig was even better, both band and crowd were fantastic. You can get a sense of it in this video.
The Surfing Magazines / Granfalloon @ Yes Basement, Manchester (4th February)
I’ve seen Granfalloon before when they supported The Burning Hell at The Eagle in Salford in 2017, and further down this page I will be seeing them again supporting the same band. At both of those gigs, it was just one person (Richard) with his acoustic guitar but at this gig he had a really great band with him. Whether band or solo, you can’t help but be won over by Richard’s onstage charm, catchy songs and his Gorkys-like knack for finding lyrical inspiration in unusual places. Watch the “Bee On A String” video to see what I mean.
I saw The Surfing Magazines play a brilliant gig at Soup Kitchen in 2017 so I was looking forward to seeing them again and they did not disappoint! They opened the gig with a cover of Jonathan Richman’s instrumental hit “Egyptian Reggae.” Later we got covers of Neil Young & The Velvet Underground as well as most of the songs from their second, and in my opinion best, album “Badgers Of Wymeswold.” Like their sister band The Wave Pictures, those onstage are clearly having just as much fun as we are off it.
Even by my own low standards, this photo is a particularly rubbish one! Bassist Franic is hidden behind “Doctor” Charle Watson & the unfortunate speaker positioning gives the impression that David’s head is a big black rectangle.
Dana Gavanski / Naima Bock @ The Deaf Institute, Manchester (3rd March)
We only caught the last couple of songs from Naima Bock who was playing solo. Her voice was stunning and her album “Giant Palm” has become probably my favourite of the year.
I’d wanted to see Dana Gavanski at Manchester Psych Fest in 2021 but she clashed with some others so I was grateful for another chance to see “the Canadian Cate Le Bon.”
She played a lot of new songs, which have since been released on the excellent “When It Comes” album. She finished with a cover of Marianne Faithfull’s “Broken English” whose lyrics were particularly appropriate given Russia’s actions in Ukraine a few days earlier. She didn’t play her brilliant cover of one of my favourite David Bowie songs “Word On A Wing” but you can listen and buy it here.
McLusky* / Cowtown @ Gorilla, Manchester (4th April)
The first of several gigs this year where a support band I really like was added to the bill after I’d bought tickets. An unexpected piece of good luck!
I’m not sure who was scheduled to be supporting tonight but they had to pull out with Coronavirus so we got Cowtown instead. What a bonus!
In 2017, I caught the last song of Cowtown at Indietracks festival and I was impressed enough to go and see them the following year when they played Soup Kitchen with the equally fab Crumbs supporting.
Despite the bandname they are not from Texas, they are a 3-piece from Leeds and they were just as great as the previous time I saw them. They had some great-sounding new songs but also played “old” ones like Bugging Out, Castleman and Monotone Face.
Looks like the drummer missed the memo about the band dresscode for the night, stripy tops & big socks.
It’s the McLusky Do Dallas 20th anniversary tour so we get the whole of that fabulous album with a few songs from the 3rd album in the middle. You probably don’t need me to tell you how great it was to hear those songs played at very high volume in a roomful of bouncing nutjobs, most of whom seem far too young to have bought that album in 2002 but clearly know even more of the words than I do.
Mdou Moctar @ Yes, Manchester (12th April)
As it says in the Tweet below “What a band! What a gig!”
The short videoclip here really doesn’t do it justice, particularly drummer Souleymane Ibrahim who was just amazing!! Watch this recent live session for more.
Tindersticks @ The Forum, Bath (29th April)
Tindersticks @ Royal Festival Hall, London (1st May)
When Tindersticks announced the dates for their 30th anniversary tour, I was initially disappointed that there were only 2 gigs in the UK and none in the North where I live.
But then I noticed the 2 UK dates were in cities where my 2 oldest mates live so a few WhatsApp messages later, Simon Richard and me had arranged a spectacular looking Bank Holiday weekend!!
For the Bath gig on the Friday night, we had the best seats in the house right in the middle of the front row. Before the tour they’d promised a career-spanning set and that’s exactly what we got. Impossible to pick highlights because every song was just great.
The core bandmembers were joined by a string quartet and some additional special guests. These included Terry Edwards who quietly wandered onstage towards the end of “Sleepy Song” to perfectly replicate the incredible trumpet solo on the original and singer Gina Foster who sang backing vocals on several songs and duetted brilliantly with Stuart on “Travelling Light.”
London’s Royal Festival Hall is a considerably larger venue and before the gig you could sense a real buzz of excitement in the sold-out crowd. We were up in the balcony for this one but just like Friday, a life-affirming gig that will live long in the memory. A much larger string section here and Stuart’s vocals thankfully a bit higher in the mix and clearer compared to the Bath gig. Setlist almost identical but we got “City Sickness” in place of “The Other Side Of The World.” I adore both those songs but it was cool that we got “City Sickness” because that was the song that had made Simon into a Tindersticks fan when I’d put it on a mixtape I gave him in the mid-90s.
In a quiet moment between songs at Bath, an audience member had very politely called out a request for a relatively obscure song, originally released on the b-side of 1993 single Marbles: “Stuart, can you play For Those pleeeeeease!” The band clearly took note because we got that very song in the encore, introduced by Stuart saying how they hadn’t played it in 25 years!
My 14th and 15th time seeing Tindersticks and it really is difficult to convey how much I loved seeing this wonderful band and how great it was to be attending those gigs with 2 of my best friends.
Public Service Broadcasting / Worldcub @ Focus Wales festival, Wrexham (5th May)
Lots of great bands playing over the weekend but other commitments meant I was only able to go for one evening.
There’s live music going on all over the town (as it was then, it’s now a city!) and I saw snippets of quite a few bands. Local group Worldcub made a big impression on me and I’d strongly recommend their recent EP.
As much as I like the Public Service Broadcasting albums I own, I have to say I was not prepared for just how overwhelmingly awesome they are as a live band!! They really put on a show, the lights, the visuals, everything, just fantastic! Even some actual astronauts onstage for “Gagarin”
You might want to try their “Bright Magic” podcast series which tells the fascinating story behind the making of their most recent album.
The Lazy Eyes / The Flints @ The Deaf Institute, Manchester (17th May)
The Flints were really good but don’t seem to have any music out or any obtainable online presence. If you search online for a band called The Flints then you get a different band who aren’t nearly as good.
I loved the 2 EPs that Australian psychedelic funksters The Lazy Eyes released in 2021 and all 6 songs from those are present on their 2022 debut album “Songbook” along with another 6 belters. The gig was pretty much the album in full with long hair flying all over the place. Man, those kids can play!
Yard Act / Nuha Ruby Ra @ Zanzibar, Liverpool (19th May)
This gig was moved at the last minute from District to Zanzibar and upon arrival it took me a while to work out why it looked familiar. (I’d seen Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint do a “secret” gig here in 2007, it was called The New Picket then.)
Friend of the Trust The Wizards website Will from the Undilutable Slang Truth was at this one and it was good to catch up with him for the first time in a few years. Check out his gig review here.
Difficult to describe the kind of music Nuha Ruby Ra makes so it’s probably best you watch this YouTube clip. Half a song in I was thinking “this is going to be a long night” but once I got into it I really liked it. The closest comparison I could come up with at the time was Tricky and just like the Knowle West Boy, the music is somehow accessible whilst simultaneously being very, very unusual.
Last time I saw Yard Act was at Manchester Psych Fest last year where I predicted that they’d soon be headlining such festivals. With their debut reaching number 2 in the actual album charts, they are still on that trajectory and deservedly so.
In 2014, we called singer James “the epitome of the angry young man” when we reviewed his previous band Post War Glamour Girls but unlike most angry young men, he has a real talent for articulating that into poetry.
Dead Horse and Peanuts were my highlights tonight.
The venue was really packed for this one and my photos are exceptionally poor. Partly due the very tall yet exceptionally well-mannered young man, wearing a leather jacket with the Motorhead logo on the back, who stood directly in front of me but turned round several times to apologise for doing so.
The Wedding Present @ Arts Club, Liverpool (21st May)
Some dates of the tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of my favourite Wedding Present album “Seamonsters” went ahead as planned in late 2021 but most of the tour were postponed until this year.
I’d bought tickets for 3 gigs last year but a poorly timed positive Covid test meant I couldn’t go to the Manchester and Chester ones. My 10 day quarantine ended the day of the London gig so I went to that, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have done because I was still feeling pretty unwell. As with many previous Wedding Present gigs I went to that London gig with my old pals Richard, Mike and Simon. The 4 of us have been avid Wedding Present gig-goers since our teenage years.
I had read David Gedge saying that this tour was going to be the last time they would play “Seamonsters” in full so I decided that I was going to see this tour as many times as possible.
Unfortunately we were unaware that this Liverpool gig had an early start so we actually missed Side 1. The rest of the gig was great though and my 25th Wedding Present gig was also notable for being the first one Mrs Garbanzo has been to!
More (much more!) on this tour further down the page.
Altın Gün / Stealing Sheep @ The Ritz, Manchester (26th May)
Another “bonus” support band with Stealing Sheep being a very welcome late addition to the bill. Second gig in a row where a band was wearing matching boiler suits by the way. A lot going on visually as well musically. Great dance moves and unlike The Wedding Present their boiler suits were inflatable so they looked like dancing Stay Puft marshmellow people.
The rest of the evening was even better, filled as it was with dry ice and trippy psychedelic rock. Altın Gün, Satellites and Kit Sebastian, all putting out great albums of Turkish-influenced music recently.
The evening was slightly marred by a group of beery lads standing near us. Why pay good money to see a band if you only want to just talk loudly to your mates all night? That’s why we have pubs, you idiots. As with many of modern’s life irritations, The Humdrum Express have a song about this.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters @ The Philharmonic, Liverpool (10th June)
My 31st Elvis Costello gig was also my 6th time seeing him in Liverpool and my 3rd time at this venue.
This one would be put in the “Really great” file rather than the “Outstandingly great” one that several of those previous Liverpool appearances most definitely belong in.
The band were on top form and the “new boy” Charlie Sexton on lead guitar played a blinder. But there were technical issues early on with E.C’s vocals too quiet and at times inaudible in the first few songs.
Extract from the Liverpool Echo review…
“After a couple of songs, the audience were really frustrated, and a few people tried to shout out to Costello to tell him his microphone was too quiet. Clearly not understanding what was happening, Costello thought he was being heckled. Appearing insulted, he responded negatively to the crowd before playing on oblivious to the technical error... After a few more songs and shouts from audience members, someone from Costello’s team thankfully told him the crowd were shouting about the microphone issue. “That was the sound check, now it’s the gig”, joked Costello once the microphone had been fixed, but while the majority of the audience laughed and cheered, some fans got up from their seats and didn’t return.“
A key part of that is “Appearing insulted, he responded negatively to the crowd” which is a polite way of saying he was trying to introduce one of songs from the new album, assumed the people shouting out were just drunk hecklers and told them to “shut the fuck up.”
As it says in the Echo review, this was quite obviously a case of Elvis “clearly not understanding what was happening” but a small number of the audience wilfully and childishly took offence at this and walked out. I saw someone on Twitter describe the audience at this gig as “tetchy” which sums it up really. It took the bloke sat next to me about 20 minutes before he started moaning to his mate about Elvis not playing the hits during “Watching The Detectives” A song that was literally a hit, Elvis’ first in fact. Presumably this was his first ever experience of live music and he was unaware of the customary practice of musicians spreading their best-known songs throughout the evening, rather than blasting through them all at the very start to get them over with!
The entitled twat next to me left soon after and missed “Pump It Up”, “I Don’t Want To Go To Chelsea”, “I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down”, “Alison”, “Shipbuilding” and “Good Year For The Roses.” Pretty much every one of his hits was played in fact, with the exception of “Oliver’s Army” which he never plays these days. Elvis has explained his stance on that song with his customary eloquence and it strikes me that the only people bothered by its omission are the exact same numpties who complain every Christmas about radio stations playing the edited version of “Fairytale of New York.” Their version of free speech means having the right to be allowed to hear an outdated homophobic term in our favourite Christmas song or something.
Anyway, back to the gig itself and my highlights from it. Of the hits mentioned above, “I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down” is the one I’d still have him play at every gig and it was as great as ever. I was a bit disappointed he didn’t play either of my favourite songs from “The Boy Named If,” namely “The Man You Love To Hate” and “My Most Beautiful Mistake.” But they did plenty of others from the new album with “I Can Give You Anything But Love” and “The Difference” being my favourites. I have a list of favourite Elvis songs that I’ve never heard live and I was thrilled to hear “The Comedians” for the first time, played here in the same arrangement as Roy Orbison’s amazing version. Elvis’ voice, which at times shows signs of not being quite what it once was, was breathtakingly good on this and also on other slower songs “Either Side Of The Same Town” and the aforementioned “Good Year For The Roses.”
The Waterboys / Gruff Rhys @ Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival (17th June)
The last time I went to this festival was 2009 and Ade Edmondson was headlining with his band The Bad Shepherds. These days it’s a much bigger festival with a big outdoor stage.
Another bonus support act here with late addition to the bill Gruff Rhys which I was delighted about. I’d not been able to go to his Manchester gig in 2021 so this was my first time seeing him promoting the fantastic “Seeking New Gods” album. It was great to finally hear some of those songs live, as well as one of my all-time favourites “Lonesome Words”
The 2 Waterboys gigs I saw in the 1980s remain right up there with the best I’ve ever been to but checking my records I was very surprised to find out I’ve not seen them since! (I have seen Mike Scott quite a few times in those intervening years though)
They’ve had about a thousand line-up changes since then but it’s still Mike leading an incredible band through a really incredible gig! As the song says, he’s still a freak! Great atmosphere at this with the kind of lively and enthusiastic crowd you don’t always get at these boutique festival events.
Amazing evening and just 9 miles from my front door!!
Keyboard wizard Brother Paul is an amazing musician and brings a lot to the party with his magnificently infectious onstage personality. Photo below courtesy of Mrs Garbanzo.
Crowded House @ Castlefield Bowl, Manchester (30th June)
It’s been a long time coming but after several postponements, Crowded House finally got to play the tour that was originally planned for 2020.
First visit to this venue and I noticed that this bowl is a very flat-bottomed one. If you’re near the back and a bit of a shortarse like me, the sightlines are pretty crap. Never mind, get here earlier next time.
Whether playing as Crowded House, The Finn Brothers or under his own name, Neil Finn always puts on a brilliant show. As well as the outstanding musicianship always on show, he and kilt-wearing bassist Nick Seymour are a very witty pair. At this gig they had a lot of fun talking about the trains going past and just generally taking the mick out of each other. They opened with 2 of my absolute favourites “Distant Sun” and “Nails In My Feet” and from then on it was pretty much the greatest hits from the 80s/90s plus a few songs from the recent “Dreamers Are Waiting” LP.
Local legend Johnny Marr made his customary cameo appearance, as he always does when Neil Finn’s in town and got the wild reception he deserves. Just like last time Crowded House played in Manchester in May 2010, they did a really great David Bowie cover. It was “Heroes” at this gig, “Moonage Daydream” at the previous one. They closed the night with another of my favourites “Better Be Home Soon” one of several they played that brought a tear to my eye.
Adam Ant @ The Philharmonic, Liverpool (4th July)
I saw Adam at this same venue in 2016, full review here.
An extra-special treat was going to the gig with my old pal Mark. We used to work together behind the counter at The HMV Shop in Guildford and we hadn’t seen each other since 1992!! Reunited through the power of social media.
In contrast to the tetchy Elvis Costello audience last time I’d been at this venue, the Antpeople were wildly enthusiastic and on their feet from the very first drumbeat to the last. Seeing Adam & The Ants playing “Dog Eat Dog” on Top of the Pops at the age of 10 was a life-changing moment for me and I will forever be of the opinion that “Kings of the Wild Frontier” is one of the greatest albums ever made. The title track was one of the highlights of this gig and it was also great to hear “Digital Tenderness” and “Cartrouble,” 2 of my favourite songs from the first Ants album.
Antpeople are the warriors! Antmusic is our banner!
Pixies / Slow Readers Club @ Castlefield Bowl, Manchester (5th July)
Back here again a few days after Crowded House and this time we arrived early so we could get a decent spot close to the great Joey Santiago. Slow Readers Club were pretty decent, the frontman has a great voice.
Some Pixies dates have been advertised as “Come On Pilgrim It’s The Surfer Rosa” tour and I’d have been very happy to have heard all of those 2 in full (with “Vamos” played twice!) followed by “Doolittle” for the encore perhaps.
That’s not quite what we got but if you’re interested I’ve got statistics on what they did play.
5 out of 8 “Come On Pilgrim” songs (62.5%)
8 out of 13 “Surfer Rosa” songs (61.5%) (no “River Euphrates” though 😢)
9 out of 15 “Doolittle” songs (60%) (no “Dead” though 😢)
2 out of 14 “Bossanova” songs (14.2%)
3 out of 15 “Trompe Le Monde” songs (20%)
Might make a bar chart of that later.
Great to be at this gig with Richard who was also with me when we first saw Pixies in 1989. This was our first time seeing them without Kim and of course we’d always opt for the former when offered “Deal Or No Deal.” But even with 25% of the original lineup absent, the songs are still some of the best ever made and they still play them with the same intensity.
Highlights for me were “Brick Is Red” “Gouge Away” “The Holiday Song” and “Cactus.”
Simply Dylan @ The Bowdon Rooms, Altrincham (7th July)
I saw Simply Dylan play “Desolation Row” at the Bob Dylan: Electric 50 event in 2016 and I’ve been meaning to see a whole gig of theirs ever since. Here’s what I wrote about them in my review back then:
They bill themselves as “a tribute to Bob Dylan, not a Bob Dylan tribute” and that’s spot on. There’s no attempt to look or dress like Dylan or imitate his voice. Why would anyone do that when even Dylan hasn’t sounded like Dylan for decades? Instead you get John’s excellent and powerful voice, enunciating the words clearly backed up by a brilliant bassist and violinist. Having seen a mixed bag of gigs from the man himself ranging from inspired to forgettable, you could quite easily make the case that John and his band do a far better job of honouring the richest back catalogue in popular music history.
My first time at The Bowdon Rooms and I was impressed that you could order drinks using your phone and have them brought to your table! Very fancy! It was a full band show rather than the trio I saw before and all of them were fantastic musicians. The setlist was great too, not just a run-through of the obvious best-known songs and I particularly enjoyed hearing “Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power)” “Dark Eyes” and “Mama You Been On My Mind,” performed very much in the style heard on my favourite Dylan live album.
The Strokes / Fontaines D.C. / Wet Leg @ Lytham Festival (8th July)
First gig of 2022 for Garbanzo Junior The Elder who is OBSESSED with The Strokes and had just about the greatest time of his life at this! Great gig all round actually, all 3 bands played a blinder.
Traffic problems meant we missed the start of Wet Leg but as illustrated by the really strong debut album, there’s a lot more to them than just “Chaise Longue.”
Last time I saw Fontaines D.C. was May 2018 at Night & Day Cafe in Manchester when they’d only had a couple of singles out. Frontman Grian seemed quite awkward and nervous back then. His stage persona has developed into something very different and when I say there’s now a hint of Liam Gallagher in his confidence and ability to gee up a crowd I mean that as praise. No surprise that they’re playing to bigger crowds these days because as much as “Boys In The Better Land” was very popular with the Lytham crowd, I think they’ve made a lot of far better records since. “A Hero’s Death” “Lucid Dream” and “I Don’t Belong” from the 2nd album for example, all of which were just brilliant.
Garbanzo Junior The Elder had been studying The Strokes setlists on the tour dates leading up to this. No idea where he gets that kind of obsessive trainspotter behaviour from. Probably his mum.
He told me that they would absolutely categorically open with “Bad Decisions” and it was great to see his reaction when they started playing “Is This It?” instead. They played all the songs you’d expect really. “Reptilia” “You Only Live Once” “Automatic Stop” were amongst the highlights. There was a very funny bit where a lady in the crowd requested “Ode To The Mets” so they got her up on the stage only for Julian to walk off and leave her singing it by herself!
As we were slowly shuffling our way out at the end, we heard a few people around us making comments about how they didn’t play “Last Nite.” Junior somewhat sneeringly muttered to me something along the lines of “Pah, don’t these idiots know anything? They hardly ever play that song.” Once again I have no idea where he gets this kind of thing from. Probably his mother.
Happy to report that having enjoyed his first big outdoor gig so much, he’s keen for more of the same and we’ve already booked tickets for a few gigs in 2023, notably The Boss at Villa Park!
The Wedding Present @ The Devil’s Arse, Castleton (20th August)
The Wedding Present / Murder Club @ The Met, Bury (25th August)
Wedding Present gig numbers 26 and 27. Both gigs were “Seamonsters” played in full, followed by a mix of songs from their whole career.
My mate Rich didn’t need much persuading for Castleton. Fancy a weekend walking in the Peak District and going to a Wedding Present gig in a cave? What’s not to like about that? The weather was great and the walks up Shining Tor and Mam Tor were spectacular.
Both gigs were just brilliant, impossible to pick a favourite.
An extra special treat to hear “Mars Sparkles Down On Me” at Castleton too, it’s one of their slower songs and they don’t play it live very much. They played a great cover of Low’s song “Canada” that they’d learnt specially to play the next day when they’d been drafted in as a late replacement for that band at the Green Man Festival. So sad to hear then about Mimi’s illness and subsequent passing.
Margo Cilker / Maddie Morris @ The Castle Hotel, Manchester (30th August)
Missed the start of Maddie Morris but as I walked in she was singing about how the advertising industry cynically uses the LGBTQ+ community to create a pretence that they care about actual people. I was right on board with that and I wish I could tell you the name of the song but I don’t know it. (Maddie’s made one album so far, it’s not on that)
Elsewhere Maddie sings of being a survivor of abuse and it’s truly powerful stuff. It’s just one acoustic guitar, one really, really stunning voice and a whole lot of emotional heft. It’s hardcore folk and I liked it very much but it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
Margo Cilker’s music is far more on the country side of folk. Her voice is a bit Emmylou and you can’t get better than that. Most of the set was taken from 2021 debut album “Pohorylle” but she also played a couple of covers, Dylan’s “She Belongs To Me” and “Navajo Rug” by Ian Tyson (who sadly died today as I was writing this article.) Her backing band were great, especially the Telecaster guy and she told some good stories about her life back home in Oregon where she’s married to an actual cowboy. Yee-ha!
Manchester Psych Fest @ Various venues, Manchester (3rd September)
My 3rd time at this festival which happens on the first Saturday of September, always on or around my birthday and at my age, it’s only right that I get way more excited for Psych Fest than for my birthday!
I saw 10 bands in full (Keg, Tinariwen, Maruja, Jane Weaver, The Bug Club, Battles, Gruff Rhys, Japanese Television, Highschool, Warmduscher)
There were 7 others who I saw some but not all of (Dream Wife, Splint, Loose Articles, Tess Parks, Soup!, The Lucid Dream, Scalping)
A great, if exhausting, day!
A bonus was running into Gruff Rhys for a bit of a chat and a photo on Whitworth Street between bands.
The Handsome Family / Daniel Knox @ St Mary’s Creative Space, Chester (12th September)
After several postponements, it was great to finally see one of my favourite bands back on this side of the pond again after 5 years! This Chester gig was Rennie and Brett first one back after having to cancel a couple of shows through illness. Both of them were clearly still struggling with their singing but a supportive crowd got them through the gig. Exciting to hear some new songs, hopefully a new album in the pipeline? Other personal favourites they played included 24 Hour Store, The Loneliness Of Magnets, The Giant Of Illinois, Octopus, My Sister’s Tiny Hands and The Bottomless Hole. Rennie is just a genius lyricist!!
I’d never heard of the support act Daniel Knox until tonight but his ramschackle onstage persona and his amazing piano-based songs really got my attention. Charmed by his slightly unhinged Randy Newman stylings, I bought his album Chasescene at the gig and it’s really, really good.
Just Mustard / White Flowers / Dog Sport @ Jimmys, Liverpool (20th September)
A triple bill of noisy dreampop with local band Dog Sport kicking things off, followed by White Flowers who played in almost complete darkness but sounded great. Give them a listen if, like me, you’re a Cocteau Twins fan. I’ve been wanting to see headliners Just Mustard ever since I heard their 2019 single Frank. Since then they’ve released 2 very good albums and this gig was worth the wait.
The Wedding Present / Murder Club @ The Leadmill, Sheffield (23rd October)
The penultimate gig of the “Seamonsters” 30th anniversary tour was also my 5th and final time seeing them on that tour. I went to this one with my old pal Simon who went to university in this fair city. We used to travel up to visit him for gigs and football matches and The Leadmill was frequently on our itinerary back then. Simon was the first of our friendship group to see The Wedding Present live in 1987 at this very same venue and over their career The Wedding Present have played this venue more than any other. We saw them play a storming gig here in 2018 on the “Tommy” 30th anniversary tour and just like that gig, there was a proper moshpit at this one. A load of sweaty gits bouncing into each other, pretending they’re not in their 50s and having a fucking great time doing so. It was an honour and a privilege to be amongst them!
Here’s a bit of the ending of “Lovenest” one of my favourites on an album where every song is one of my favourites!
Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip @ The Salty Dog, Northwich (9th October)
I tested positive for Covid a couple of days after the Sheffield gig and the subequent isolation meant I didn’t get to gigs I had tickets for: Gwenno, Opus Kink and a John MOuse / Peaness double bill. 😞
My next live music fix was Leeds legend Mik Artistik and you can read my review of that one here.
The Burning Hell / Mathias Kom & Toby Goodshank / Granfalloon @ The Deaf Institute, Manchester (17th October)
My 6th time seeing The Burning Hell and the 2nd time seeing them at this venue. Support from Granfalloon (see Surfing Magazines above) and another inspired Mathias side project playing the songs of Roger Miller (no, not that one!) in partnership with Toby Goodshank. Previously I only knew “King Of The Road” but I learnt at the gig (and from the accompanying album I bought afterwards) that Miller was quite the eccentric songwriter!
Great to hear The Burning Hell play lots of songs from new album “Garbage Island” and in keeping with that album’s ornithogical theme they finished with a cover of “Rockin’ Robin” complete with bird whistling noises.
Delighted to see that they’ve already announced 2023 gigs over here. Already got my ticket for the Liverpool gig. I’ve also noticed they’re playing somewhere called Marple which I’d previously never heard of but have just discovered is only 40 minutes from my home!
Pavement / The Lovely Eggs @ Apollo, Manchester (20th October)
Another “bonus” support band with The Lovely Eggs added to the bill many months after I’d bought the tickets.
They were as fab as ever. As a particular fan of their shorter, dafter songs it was great to hear an old favourite of mine “Slug Graveyard.” The Eggs anthem “Fuck It,” complete with scarf-waving, is always great but the biggest cheer of the night came during list song “You Can Go Now” when Holly adlibbed “Tory shitshow you can go now!”
I didn’t see Pavement when they reformed in 2010 so this gig was 25 years since the last time I’d seen them and 30 years since the first!
When a band has as many great songs as Pavement have, there will be inevitable setlist gripes from pedantic ingrates like me. I would’ve loved to have heard “Elevate Me Later” “Stop Breathin” “Embassy Row” “Transport Is Arranged.” My mate Huw who saw them in London a few days later says they did play quite a few of those! I was basically after more from my favourite albums Crooked Rain / Slanted / Brighten, although I will concede that any hope of them playing early b-side “Greenlander” was always a hell of a long shot.
But enough of my moaning, we still got many other old classics. “Summer Babe” got people moving early on and others I particularly were “Unfair” “Gold Soundz” “Two States” “Cut Your Hair” and the faultless “Here.”
Cud @ The Garage, London (5th November 2022)
This looked like the setup for an ideal Saturday with a QPR home match coinciding, my mate Daniel over from Amsterdam for a brief visit and a London gig for us to go to within stumbling distance of Simon’s house.
I’d rather not discuss how the QPR match went and that might have been a contributory factor in this being comfortably the most drunk I’ve been at any gig this year! But in contrast to the Superhoops, Cud’s performance was thankfully no such letdown, still looking a bit odd yet sounding bloody marvellous. Same as it ever was.
The Wedding Present @ Louder Than Words festival, Innside Hotel, Manchester (11th November)
Curated by Dr Jill Adam & John Robb, Manchester is lucky to have this festival celebrating music and literature. Over a weekend, a whole load of musicians and music writers convene to sell and be interviewed about their books.
First I attended a fascinating Q&A with Helen O’Hara from Dexys and bought her book “What’s She Like.” “Come On Eileen” and “Let’s Get This Straight (From The Start)” were 2 of the first singles I ever bought and both the Dexys albums she played on are very dear to my heart so it was a thrill to hear Helen talk about those and have a chat to her afterwards. But standing next to her exactly as stylishly dressed as you’d expect her to be, I did feel very underdressed in my t-shirt, jeans & trainers! I asked her how Kevin was doing after his motorbike accident and I was pleased to hear that there’s new Dexys music in the pipeline.
Back in 2020, I had a ticket for this festival when it hosted the book launch of comic book biography “Tales From The Wedding Present Volume 1.” That ended up being an online only event with Steve Lamacq interviewing David Gedge.
This time it was John Robb asking the questions, followed by 9 acoustic songs from a stripped down version of the band (David Gedge, regular bassist Melanie Howard and former bassist and co-author of the books Terry De Castro)
During the interview David acknowledged that he wasn’t really a fan of acoustic gigs and whilst I enjoyed this gig and the 2 recent “Locked Down & Stripped Back” albums more than I thought I would, I have to say I agree with him. I wouldn’t necessarily go to see them if they did another tour playing in this style because there is no substitute for the wild assault of bass, drums and distorted electric guitars provided by the proper full-band Wedding Present (See evidence above in videoclips from Bury and Sheffield)
Both books are brilliant though and a godsend to Wedding Present nerds like me. The comicbook format makes them incredibly readable and a few weeks ago, I read the whole of Volume 2 in a single afternoon!
The Mountain Goats / Carson McHone @ Albert Hall, Manchester (17th November)
Support act Carson McHone‘s voice reminded me very much of Gillian Welch which is an indisputably good thing. She played a little bit of harmonica but other than that it was just guitar and voice. The songs were good played solo but the recorded versions are even better. Have a listen to “Someone Else” which is my favourite song from here recent album “Still Life.”
At the start of a road trip holiday with Mrs Garbanzo in 2005, I got talking to a Tower Records employee in the San Francisco store who told me I should buy the new CD by his favourite band. They were called The Mountain Goats and noticing it was on 4AD, I was happy to give up my dollars. That CD “The Sunset Tree” was on heavy rotation for the next couple of weeks as we drove around various western states.
I’ve been meaning to see them live ever since but for whatever reason, it took me 17 years.
I’m not sure what I was expecting from this gig but I was most definitely not prepared for what happened. Man, this band have some passionate fans! The emotional outpouring of love from audience to stage was like very few gigs I’ve seen this year or any other. The singing along in songs like “Up The Wolves” “No Children” and “This Year” was like a football crowd.
Having grown his hair recently, John Darnielle looks like a cross between a young Stephen King and The Dude / Lebowski. In some ways it’s pretty odd how this band led by this man have ended up with such a young and diverse fanbase because he “seems like the last sort of person and band you’d expect to gain a large LGBTQ+ following.” But as this article explains so brilliantly, it’s all about the lyrics.
Great band, great atmosphere, great songs! Personal highlights were “Jenny” “Dark In Here” “The Mess Inside” “Soft Targets” (for the sax playing) and the aforementioned “Up The Wolves.” I will definitely not be waiting another 17 years for more of this!
Ezra Furman / The Golden Dregs @ The Ritz, Manchester (21st November)
And talking of outpourings of love between audience and artist, here comes Ezra on the last night of her tour. Another cracking gig, just like the one I reviewed at this same venue in 2016.
Her recent album “All Of Us Flames” concludes a trilogy (kind of) and is probably my favourite of those 3 albums. 17 of tonight’s 20 songs come from those 3 albums with “Dressed In Black” “Maraschino Red Dress” “Point Me Towards The Real” and opening song “Train Comes Through” shining especially brightly.
But following the tragic mass murder at LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado just a couple of days earlier, the most powerful part of the night was Ezra’s characteristically heartfelt speech leading into the final song, a defiant and impassioned cover of Patti Smith / Bruce Springsteen’s “Because The Night.”
Stereolab / Nina Savary @ New Century Hall, Manchester (27th November)
Back in the 60s this building hosted gigs by Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones. My only previous visit was for a massive beer festival but now it’s got hipster food stalls downstairs and the place is hosting gigs again. Good news because it’s a beautiful venue.
With hypnotic vocals, swirling organs and songs sung in both French and English, you can hear why Stereolab have chosen Nina Savary to support them. She has sung on Laetitia Sadier’s solo albums and Laetitia has returned the favour by playing keyboards on Nina’s most recent album “Next Level Soap Opera.”
With Stereolab having a far larger back catalogue than Pavement discussed above, I have inevitable setlist gripes but I’ll spare you them because it was a really fantastic gig. Plenty of noisy ones, plenty of trippy ones, plenty of 5/4 time signature songs. Someone on Twitter called Peter Finegan described them as “glorious shimmering architects of joyous soundscapes” and I can’t better that for a summary.
The Wave Pictures / Lo Barnes @ The Lexington, London (21st December)
I was gutted to miss The Wave Pictures‘ Manchester gig in May and their Huddersfield gig in October due to other commitments. So it was a very happy Chorizo who noticed that the day we’d arranged to be visiting family in London before Christmas at the coincided with The Wave Pictures playing in the very same postcode. Seren-fucking-dipity!
Following a pre-gig stop off at Tofu on Upper Street for some delicious vegan Chinese food, I met my old pal Jimmy in the pub downstairs and we just had time to raise a toast to the late, great Terry Hall before heading upstairs. Never been here before, what a great little venue this is, massive mirrorball and a raised bar area at the back where shortarses like Jimmy & me can get a good view.
Support act Lo Barnes was great. Twangy torch songs with brushed drums, a cocktail mixed with ingredients borrowed from the nearby borough of Camden, Amy Winehouse & Gallon Drunk. Someone needs to get this girl’s music on the next David Lynch soundtrack.
The headliners kicked off with guaranteed crowd-pleaser “Strange Fruit For David.” We all sang along with that bit about the sculptures and marmalade and David played the first of many fucking amazing guitar solos. Not many bands enjoy themselves onstage as much as these boys seem to but tonight the drinks were flowing even more than usual. David in particular seemed to be in a particularly jocular mood. At one point he proclaimed Franic as “the best bass player in the business” and The Wave Pictures as “the greatest band on the planet.”
Whenever Johnny comes up to the front to sing, you know you’re in for a treat because the next song is going to be either “Sleepy Eye” or “Now You Are Pregnant.” Tonight we got the latter, one of David’s best ever lyrics, sung beautifully as always and following the Elvis / Johnny payoff line, Franic and David extended the song with an incredibly good improvised instrumental section. Greatest band on the planet? They might just be right!
They played some of the best songs from the new double album, including “Douglas,” “French Cricket” and the Dr Feelgood-esque “Back In The City” which prompted Jimmy and I into drinking a toast to another recently departed hero, dear old Wilko Johnson. (The Wave Pictures did their own tribute to him in 2017 with their “Canvey Island Baby” EP)
The drummer from The Surfing Magazines joined them on vocals for the final number, a cover of Neil Young’s “Roll Another Number.” But a few songs earlier they’d played an even better cover, when they’d blasted through The 13th Floor Elevators’ garage classic “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” Check out this video of them playing that song in Zaragoza last month.
- Huge thanks to all the bands, promoters and venues who make these gigs possible.
- And more huge thanks ❤️❤️❤️ to my various friends and family who’ve been to gigs with me in 2022: Mrs Garbanzo, Garbanzo Junior The Elder, Rich B, Rich F, Simon, Will, Ben, Andy, Ellie, Tom, Mark, Garbanzo Senior a.k.a. my dad, Tony, Paul, Alex, James, Daniel, Nick and Jimmy. Mike, we missed you this year!
Previous end of year podcasts:
- Podcast 123: Chorizo’s favourite songs 2022
- Podcast 122: Kicker’s favourite songs 2022
- Podcast 120: Chorizo’s favourite songs 2021
- Podcast 119: Kicker’s favourite songs 2021
- Podcast 108: Chorizo’s favourite songs 2020
- Podcast 107: Kicker’s favourite songs 2020
- Podcast 90: Chorizo’s favourite songs 2019
- Podcast 89: Kicker’s favourite songs 2019
- Podcast 86: Chorizo’s favourite songs 2018
- Podcast 85: Kicker’s favourite songs 2018
- Podcast 83: Chorizo’s favourite songs 2017
- Podcast 82: Kicker’s favourite songs 2017
- Podcast 69: Chorizo’s favourite songs 2016
- Podcast 68: Kicker’s favourite songs 2016
- Podcast 70: Rebel’s favourite songs 2016
- Podcast 53: Chorizo’s favourite songs 2015
- Podcast 52: Kicker’s favourite songs 2015
- Podcast 54: Rebel’s favourite songs 2015
- Podcast 32: Chorizo’s favourite songs 2014
- Podcast 31: Kicker’s favourite songs 2014
- Podcast 33: Rebel’s favourite songs 2012
- Podcast 18: Chorizo’s favourite songs 2013
- Podcast 17: Kicker’s favourite songs 2013
- Podcast 19: Rebel’s favourite songs 2013
- Podcast 3: Chorizo’s favourite songs 2012
- Podcast 2: Kicker’s favourite songs 2012
- Podcast 4: Rebel’s favourite songs 2012
- Chorizo’s favourite things of 2022: Part 1 The Gigs
- Chorizo’s favourite things of 2022: Part 1 Music Books Films etc
- Kicker’s favourite things of 2022
- Kicker’s favourite things of 2021
- Chorizo’s favourite things of 2020
- Kicker’s favourite things of 2020
- Chorizo’s favourite things of 2019: Part 1 The Gigs
- Chorizo’s favourite things of 2019: Part 1 Music Books Films etc
- Kicker of Elves favourite things of 2019
- Chorizo’s favourite things of 2018
- Kicker’s favourite things of 2018
- Chorizo’s favourite things of 2017
- Kicker’s favourite things of 2017
- Kicker’s favourite things of 2016
- Kicker’s favourite things of 2015
- Chorizo’s favourite things of 2014
- Kicker’s favourite things of 2014
- Chorizo’s favourite things of 2013
- Kicker’s favourite things of 2013