woensdag 2 januari 2019

Wo.'s Top 10 live shows of 2018

2018 was quite the musical year. All in all I saw, not including unaccounted for encounters with musicians on streets or in parks and an amateur festival, 59 acts play live music in 2018 in locations ranging from a World War II air raid shelter to the Concertgebouw and from the Q-Bus in Leiden to the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam. Beautiful shows from just one man with a guitar to an orchestra playing David Bowie's 'Blackstar'. Trying to make a list proved nearly impossible this year. I kept striping off older shows in favour of more recent ones. Most likely because the impression was so much fresher. It may just not be overly representative this list, but the best I can do right now. With three honourable mentions, as they were the last to go: The Stream, Django Django and No Ninja Am I.

What is safe to say, is that the more intimate the show the more impressive it is. With one major exception, all shows were in smaller venues right up to my own home where four performances were staged in 2018. It does not get more intimate than that and so very, very special.

So let me conclude that these are the shows that I would like to have you focus on once again. Whether they really were the best? It's impossible to compare in the end, isn't it? It is the feeling that remains in me, some images and the memory of having heard the music. That last part is gone forever, unique for that single event.

10. Johan
Johan is back and perhaps better and tighter than ever. The show was simply impressive and the new songs held up very well against the old favourites. Hearing songs from the first album, including the Aphrodite's Child cover was a pleasant surprise. 1996 or 7 in the LVC in Leiden is indeed a long time ago. So long ago LVC is a restaurant called Moskou in 2019.


9. Out of Skin
The duo played an extremely intense, yet beautiful set in my own living room. Those present were very much impressed by the music played on an acoustic guitar and a harp.


8. Amber Arcades
Annelotte de Graaf made a giant step in her career. On record, my #4 of 2018,  and on stage. Self-confidence was present in abundance at the Sugar Factory in Amsterdam.


7. The Analogues
Into its third tour The Analogues tackled 'The Beatles' or "The White Album". Through the years I had come to appreciate the album more and more. This perfect show topped things off for me. And to think that 'Abbey Road' is up next (and Diederik Nomden's long awaited, second solo album!).


6. Broeder Dieleman
It was long ago that such a community feeling, intimate and serene had gripped me so tightly. It must have been singing in the catholic church at Christmas as a small child, all singing 'Gloria, In Excelcis Deo'. Broeder Dieleman made his audience sing along, to two darkish, serene songs and created instant beauty during an extremely intimate show.


5. Sophie Hunger
Sophie Hunger toured behind her new album 'Molecules', so different yet so Sophie Hunger. The electronics were given a large spot in her show, that neared perfection. The foursome sang together beautifully while playing the new and the old to perfection. Sophie Hunger is one of the most important new artists in Europe in 2018.


What a show! Having released its new album in October, the band was able to play the Q-Bus in Leiden. The kind of show too few people saw by a band that is so good. On record and on stage. When 'Tell Everyone' came by, the shivers went down my spine ... and back up. TMGS should be able to tour a lot more and get its name out in light.


3. Soup
Soup delivered one of the best albums of 2017 and toured The Netherlands in early spring. What an impressive show. The complex progrock of the band was played with the assistance of an extra guitarist who was able to play like a member of the band, solo's and all. Beautiful songs received beautiful renditions. Just wow.


2. Roger Waters
'Us & Them' the show was called and political from the first to the last second. Roger Waters did not spare anyone who annoyed him for many reasons. Not in the least the president of the United States of America. Musically Waters had gathered a great band that played songs from Pink Floyd and his latest solo album to great enjoyment of all the grey and bald headed middle aged men, mostly. Nostalgia?, yes, of course, but when served up in this shape, please send me some more.


Photo: Suzanne Liem
1. Maggie Brown
Yes, in my own living room again. Amsterdam based band Maggie Brown played a show of such intimacy that all present who were not a fan of the band, left as one. Spontaneous, intense, relaxed and attentive, the band seemed made for this session and this audience. With songs from both albums and a lead guitarist, who, sitting on the couch next to two middle aged ladies, played his first show, shuffling through his notes in front of him. The sheer magic of music visited our house once again.



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