My live music wrapup 2014, part 2

Here we go with Part Duex. I listed eight shows on the last post, and another 12 here. I’m sure there were a bunch of others (I’m leaving out a Black Star gig where Mos Def and Talib Kweli didn’t show up until 11.30pm, at which point my buddy had to leave), but those are all the stubs I found, or concerts I remembered off the top of my head from the past 12 months, starting with:

Lindi Ortega (The Garage – Paid face £12), Jan 30

Lively, crimson-wearing Canadian Latina playing Nashville music (confusing, I know). Terrific Show. Set the stage nicely for the next night’s gig which was….

Taylor Swift (O2 Arena – Face value ? Paid £96.20 with fees through Viagogo) Feb 1

Would you believe me if I told you this was one of the most impressive live performances I’ve ever seen? The show was an extravaganza. Dozens of dancers, some on stilts, she was on a trapeze-like contraption for while… Swift can sing, she writes her own songs, she can play multiple instruments, she can dance (ok, maybe not her best skill), and she has awesome stage presence. Why all the haters? The abuse I got for seeing her was surprising.

I’ve also never seen such a powerful dynamic from an audience (90% of whom wer under 16, but hey). Ed Sheeran came on to do a couple of duets, that was very cool. Which inspired me to get tix for…

Ed Sheeran (Royal Albert Hall, paid face £50  ) March 4

This was a charity gig for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Sheeran was introduced by Roger Daltrey and Noel Gallagher as ‘a top lad’ who doesn’t back out of commitments, though he’s one of the most sought-after entertainers in the world right now. He’s effectively a one-man band, and to be metaphorically naked on stage with 20,000 eyeballs staring at you is no easy task. Sheeran basked in it, using effects pedals when necessary, sometimes rapping (he does an outstanding cover of Lil’ Kim’s ‘Lighters Up’), and getting the crowd to either stay quiet or sing along when required.

Highlight was his mate Passenger coming up to duet. Two hipsters with tiny guitars harmonizing at the Albert Hall, check it out:

Red Hot Chili Peppers (Coliseo de Puerto Rico – Face $187.25, paid $183.30), April 6

Look how much the tickets were priced at. Factor in that I flew from London to Puerto Rico (via Miami) to watch these 50-something rockers (ex-new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who is 35). They played for just 1.45mins – no encores. LAME.

I wish I got into them when Fruciante was still in the band. They still have great energy, but … something’s missing.

Jason Isbell, Holly Williams (The Roxy, West Hollywood, CA Face ? Paid avg $57.58 via Stubhub with fees) April 28

One of the best gigs of the year. Opener Holly Williams (daughter of Hank) is a masterful songwriter, specifically on her album The Highway.  She had her husband on guitar, and none other than Gwenyth Paltrow accompanying her on backing vocals (video below).

As main act Jason Isbell said when he came on stage, “Shit, you don’t get those kinds of cameos in Birmingham, Alabama.” It was also my first time at The Roxy, a legendary Sunset Strip venue. I hit the Rainbow Room after… sadly, Lemmy was not in the house.

John Fullbright (Islington Assembly Hall – Paid Face, £16), June 5

Great rising star in the Americana seen. But I like his guitar work more than his keyboard stuff (he played a set on each). The Mrs was desperate to leave about 40 mins before it was over.

John Mayer (O2 Arena – invited into corporate box), June 9

I normally wouldn’t be rushing to watch John Mayer – a man known more for his personal promiscuity than his guitar prowess — but this turned out be a a very solid gig. Listening to him on a stereo, his tracks are a bit sleepy for my taste; but they come alive when you hear and see him on stage. He’s one of the few guitar innovators around today, and has a silky voice to go along with his blues licks. Highlights were his opener, ‘Queen of California’ and a cover of Van Morrison’s ‘And It Stoned Me’.

The Eagles (Phones 4U Arena, Manchester – Face £137 (WTF??) – Paid £100) June 25

I took the train up from London to see this gig, so it was a pretty expensive night. Worth it? Eh…. I may as well have watched the inevitable DVD special to come soon. Seats were close but on the side of the stage so i found myself watching the giant screen to my right most of the time. Still, they did perform for 3.5 hours (including break). And played every single notable song from their catalogue.

And… Joe Fucking Walsh. Hey, that alone was worth it.

Maverick Festival [Holly Williams, Mary Gauthier, among others] (Easton Farm Park – paid face, can’t remember how much), July 6

Two months later, and I get to see Holly Williams again. Driving about 2.5 hours outside of London to get to a really charming festival in the middle of the English woods was worth it. Maverick is a three-day festival of Americana and Roots music. Lots of people were walking around in Western shirts,  cowboy hats and boots. People brought their kids and dogs and most of the venues were open-air. I’ll try to go back again next year and see more than just the last 3 hours.

Holly was about 7 months pregnant by then, but her voice shined. Her husband, now on tour with The Kings Of Leon, was replaced by a local who did very well. Mary Gauthier is making a big name for herself as a songwriter, with some of her tunes making it on to the hit series ‘Nashville’ (one was sung by Avery Barkley).

Pearl Jam (Milton Keynes Bowl – Face £65, paid £30), July 11

Probably my favorite show of the year. On a whim, me and the Mrs took the train from London with no tix in hand. A full two hours (and a lot of walking) later we finally got to the right entrance at the Milton Keynes Bowl where I knocked a scalper down to below half of face value. We walked in to the sound of Eddie Belting out “Nothingman” (one of a remarkable 35-song setlist).

The venue was perfect for the tee-shirt weather that night (basically a circular green patch with hills to act as layered seats on the boarders); they played the heavy stuff, the acousticy stuff, and everything in between. And this was the historic show where Eddie Vedder lashed out about what was going on Gaza.

It could have been better though, because they (inexplicably) didn’t end with Yellow Ledbetter. Instead, they played ‘Rocking in the Free World’, which was stupid cos guess who was playing in Hyde Park the very next day…?

Neil Young and Crazy Horse (Hyde Park – Paid face £89.50), July 12

Disappointing, and on my birthday too. Way too many lengthy stoned-out jams with Crazy Horse (three ancient dudes who have done way too much acid).  Highlight was Neil chucking them off the stage to do his acoustic stuff, including a Dylan cover.

The positioning of the stage in Hyde Park since 2013 sucks too. They’ve put it on the Park Lane end, which makes no sense, and zoned out areas for ‘VIP’ views; I got suckered into buying those ticks and was still a mile from the stage. Massive ripoff.

Bob Log III (The Lexington – Paid Face £12.50) Dec 11

Last night’s gig. It was like being a contestant in survivor. I took three friends, and two left by the halfway mark.

Log is one of a kind, although he’s an acquired taste. He sings (through a crash helmet with an old telephone rigged through the visor as a mike), he plays drums with both feet, and he rocks the meanest slide guitar this side of Tuscaloosa. But it’s difficult for some to bear for a full 90 minutes (impossible sober), as evidenced by a 40% clearout of the room before the encores. Sadly, the inflatable rafts he brought to crowdsurf while riffing went unused…probably because there wasn’t enough of a crowd left to lift him up.

That’s it for 2014.

More to come in 2015, no doubt (along with my Greatest Gigs of All Time list)… Happy Holidays everyone!

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About The Frugal Fan
Lifelong sports fan, and semi-pro blogging hack. If you enjoy what you read (or even if you don't) gimme a shout: motez56 (at) gmail

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