My live music wrap-up 2015

Well hello all. I know I’ve gone silent in the second half of 2015. I got busy, what can I say? But I’m back with the second annual Bishara live music wrap-up.

Last year I attended a good 20 gigs, and 2015 was no different (boosted by a music-themed Nashville to LA road trip in October). So without further ado, here they are in chronological order:

Ryan Adams (Hammersmith Apollo, paid £25, face value was  £36), Feb 27.

Mr. Adams is probably my favorite rocker on the planet at the moment. He’s a gifted songwriter with a sweet voice and a style that ranges from hard riffs, to country crooning to cover songs (see his brilliant end-to-end cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album).

This performance was marred by a lot of chatter at the back of the theater (which Adams derisively commented on a number of times), but no matter. We just moved up to the front and heard terrific ballads like this one below. I’d see Adams anytime anywhere.


Passenger (Union Chapel – paid 49 pounds, face ? but it was a lot less), April 20.

A poor man’s Ed Sheeran, which is no small feat. In fact Passenger (aka Mike Rosenberg) opened up for Sheeran at Wembley last summer (the show that got away from me).

Passenger is a gifted finger picker and accomplished songwriter, chiefly for ‘Let Her Go’, a clip from which you can watch below. Union Chapel is also a personal favorite venue. Short gig but a winner.

#lethergo #passenger #solo #acoustic #unionchappel

A video posted by MB (@motez56) on


Eric Clapton (Royal Albert Hall – paid £50 vs £100 face value), May 18.

Clapton at Albert Hall. Need I say any more? BB King had died that week and so Slowhand played some stellar tributes, like the one below, taken from my seat in the lower level. I purchased the ticket via touts outside (RAH is always a tout hangout) and sat next to an American who had originally purchased the ticket for $250 for his girlfriend who didn’t make the trip. They had a fight the day before and he hopped on the plane without her. Her loss; my gain.

KRS-One (Jazz Cafe – paid face 24 pounds), May 20.

Last time I saw the Blastmaster KRS1 was about 10 years ago at Shepherd’s Bush Empire and it was one of my favorite gigs of all time. But he’s slowed down since. He played for about 1.15 with a long break for some audience participation. Still, he’s a legend and it was a fun show. He also threw about 50 signed tennis balls into the crowd, though I didn’t catch any. Jazz Cafe is also a favorite venue.


Foo Fighters (Slane Castle, Dublin – paid face of 225.50 euros for VIP access *I think this is a record price for me), May 30.

This show was the focus point of a boys trip to Dublin. I went along with the group who elected to pay for exorbitant VIP seats, which unfortunately didn’t offer any rain cover — especially since it was lashing down on us all night.

What they did offer, however, was a covered drinks lounge which we took full advantage of, along with access to the after-party  in the castle itself.  Unfortunately, we took the decision to leave the party before the roads had opened up again, which meant a 1 hour walk in the rain to our ride. Ouchie.

Arsenal’s win in the FA Cup final earlier more than made up for it all though. I found a small pub a few miles away and reveled with some local supporters before hopping on a bus to the gig. I probably missed the first 40 mins but it was all good.

#foofighters #slane #dublin #ireland

A photo posted by MB (@motez56) on


Gary Clark Jr. (Somerset House- paid 33.45 pounds), July 10.

Greatest young blues artist around playing at another favorite venue in London, the open-air Somerset House set along the Thames. Catch him live, it’s a great show.

#itsallovernowbaby #garyclarkjr #ilovelondon #sommersethouse

A video posted by MB (@motez56) on


Zahed Sultan (Barbican – face 12 pounds), July 16

A good friend playing his biggest London stage to date. An impressive multi-media performance with audience participation. Loved it, clap clap.

@zahedsultan #iamsound

A video posted by MB (@motez56) on


Foo Fighters & Iggy Pop (Milton Keynes Bowl – paid face, or close to 50.96 pounds), September 6

Again with Foo Fighters. A good friend kindly invited me, and I brought along Ms Frugal Fan to the event (the Foos are her favorite band). It was crowded, we were far, and it was a long walk back to the station. Pearl Jam’s gig at the MK Bowl in 2014 offered a lot more breathing room.

#foofighters #miltonkeynes #calmbeforethestorm

A photo posted by MB (@motez56) on


Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park, featuring Rod Stewart and Bryan Adams (Hyde Park – paid face 44 pounds), September 13.

Am I the only non-over 50 year old white guy that loves Rod the Mod? It was a fairly heterogeneous crowd at Hyde Park, and Rod had planned that night to be one for his rarities. So no Baby Jane, Do You Think I’m Sexy, Hot Legs, Maggy May, etc.

Bryan Adams, on the other hand, stuck to the oldies,  thank God. It was my first time seeing him live, and I was pretty stoked.


Tom Keifer (Whiskey A Go Go, West Hollywood – paid face $40 at door), Sept 24.

Going into Autumn’s back to school weather, I had a giant whiff of nostalgia which had me pining for 80’s hair metal. With a bit of googling around, I quickly realized that the lead singer from Cinderella would be playing in LA while I was there later that month…and at the Whiskey no less! The venue made famous by its house band of the early 70s, The Doors.

Keifer played to a packed house (huh? okay, hair metal is alive and well in LA, and maybe the Philippines too), and was totally rad. He played old Cinderella hits, and he even played covers by the Stones and Beatles. My favorites were the acoustic numbers like the one below:


Silversun Pickups (Hollywood Forever Cemetery, VIP comp through friend of the band), Sept 29.

My friend Kira went to high school with the bassist of SSP who hooked us up with VIP passes at a venue set inside a cemetery. I had never heard of these guys, but that night they won me over as a fan.

night 2, last night. @hwdforever ready for number 3…~x

A photo posted by Silversun Pickups (@sspu) on


George Ezra (Ryman Auditorium, Nashville – paid $25.59, face?) Sept 30.

I landed into Nashville airport an hour before that gig started and got to the Ryman (one of the Meccas of country music) right on time.

I know of Ezra because he’s British and is big on the radio in London. He looks like a quire boy but sings like James Earl Jones. A talent who we’ll hear more of, no doubt.

Thank you for this photo, thank you for last night x

A photo posted by George Ezra (@george_ezra) on


Jason Isbell & John Prine (Von Braun Center Concert Hall, Huntsville, Alabama – paid $136.80, face value ?), October 2.

Like Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell is a talent that I’ll pay to watch anytime and anywhere. It was my fourth time seeing him in the span of 2 years, and I have tickets to see him again in Jan.

That night, however, he was opening up for John Prine, a legendary country music singer/songwriter and big influence on Isbell. Most of the crowd, including myself, assumed Prine was the opening act. As such, I missed a few songs of Jason’s set, but saw all of Prine’s — and I loved it. He’s a much-covered legend for a reason.


Neil Young & The Promise of the Real (Cosmopolitan Las Vegas – paid face value $80), October 11.

Best show of the year, hands down. Which is funny, because Young earned my worst show of the year award in 2014. What changed? His backing band. He went from playing with the dinosaurs known as Crazy Horse, to the hard rocking, ass kicking quartet of the Promise of the Real — who include two sons of Willy Nelson.

Vegas can be a soulless place, but their venues are purpose-built with ideal sound quality. That made a big difference too. On a three hour set, those guys rocked hard all the way through, with a nod to Young’s recently released anti-Monsanto rant album.

It started off with Young alone on piano fittingly playing After the Gold Rush before he got some other classics out of the way on his Martin D-28.

Then came the Promise of the Real accompanied by men in body suits spraying fake pesticide onto the crowd. They finished the night off throwing organic seeds into the crowd. Loved it.


Grace Jones (Sushi Samba London anniversary party), Nov 10.

Grace Jones is 65 and has more energy than me and you combined. She is also batshit crazy and we love her.

No caption needed, the Queen was in the building! 👑 🙌🏼 #sambazonia #gracejones

A photo posted by SUSHISAMBA (@sushisamba) on


Karima Francis (The Slaughtered Lamb – paid face £5), Dec 2.

Karima captured me as a fan a few years back with her debut album along with a phenomenal cover of Amy Winehouse’s Tears Dry On Their Own. This show was set in a tiny pub basement. But she played mostly songs I didn’t recognize from her new album, a lot which were cut in melancholy Jeff Buckley style using an electric guitar. Nice, but not what I came for.


Stereophonics (O2 London – paid £23.60, face  £45), Dec 16.

My last gig of the year. I don’t know these guys that well, but Kelly Jones has a killer voice and is a talented songwriter. That’s why I went, and that’s pretty much what was delivered. Plus I paid half-price on the day of, never a bad thing.

Thank you London!! Happy Christmas!!#keepthevillagealive

A photo posted by Stereophonics (@stereophonicsofficial) on

And the shows that got away:

Ed Sheeran (Wembley Stadium), July 12

A case of mistiming the market. Ms Frugal Fan and I showed up at Wembley late (well, just before showtime) and there was nary a scalper in sight. We could hear the roar of 80,000 as the ginger man came on stage. Ended up going to a movie instead (the Amy Winehouse biopic)…. on my birthday.

Wembley night #3

A photo posted by @teddysphotos on

Ryan Bingham (Koko in Camden), Oct 22.

I’m currently playing this former Texan rodeo hand’s music on loop most days. Just had a brain freeze and didn’t go, but looked like an awesome gig. I’ll try and catch him in 2016…

Here’s to a very happy 2016 full of music and joy to everyone.

One Response to My live music wrap-up 2015

  1. Wahab says:

    Keifer = Awesome!

    Bryan Adams’ still got it, impressive!

    Looking forward to 2017’s review.

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