The Christmas countdown of our best of 2016 continues here at The Northern Chords, with numbers #15 through #11 today. Ho ho ho!
Manchester Arena, Manchester, 08.04.16.
Muse’s seventh record Drones was another album full of Wagnerian bluster, pompous riffs and tetchy progtronica – so it was only right that their UK tour should see them exceed Spinal Tap levels of overblown spectacle by flying numerous drones around Britain’s biggest arena, lit up like kaleidoscopic mines and portable suns. Such theatrics would be a distraction if not for the quality of the band below. Though their new material could be stodgy, classic new glam-anthems like Uprising and Knights of Cydonia allowed Matt Bellamy, Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme to flex their peerless musical muscles in another toud-de-force performance. The band headline Reading and Leeds next year – a show sure to be another captivating notch in their belt.
|Muse performing live in Manchester in 2016.|
(Credit to Joel Goodman.)
Cigarettes After Sex
Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 22.11.16.
Cigarettes After Sex – the Texan ambient collective led by the softly-spoken Greg Gonzalez – have been making waves for a reason. Their brand of androgynous, witchy music, eerily reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins, is disarmingly hypnotic and whilst their show at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds was rather short on quantity, it was easily eclipsed by quality. From their latest single K, through a cover of REO Speedwagon’s Keep on Loving You, to the superbly executed Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby, Gonzalez and company kept their crowd hooked in a dreamlike state of haunted ecstasy. The group return to these shores for a trio of shows next Spring – a must see for any fan of ethereal pop.
|Cigarettes after Sex performing live in New York in 2015.|
(Credit to brechtbug.)
Glastonbury Festival, Pilton, 25.06.16.
Few people would have the balls to were a pristine white suit in the torrential mud of Glastonbury 2016, but Theo Hutchcraft is not one of them. Like a sexually-charged angel stalking the slate grey skies and stage, his boundless energy and impeccable vocals helped make Hurts’ set one of the weekend’s stand-out highlights. From the throbbing bass of Some Kind of Heaven to the emphatic disco-dance of Sunday, to the stunning ballad Stay that closed their brief, hour-long set, Hutchcraft and musical partner Adam Anderson kept up an arch vein of witty synthpop that served as a wonderful tonic to the drizzle over Pilton. Hurts are classy party-starters – and they showed why they remain a massive live draw across the continent with their excellent showmanship.
|Hurts performing live at Glastonbury Festival 2016.|
(Credit to BBC.)
Manchester Academy, Manchester, 03.04.16.
It’s a rare treat when power-pop icons Weezer makes the journey across to the UK. With no full tour over here in well over a decade, and their appearances reduced to sporadic London and festival shows, their stop in Manchester behind their four self-titled record was long overdue. The Californian legends justified the wait and the hype too, with a blistering career-spanning set including college-staple tracks such as Say It Ain’t So, Buddy Holly and Troublemaker, the latter complete with a snippet of Oasis’ Champagne Supernova. Weezer are perhaps the perfect crowd-pleasing live band, tight and catchy; but let’s hope they don’t make Britain wait another ten years for a proper visit.
|Weezer performing live in Manchester in 2016.|
(Credit to thefourohfive.com)
Neil Young and Promise of the Real
First Direct Arena, Leeds, 10.06.16.
Canadian folk legend Neil Young’s first visit to Europe with his new backing group, Californian jam band Promise of the Real, was as thrilling as its billing suggested. Opening with a solo acoustic set featuring classic cuts such as Heart of Gold and Comes a Time, Young steered the show through his musical evolution, from his hippie days to his place as the godfather of grunge, through twenty-minute renditions of Cowgirl in the Sand and Down by the River, all stuttering staccato guitar licks. When he screamed “Fuck Donald Trump!” at the beginning of a messy yet visceral Rockin’ in the Free World, his rage at the state of the West was palpable. A genuine icon, Young remains a compelling live performer, even as his septuagenarian years roll on.
|Neil Young performing live in Glasgow in 2016.|
(Credit to The Guardian.)