Glastonbury Festival, Pilton, 24.06.16.
A few acts may play across the Thursday evening at Glastonbury, but the first spot on the Other Stage on Friday has become a coveted position, third only to headliner and the Legends Slot. In Madchester icons James, riding a revival of fortunes behind new record Girl at the End of the World, the festival found a match made in heaven. From the brass-drenched feelgood anthemics of Nothing But Love, to the baggy throwback of Laid, through the soaring alt-rock balladry of Tomorrow, Tim Booth and company helped blow through the drizzle and referendum hangover with a chirpy, feel-good performance. Altogether now; come home, come home….
|Tim Booth of James performing live in Manchester in 2016.|
(Credit to Sean Hansford.)
Manchester Arena, Manchester, 29.11.16.
Goth-pop legends The Cure’s first UK show in almost two years – and first arena show at least three times that length – may have been a breeze compared to recent slogs at a mere two hours; but Robert Smith and co packed it so full of hits and fan favourites that it was difficult to feel short-changed. Backed by five vertical screens and a wild, often trippy light show, the band played a career-spanning set, from the juddering post-punk thrill of A Forest to the charged jangle-rock of The Hungry Ghost, and found space to throw in the joyously bouncy trio of Just Like Heaven, In Between Days and Friday I’m In Love. The Cure are back again – and even all these years later, smudged kohl and lipstick has never felt so giddily fun. Stellar stuff.
|The Cure performing live at Bestival 2016.|
(Credit to Red Bull.)
Glastonbury Festival, Pilton, 25.06.16.
Beige. Uninspired. Music for grannies. Boring. Not Glastonbury enough. These were just some of the insults thrown around regarding the booking of soul pop singer Adele Adkins, the biggest artist on the planet. Yet from the opening notes of mega-ballad Hello to the closing piano chimes of Someone Like You, the Tottenham-born superstar won over her audience with a tight, superb performance of her biggest hits, punctured with potty-mouth rambles and fez-sporting sidetracks. With modern classics such as Skyfall, Set Fire to the Rain and Rolling in the Deep dispatched with flair and panache, Adele proved soft pop had a place on the Pyramid and wrote herself into history once more doing so.
|Adele performing live at Glastonbury Festival 2016.|
(Credit to BBC.)
O2 Academy Leeds, Leeds, 14.02.16.
It was fitting perhaps, that on a grey Valentine’s Day, Suede turned up to the O2 Academy Leeds to play a new album based around the concept of a relationship disintegrating in tragic circumstances. Their presentation of latest record Night Thoughts – played entirely behind a screen onto which an accompanying short film was played – was a nature, challenging, cinematic thrill; and when they unloaded the hits in a second act, curtain raised, the band were even more compelling. From Brett Anderson’s snake-hip thrust on the deliciously dirty Animal Nitrate to the wretched-scuzz riffs of Trash, Suede reaffirmed themselves as a vital live act, unafraid to take a gamble here and there.
|Suede performing live in Manchester in 2016.|
(Credit to Manchester Evening News.)
First Direct Arena, Leeds, 04.12.16.
The Scottish power trio’s return to arenas may have been down on attendance figures compared to their 2013 jaunt; but the Ayrshire rockers gave no less an incendiary performance than they did three years ago. From the pummelling fretwork of Wolves of Winter to the euphoric lighters-aloft balladry of Biblical, to the stoner-sprint of Bubbles, Simon Neil and brothers Ben and James Johnston roared – minus their tops of course – through a 130-minute extravaganza, on a stage bedecked by four separate halogen lighting rigs that gave the impression of an optical illusion. They arguably peaked with the iconic, sky-high singalong of Many of Horror – but Neil showcased his showmanship best when accompanied only by an acoustic guitar for a beautiful Machines. Mon the Biff indeed!
|Biffy Clyro performing live at Reading Festival in 2016.|
(Credit to Emma Swan.)