As the year comes to a close, here are my top 3 gigs of 2016:
1. James Blake, Hammersmith Apollo, 1st Nov. *****
James Blake, live at Glastonbury, in the mass expanse of the West Holts stage, was spectacular. The crowd he drew in, competing against Adele in the Saturday headline slot, was awe inspiring.
However, in the more intimate Hammersmith Apollo, the echoes of Blake’s voice were absolutely chilling. The bass shuddered, and the sirens on Life Round Here are still haunting. His vocals remain mesmerising, and the new tracks from The Colour In Anything sound beautiful: Timeless, I Need A Forest Fire, and Radio Silence all take their place, fleshed out, in an immaculate set.
Highlights included a live performance of Stop What You’re Doing; the multi-layered, intricate Measurements shouldn’t be achievable with just three musicians on stage; Forward stripped everything down to Blake’s voice + keyboard; whilst Retrograde was just sheer perfection.
Best song: Life Round Here
2. Beyonce, Wembley Stadium, 2nd July. *****
Touring Lemonade, my number 1 album of 2016, Beyonce tore down an electric Wembley Stadium. Her performance was one of sheer power; Beyonce is is a phenomenon. Performing an eclectic mix of rock and funk, Bey owned the stage in an incredible production.
Frequently appearing without her dancers, all the focus was on Beyonce and the theme of empowerment that flows through Lemonade and Beyonce. In total, she performed over 30 songs during an exquisite two hour set.
The a cappella sing alongs to Irreplaceable and Love On Top had the whole stadium in a rapture. The break down of Ring the Alarm / Diva / Flawless / Feeling Myself complete with Skepta remix was jaw-dropping.
Seeing the Formation tour in full swing was absolutely outstanding.
Best song: Drunk In Love
3. Coldplay, Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury Festival, 26th June. *****
Closing the Pyramid Stage on the Sunday at Glastonbury was the kind of gig Chris Martin was born for. After the concussion of Brexit, its no cliche to say that the whole festival needed something uplifting to take away upon returning to normality.
Coldplay delivered that in spades. Nearly two hours of fantastic sing-along pop music, hit after hit after hit had the crowd rocking. The set list was absolutely incredible; the light show/wrist band combo was an immense sight to behold (and carried on flashing on the drive home). The set just goes to show how versatile Coldplay are; they were unmissable, and yet when they were announced they weren’t top of my must-see list.
It was a perfect way to end a fantastic Glastonbury 2016.
Best song: Paradise
Honorable mention: Lady Leshur, Park Stage, Glastonbury Festival, 25th June.