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Best Gigs 2010

Catherine May


What a year 2010 has been for me, musically. It was a much-awaited year in which I turned eighteen. Was I excited at the prospect of legal drinking or smoking? No. For me, turning eighteen meant finally being able to attend 18+ gigs without either dragging older relatives along or crying on venue doorsteps. (The latter wasn’t me personally, but my friend did it and we were rewarded with our own private box and bodyguard – so it did work!)

The first few months were rather quiet, but in March things began to pick up. I saw Lisa Mitchell, The Boy Who Trapped The Sun and Benjamin Francis Leftwich in one night. Then I caught Paloma Faith’s flamboyant performance the following week.

April bought with it the first of 2010’s three Amy Macdonald gigs. Firstly I saw her at Shepherds Bush Empire; sat on an upper tier I had the chance to appreciate the venue for its elaborate design whilst listening to Amy’s strong vocals. After a holiday that meant I missed Joshua Radin’s UK tour, I polished the month off by seeing the ever-impressive Nerina Pallot at Union Chapel.

May saw me blag my way into Joshua Radin’s intimate Hard Rock Café gig, see Michael Bublé sing to The O2 without a microphone and then hear the immense guitar playing of John Mayer at Wembley.

In June I returned to the Hard Rock to catch Amy Macdonald again and once more enjoy the hospitality of the venue with its platters of free food and drink. Then I ventured to Islington one Sunday afternoon after a Twitter friend told me I just had to see Matt Corby at The Old Queen’s Head. He wasn’t the most spectacular performer, but the venue certainly charmed me.

July and August saw me out of the country travelling and it wasn’t until October, when I moved to Manchester for University, that I was able to appreciate the wonders of live music once more.

First came a weekend in which I saw Brandon Flowers and Joshua Radin/Justin Nozuka on consecutive nights at Academy 1. Amy Macdonald at the theatrical Apollo followed soon after and in the weeks since then I’ve discovered a gem of a venue in The Deaf Institute. I caught local band Answering Machine there before more recently being wowed by Sarah Blasko’s presence on the small stage. In amongst these, I’ve also caught Lissie in the shoebox setting of Academy 2 and Joe Brooks and Jason Reeves at The Roadhouse.

What was my favourite gig of the year? Tough question. Seeing Joshua Radin at the Hard Rock Café wins the title of my favourite intimate gig, with Nerina coming a close second. But with the larger gigs I find it hard to choose between the incredible stage presences of John Mayer and Michael Bublé. They’re incredibly different – that’s for sure – but they both know how to impress an audience in their own way.

2010 was undoubtedly the best year of my life for seeing live music, I hope 2011 can try to match it!