And now the end is near…or something.
As 2019 draws to a close and we wait, with fevered anticipation, for the dawning of the twenties here are the top five gigs of the year as determined by little old me.
The return of Geneva has been a wonderful thing this year.
Following on from Andrew Montgomery’s appearance at the Star Shaped Festival in 2018 the whole gang decided that the time was right to stalk the stages of the UK again and to remind people who were there the first time of why we fell in love so deeply and to convert new followers at the same time.
At the start of this year they played in a venue that was central to the Britpop scene in Scotland during the nineties; The Wee Red Bar at the Edinburgh College of Art. Home to The Egg an indie, soul, Mod and whatever else club where the likes of me would gather, suited and booted, to strut our stuff and convince ourselves that we were ace faces. It is a tiny room without a stage and, on a cold night at the height of winter, 100 or so souls crammed themselves into the space to witness the return of one of the most beautiful bands of the nineties.
It was, honestly, a near religious experience.
Each song sounded like a hymn.
Each burst of applause an “amen”.
Each note from Andrew the sound of angels on high.
A special night with special people.
Sleeper didn’t return in order to play the hits…they returned because they had things to say and they said them in a quite magnificent way with their best ever album, The Modern Age.
I travelled from Edinburgh to London for this gig despite the fact I had already seen them perform in Auld Reekie just days earlier. I knew that a night in London and in the company of a band re-born would be…special.
I stood at the back of the room dancing and singing like everyone else around me. But also watching. Not just the band but the crowd. Turn to the left…a gaggle of women dancing and grinning like loons. Turn to the right…blokes with arms held high, roaring back the chorus to every song. Look straight ahead…a sell out crowd moving, heaving, swaying and surging. And then there was me…with a smile as wide as the Thames plastered across my middle-aged face; delighted that a band who meant more to me than so many others were back and were back with so much vim, vigour and verve.
If this was simply a full stop then what a way to end the story…but I have a feeling there might be one more chapter; at least.
A genuinely intimate evening with Sonya Madan and Glenn Johansson.
Tucked away in the cosy confines of Edinburgh’s Mash House this was a chance to really hear some of the best songs from one of the best bands to emerge during the nineties.
All human life is here.
Stripped back the quality of both Johansson’s playing and Madan’s writing are impossible to deny.
I HATE MISS JUNE.
Not my words but the joyously perverse marketing “slogan” of the band themselves.
Full of humour and righteous indignation Miss June are a blitzkrieg bop of rock ‘n’ punk ‘n’ riot grrrrl ‘n’ even (whisper it) pop. They are fuelled by the sheer joy of playing music and the desire to connect with others. Hip without being hipster. Cool without ever being too cool for school. Their arrival in my world made it, instantly, better.
This was something…special.
If I am to be honest then I can only really describe this as a religious experience.
I felt, by the time the band left the stage, as though I had been born again…maybe even born for the first time. Alive. Connected. Whole. Peaceful. For all the fury and thunder that propels the music at times the truth of the matter is that The Murder Capital are attempting to do something radical in these turbulent times…deliver a message of hope and love.
Like I said…special.