When I thought back about the gigs I had seen in 2011, I got somewhat depressed as my impression was that, with but a few highlights, that it had been a disappointing year. However, rereading the words of my fellow scribes indicated that it hadn’t actually been all that bad. So, onwards an upwards, here are the ten best gigs…
Tenniscoats (Garnethill Multicultural Centre – June 2011)
With not a hint of amplification, this Japanese duo brought serenity to a room and filled it with simple acoustic musical beauty. That, my friends, is the real deal (and they completely diverted me from the reality that I was drinking 4% chipmunk lager and surrounded by the kind of people for whom cardigans are a lifestyle choice). Read the full review.
Amanda Palmer (The Arches – August 2011)
What can I say? The woman is a goddess and she delivered the kind of performance that proved that she should be the first female Pope. None of this 45 minutes and gone stuff either with a Springsteen duration set that never, ever, flagged. Read the full review.
The Indelicates (13th Note – June 2011)
An object lesson on taking a concept album to a tiny basement stage, the sheer quality and intelligence of this band was an object lesson on how to entertain. It was enough to make me buy their album. Done deal. Sold. Read the full review.
The Hedrons (Box – December 2011)
A gig at Box that was actually good? It had to happen, I suppose. The Hedrons returned and stomped up the house. Tippi walked the bar. Their girl drummer – endearingly called Soup I was informed –proved that girls are better than guys at hitting things. It might not sound like much but you had to be there. Read the full review.
Jo Mango (Captain’s Rest – April 2011)
This was something of a surprise as the truly adorable Jo Mango wrapped an entire audience around her little finger with a cleverly understated and inventive performance. She was actually supporting the rather dull Agnes Obel but, to tell the truth, I only remember Ms Mango. Read the full review.
Mummy Short Arms (13th Note – April 2011)
Purveyors of musical invention, Mummy Short Arms would stop any Captain Beefheart fan in his tracks such is their skewed musical excellence and on stage presence. Simply the best as Tina Turner would say. Read the full review.
How Garbo Died (Pivo Pivo – April 2011)
A jaw dropper. Anguished electro pop duo took their misanthropy right out into the audience. It was the stuff that legends are made of. Job done! Read the full review.
The Mademoiselle (Stereo – November 2011)
They might have been supporting the none too shabby Kochka but it was The Mademoiselle that lived on in my memory. Complexity was their game and this trio played it so well. Read the full review.
Goto Izumi (Mono – August 2011)
I think that I only needed the fingers of one hand to count those in attendance but the sight of Goto Izumi performing whilst wearing a rabbit’s head has lingered on and on in my head. That’s showbusiness. Read the full review.
Choking Susan (13th Note - July 2011)
Nothing short of a primal force, Choking Susan invaded the audience in more ways than one. Proof positive that a band should engage with its audience whether they like it or not. Read the full review.
Final thoughts? I’d like to raise a glass – a proper glass and not one of those plastic ones - to the unsung heroes of live music in Glasgow. Yes, the bar staff at the less “impressive” Glasgow venues who had the good grace to apologise for having to serve good beer in cheap plastic glasses and the bouncers for somehow managing to diplomatically handle the fans of ned rock bands as they indulge themselves in such playful behaviour as invading the stage when there were actually more people on stage than in the audience and the ever popular rolling of a drunk Auntie jape. That one never gets old.