Gigs of 2015

The Delta Riggs @ The Corner, one of the gigs of 2015

The Delta Riggs @ The Corner, one of the gigs of 2015

2015 saw a few less gigs than previous years – a bit of travel and self inflicted injury saw to that – but what a selection to choose from. Splendour in the Grass was back with its best lineup in years. There was a long awaited return from a band near and dear to these ears, there were blockbuster acts who delivered over multiple stadium nights, and – as always – gigs at sweaty bars with sticky floors featured heavily. Here then are my favourite gigs of 2015.

As always, stuff missed out. Some by a small margin, some by a lot. Robbie Williams doesn’t have the voice anymore but he still entertained, The Pierce Brothers gave us some busking fun, Tim Rogers hooked up with Kylie Auldist & The Bamboos to play some stuff other than You Am I tunes and Alice Cooper opened for Motley Crüe when really it should have been the other way around.

On the flipside, early in the year Spoon were disappointing, Incubus were uninspiringly terrible and upstaged by not one but two of their support acts, and the Foo Fighters just couldn’t end a song. I’ll never understand the Future Music Festival, but I did show my age by loving the set The Prodigy delivered there.

Here though are the ones that mattered. To me.

10. Royal Blood – Amphitheatre, Splendour in the Grass

Royal Blood @ Splendour in the Grass (Byron Bay, 26th July 2015)

Royal Blood @ Splendour in the Grass (Byron Bay, 26th July 2015)

An intense Sunday night set from the British duo that involved virtually every song from their debut album and a whole lot of sweat. What Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher have done to the old moniker of ‘Drum n Bass’ is mighty fine.

Photos: Splendour in the Grass 2015

9. Harts – The Corner, Richmond

Harts @ The Corner (Melbourne, 23rd April 2015)

Harts @ The Corner (Melbourne, 23rd April 2015)

Darren Hart likes Prince. One would suspect he also likes Jimi Hendrix. What is beyond doubt though is that the guy can play guitar, and filling this support slot at the Corner Hotel set the scene for a busy year for the guitarist from Melbourne. Supremely talented and with a stage presence you can’t ignore, ensured Harts was high on the list of must see acts at Splendour at few months later.

Photos: The Delta Riggs, Harts @ The Corner

8. Taylor Swift – AAMI Park, Melbourne

Taylor Swift @ AAMI Park (Melbourne, 10th December 2015)

Taylor Swift @ AAMI Park (Melbourne, 10th December 2015)

Tay Tay is the biggest act in the world right now, and by some margin. She brought her mammoth 1989 tour to Melbourne’s AAMI Park and delivered a show that was polished but still allowed interaction with fans – so often lacking at these big shows. The venue played its part, and the sheer variety of demographic she attracts suggests that she’ll be on top of the world for a few more years yet.

Photos: Taylor Swift @ AAMI Park

7. Future Islands – The Hi-Fi, Melbourne

Future Islands @ The Hi-Fi (Melbourne, 7th February 2015)

Future Islands @ The Hi-Fi (Melbourne, 7th February 2015)

After an amazing set in 2014Future Islands were back on our shores early in the year. No strangers to Australia, Samuel T. Herring‘s unique mix of singing and aerobics never lost steam. On record, Future Islands are solid, but live is where they belong.

Photos: Future Islands @ The Hi-Fi

6. Father John Misty @ The Forum, Melbourne

Father John Misty @ The Forum (9th December 2015)

Father John Misty @ The Forum (9th December 2015)

How to describe Father John Misty? Is he a folk singer, a self-help figure, stand up comic? He may well be all of this rolled into one hairy bearded package. Touring his 2015 album I Love You, Honeybear, Father John had the Forum crowd eating out of the palm of his hand from the second he kicked off the title track.

With an ‘encore’ that was reborn as a Q&A session, this was a show without many comparisons to draw on.

Photos: Father John Misty @ The Forum

5. The Wombats – SheBeen Bar, Melbourne

The Wombats @ SheBeen (Melbourne, 24th February 2015)

The Wombats @ SheBeen (Melbourne, 24th February 2015)

One of the toughest tickets in town to get hold of. Liverpool’s The Wombats decided to launch their upcoming album Glitterbug not in a venue like Festival Hall or The Forum, but in a small 200 capacity laneway bar called SheBeen. Probably closer together on stage than they have been in some time, and with a crowd who were completely up for it, this was a great chance to see the small venue charm of a decent sized band.

Photos: The Wombats @ SheBeen

4. Johnny Marr – GW McLennan Stage, Splendour in the Grass

Johnny Marr @ GW McLennan Stage (Splendour, 2015)

Johnny Marr @ GW McLennan Stage (Splendour, 2015)

“No stubble here, and no fucking laptops’. Johnny Marr is on stage, with a guitar. And it’s incredible. On the first day of Splendour, the mid sized GW McLennan tent is bursting, and Marr decides to dedicate the classic Smiths tune There is a Light That Never Goes Out to “Everyone inside the tent, not the guy outside the tent who has a beard”.

The set is dedicated to the humans. Because the humans will rise.

Hands did, as one, from start to finish of Marr’s amazing set. 

Photos: Johnny Marr @ Splendour

3. U2 – Bercy Arena, Paris

11th November 2015

U2 @ Bercy Arena (Paris, 11th November 2015)

U2 @ Bercy Arena (Paris, 11th November 2015)

After years of seeing U2 at vast, cavernous stadiums, the opportunity to catch them in Paris at the far smaller (and indoor) Bercy Arena was too good to pass up. An incredible production, mixed in with some raw, early style 4-guys-in-a-band versions of songs I’d not heard live before (Electric Co., anyone?) made this a fantastic experience. Bono‘s voice wasn’t at its best, but when you’ve got the back catalogue these guys have, mixed with some excellent newer tunes (Raised By Wolves the clear highlight), well, where else would you rather be?

What took place in the days that followed in Paris would force the postponement of subsequent shows, but on Remembrance Day, no one left disappointed.

Photos: U2 @ Bercy Arena, Paris

2. The Delta Riggs – The Corner, Richmond

The Delta Riggs @ The Corner (Melbourne, 23rd April 2015)

The Delta Riggs @ The Corner (Melbourne, 23rd April 2015)

Splitting 1st and 3rd are a bunch of Queenslanders who now call Melbourne home. The Delta Riggs had a huge 2015 calendar, and of the shows witnessed it was their April show at the Corner which blew the others off the map. Big riffs, a nutcase frontman, and a level of crowd involvement that was reminiscent of mid-90s era You Am I… The Delta Riggs showed in 2015 that they were just as at home on the huge stages of Etihad Stadium supporting the Foo Fighters as they were to a packed out local pub.

Just go and see them.

Photos: The Delta Riggs @ The Corner

1. Blur – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne

28th July 2015

Blur @ Rod Laver Arena (Melbourne, 28th July 2015)

Blur @ Rod Laver Arena (Melbourne, 28th July 2015)

Almost 18 years it had been since Blur last set foot in Australia. Sure, Damon Albarn had popped out here with Gorillaz, and then again on an excellent solo tour last year, but Graham, Alex and Dave hadn’t joined him.

In 2015 though it finally happened. After reannouncing themselves to the country at Splendour, Blur delivered the nearest thing to live music perfection in 2015 with their set at Rod Laver Arena. Songs from The Magic Whip mingled perfectly with There’s No Other Way in the early offerings to the crowd. For Tomorrow found its way into the encore, Damon jumped, Graham smiled, Alex didn’t smoke. For all their on-again-off-again moments of the past 10 years, Blur were back.

Quite a birthday present really.

Photos: Blur @ Rod Laver Arena

2015 is done. Foals and The Flaming Lips kick off proceedings in 2016, and in 12 months we’ll see if they did enough to find a place in this most coveted end of year list. For now though, may all your pub floors be sticky, and may all your amps be turned up to 11.


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