The Best Gigs of the Year: 2014

2014 has had some incredible gigs to it’s name, from the incredible to the incredulous we’ve seen the bad and the beautiful work hard to make gigs worth going out for.

In a time when we have the contrary positions of reduced revenue from record sales pushing tours and the closure of some of the UK’s favourite venues both vying to disrupt our heritage as one of the greatest live-music-loving nations in the world, Far Out have compiled the best gigs of the year to keep your heart warm in the cold months.

We haven’t numbered them (because we’re not ‘in’ to labels,yah?) instead we’ve named them (scratch that last bit, yah?) for why they have made our list. Because it doesn’t matter if they are big or small band on a wide or tall stage; in Britain we love live music and we love it all. 

The Nostalgic One – The Libertines, Alexandra Palace   

Ramshackle and always bubbling with turbulence and chaos, Pete and Carl continued their reunion with the same discourse as two old flames in a dingy bar. There was a feeling this will definitely not last forever, the old problems will soon arise but for this solitary moment everything was as passionate as it was perfect.”

Like them or loathe them The Libertines used to put on one hell of a show. This year after their reformation at the BST Hyde Park gig, which nearly ended in a Rolling Stones disaster, the band took to Alexandra Palace to prove they still had the mettle to hold on to a headline performance. The mettle, it appears, is one of the few things they haven’t sold in their down years. The band reduced the audience to a blubbering mess of leather clad clowns all vying for attention and desperately trying not to let the night end. The band tore across the stage manipulating this swelling mass of adoration in to something prophetic and poetic, the only downside coming when the band looked across the sea of faces desperate for more and realized they didn’t have another hit in the locker and a sense of ‘Here’s what you could’ve won…’ prevailed. But despite all that The Libertines still managed to deliver a gig full of blood, sweat and tears and reduce grown men to the childish and churlish lads they always wanted to be.

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The Sing-a-Long – Palma Violets, The Coronet 

“Calming and alarming it felt like the shattered voice of a generation, shouting for everything and nothing so loudly that it determined itself as a socio-cultural hit.” 

What started with logistical problems (namely a lack of alcohol at the bar – I mean seriously!?) ended with the year’s most sweat dripping, ear splitting sing-a-long. Palma Violets were hot off the release of their debut LP 180 which was fire perfectly stoked by the support acts. Childhood and Telegram filled the rest of the bill and did so with aplomb splitting the crowd between hazy 90’s sounds and classic 60’s flamboyance they gee’d up an audience already high on hormones and poppers. With ‘Best Friend’ closing the set amidst a torrid throng of adolescent decadence Palma Violets cemented themselves as the most loved new bands currently touring Britain.

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The Impassioned One – Benjamin Booker, The 100 Club

“…providing the night and the venue with the smattering of alcohol, sweat and joy it deserves as the crowd eagerly danced their way into a frenzy and faced the journey home doused in lager and smiling like the Cheshire Cat…” 

The atmosphere was electric, the performance filled with sweat and heavy blues riffs while the venue was complimented on its fantastic history by this very special artist. Booker showed off not only his incredible album and prowess for mastering an audience but his insatiable love of music and performance as he tore across the stage and lit a fire under every individual in the illustrious 100 club. A cherished memory for all who attended, no doubt Booker himself, as well.

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The ‘I Was There!’ One – Parquet Courts, Manchester Academy 2

“They snarl, spit and bark their way through the final number in a way that echos New York punk legends like The Ramones and also conjures more recent memories of the excitement that was spawned by earlier Strokes material.” 

After so much incredible material coming out for the band across the year, Parquet Courts/Parkay Quartz and all the other in between definitively made a name for themselves in Manchester. Proving that you don’t have to be prog to be a guitar band these days. Parquet Courts demonstrated that sometimes simple is best and when simple is embellished with passionate performance, a socially wry appreciation and a snarling attitude that would befit a politically obtuse pit bull, you’re on to a winner. Parquet Courts provide a simple answer to the question “Is indie still relevant?” with an unequivocal “Yes!”.

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The Heavy One – The Wytches, The Harley 

“If you thought this band sounded raw on their debut album Annabel Dream Reader, this was something else. These guys ripped the gizzards out of their album tracks and painted the walls of the Harley with them.”  

The Wytches were another band to tear 2014 a new one. Well a new-ish one, as their heavily 90’s Grunge inspired sound encouraged teenage doldrums across the land to manifest their more morose intentions and flounder in the darkened themes of Bell’s lyrics. Full of veracious and intricate lines and accompanied by heavy guitar riffs and venomous vocals The Wytches proved they were not a band to be fucked with, potions or not, they were and are dangerous.

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The Festival – Beacons Festival 

“Having been invited to join in the festivities for the last couple of years it is now becoming evidently clear that Beacons is rapidly moving away from their quaint, romantic ‘up and coming’ festival tag into one of the countries most admired events.” 

The Yorkshire Dales have never felt so homely as when Beacons Festival rolls in to town with it’s 5,000 strong crowd an array of the finest Yorkshire ales. Couple this ruddy faced farmer vibe with some of the most progressive and incredible acts 2014 had to offer and it was easy to see why Beacons 2014 got the nod as Far Out’s favourite Festival. This year saw, amongst others, The Fall, The Wytches, Fat White Family, Toy, Cate Le Bon, PINS and more. Relish in the photos, dream of 2015 and get in the queue for tickets, behind us mind!

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It’s easy to see that 2014 was a great year for gigs and as revenues from record sales still continually take a trip to the playground and go on the slide at least, it seems, that touring and performances are still high on the agenda for any band worth their salt. It’s great to put out a record that has all the subtle nuances only a studio tech would notice but surely you’d prefer to be covered in sweat, piss, blood and beer whilst being serenaded by the atmosphere of live music. I know I would.

Jack Whatley

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