So there we have it kids, another year has been and gone. Was it just me or did 2013 seem to fly by? I honestly can’t believe that my Vegas trip was in 2012 or that it’s time to compile my annual awards for album and gig of the year already, but there we go.
I’m not usually one for resolutions as Big Ben chimes 12, but it’s always useful to look back over a year to put into perspective just what has gone down and to make yourself realise that you didn’t just sit around in your pants thrapping like a spider monkey for the entire year.
For me, 2013 was the year I got closer than ever to music. Since I resumed my gig-going in October 2009, I’ve found myself uncovering more and more music I like as well as re-appraising some old favourites, and 2013 gave me all that and more. Helped considerably by joining the team over at Daily Dischord, I found myself listening to all sorts of new CDs and hitting more gigs than ever.
I even got to interview up and comers TesseracT as well as old-stager (and one of my favourite frontmen) Ricky Warwick of The Almighty fame. It’s been a number of years since my journalism degree, but armed with my little notebook and a paranoia over whether my phone would record, both chats turned out well and it was good to appreciate music with those responsible for making it in the first place.
I also chatted to a few other musically-minded people this year, bumping into the incredibly friendly Baby Godzilla and Hawk Eyes boys on more than one occasion, seeing Napalm Death legend Shane Embury in a toilet and most importantly getting royally sauced with Black Spiders.
As many of you will know, I’m rather partial to the ‘Spiders‘ brand of good old rock and roll and when one of the options with their Pledge Music campaign was to go on a brewery tour with the band, I couldn’t possibly turn it down. And what a day it was. Not only was the brewery tour great fun, (there was more beer than anyone in their right mind could wish for) the fun didn’t stop there, instead continuing round some of Sheffield’s finest watering holes until we were all in various states of disrepair. The band themselves were brilliant fun, utter gentlemen and it was a great way to not only support the recording of their new record but to participate in a true one-off experience. Thanks guys!
As well as the above mentioned rock star hobnobbing my biggest achievement of 2013 was meeting three idols of mine. By chance I bumped into Ginger Wildheart before a …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead gig, chatting to him and my old Turbowolf muckers for some time. Unfortunately this did mean I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to grab a photo like a fanboy, but the shit-eating grin suggests I had few regrets.
Around the same time I got into The Wildhearts, I was also massively enthusiastic about Terrorvision. The Bradford scoundrels produced the soundtrack to my youth, so when it was quite frankly scandalous to NOT buy lead singer Tony Wright a pint and thank him for his work over the years, I had no choice. Again, cue ridiculously happy photo opportunity.
Tony is not only a comedic mastermind in lyrics as well as on social media, he’s also a hilarious guy in ‘real life’ coming out with all sorts of anecdotes during our drunken natter. Once again it was great of him after a sweaty show to want to bother mixing with the likes of me for a pint or two and I can’t wait until T’vision hit the Northern realms again.
Last but by no means least, my favourite band of all time; Therapy? had a decent year, producing a career-spanning boxset of epic proportions, but no doubt lead singer Andy Cairns’ highlight was going on his first ever solo acoustic tour and getting to meet the adoring rabble including me…
As for the gigs themselves; wow. Without giving anything away ahead of my Gig of the Year award I can reveal that I’ve witnessed some amazing shows including an astonishing Manic Street Preachers comeback performance in a relatively intimate venue which really took my breath away, and other shows throughout 2013, both big and small were nothing short of incendiary.
I’m not just talking about metal either, as the always reliably leftfield Manchester International Festival out-did itself this year with an amazing line-up. The spellbinding Adam Curtis Vs Massive Attack event was nothing short of astounding, whilst Rocket Number 9 and a triumphantly returning Neneh Cherry produced a mesmeric show. The whole atmosphere of the festival made a strangely warm summer even more enjoyable and it’s always sad to see it go.
In the comedy world, I hit the Edinburgh Fringe and had some banter with QI’s John Lloyd and Mitch Benn as well as taking in shows by more performers than I can actually remember. Another crowning glory of 2013 was when I finally got to meet one of my childhood comedy heroes, Rob Newman, who was a truly lovely man. Humble about the success with David Baddiel that made him a megastar, deep down, Newman is still that shuffling, slightly bumbling comic that drew us all in with The Mary Whitehouse Experience.
More recently I achieved another childhood dream of performing magic with Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee, and I rounded off the year by hitting Ginger Wildheart‘s 5th Annual Birthday Bash which featured guest appearances by everyone from Snow Patrol to Starz.
All in all then, you’d say it was a pretty eventful 2013 and with trips to Edinburgh, Munich and Belgium planned for 2014, the new year’s off to a promising start too…