Putting 2005 to bed, part 1: Gig Highlights

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1.  All Tomorrow's Parties, curated by Slint, 25th-27th February 2005
In ATP terms this had a shockingly low band count, freezing weather and you couldn't bring booze from chalet to venue, but despite those minor set backs it still couldn't fail to be a weekend of quality music and rowdy fun.  I did a full report around the time and as I compile this realise I'm realising that if I had split the bands into individual performances, there would be a lot of them taking over this top 10.  Namely Slint, the Melvins, Deerhoof, Mogwai, Bad Wizard.

2.  Slint, Dublin Vicar Street, 6th March 2005
Yes, the once in a lifetime chance to see Slint popped up again a week later when I found myself at their gig in Dublin.  Although the band played EXACTLY the same set as ATP,  I probably enjoyed this more, probably because the venue was more intimate, the audience were quieter and I wasn't drunk beyond belief.

3. Sufjan Stevens and his Illinoisemakers, Belfast Spring and Airbrake, October 2005
As I've been a fan of this guy for the last couple of years, he would have been higher except he hardly touched the 'Michigan' album at this show.  'Illinoise' and 'Seven Swans' dominated the material. The band were dressed as cheerleaders/ lettermen and introduced a lot of the songs with specific 'cheers'.  A lot of their act seemed to be influenced by the Danielson Familie, which is no bad thing in my book!  Some excellent songs though - highlights - 'Sister', 'Casimir S Pulaski Day', 'Chicago' etc.

4.  Beck, Belfast Waterfront Hall, 3rd June 2005
I'm surprised that three of my top four are all large-scale shows, especially as they were the only big shows I went to this year.  I had only seen Beck once before (nearly 10 years ago in the Point with the Foos, Manics, Afghan Whigs and Jesus Lizard - what a day that was!) and for his debut Belfast performance he pulled out a lot of his old material, something from every album from 'Mellow Gold' to 'Guero'.  In fact, I think he played nearly all of Guero.  Most memorable part was the acoustic section where the rest of the band had their dinner on stage, turning their plates and cutlery into a makeshift percussion section when they had finished!

5.  The Broken Family Band, Belfast Menagerie, 11th November 2005
An epic performance by the country-tinged Peel faves from London.  They did the standard waltz-time slow numbers that everyone expected but they really came to life when they stepped it up a gear.  More in common with the likes of the Wedding Present and Hefner, and their witty lyrics even remind me slightly of Half Man Half Biscuit.  Cheap sweaty fun.

6.  Hood/ Pram, Belfast Spring and Airbrake, 20th February 2005
It's a shame there was a poor turn-out for this, because it was one of the best double bills of the year.  I reviewed it when it happened, so go here.

7.  Chris Brokaw, Belfast White's Tavern, 28th April 2005
Top solo acoustic performance of the year if you care about such things!  Brokaw is the ex-Come/ Consonant guitarist and this was a triumphant return to Belfast for him.  Great guitar playing and some great songs too.  I really must get more of his recordings.

8.  Keith Fullerton Whitman (hrvatski), Belfast Bunker, September 2005
A solo laptop/ guitar-processing performance from the sometime Harvard employee and electro-acoustic specialist. This was way more enjoyable than I had expected - two long pieces - one electronica, the other guitar manipulation, both accompanied by his own cut-up movies.

9.  Wolf Eyes, Belfast Pavilion, 18th June 2005
This should have been the noise highlight of the year but Hrvatski pipped it, mainly because Wolf Eyes thought we weren't into it because a lot of people left and the ones who stayed weren't raucous enough. I kind of accepted it more as powerful ambient noise rather than something you could mosh to. Whatever, I enjoyed it, and they won't be back!

10.=  Hot Snakes, Belfast Limelight, 28th May 2005
An intense, classic punk rock n roll performance, especially memorable now that they called it a day at the end of this tour.
10.=  Wedding Present, Belfast Spring and Airbrake, February 2005
This would have been higher if it REALLY was a reformed Wedding Present, instead the show was faithful to the recent 'Take Fountain' album - more like Cinerama gone dark than classic Weddoes. Not much wrong with that, and the last 30 minutes or so did revisit past glories.

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