Bristol live music best of 2012

26 12 2012

1) Africa Express, Big Top @ Creative Common; September 7
More than four hours of music was an immensely pleasurable treat, with nobody – not even those on stage – entirely sure what would be happening next. Damon Albarn kept a mostly low profile, but appeared for one highlight when he played On Melancholy Hill by Gorillaz on the piano accompanied by Malian singer Rokia Traore. Earlier in the day, Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones had turned up unannounced to play a gig in the Canteen on Stokes Croft.

Africa Express arrive at Bristol Temple Meads

2) Bat For Lashes, Anson Rooms; November 3
Natasha Khan is the closest thing to a Kate Bush for the 21st century. This was an exceptional gig from an exceptional talent. When not singing, Khan was either dancing or playing a variety of instruments, from piano to hand bells. For one song, she held a transistor radio above her head like a victorious FA Cup Final captain. For another she got the most cheers for shaking a maraca since Bez from the Happy Mondays.

3) Skrillex, Academy; February 15
A multi-sensory bombardment from start to finish, like being repeatedly run over by a steam train in the midst of an alien invasion during a particularly ferocious thunderstorm. Behind Skrillex, visuals on a large screen accompanied his bone-shaking beats, while flashing strobe lights, lasers and smoke only added to the experience.

4) Bellowhead, Colston Hall; November 18
The folk juggernaut that is Bellowhead have been booked to play New Year’s Eve at the Colston Hall next year. Last month, the band carried on their gig up the road at the Colston Yard pub. This was music so good, nobody wanted it to end.

5) Three Cane Whale, The Square; June 11
The acoustic trio of Pete Judge, Paul Bradley and Alex Vann, who released one of Cerys Matthew’s top-five modern folk albums, played a fundraiser for the Bristol Pound on a multitude of unusual instruments, which was simply sublime.

6) The Staves, Louisiana; April 15
You could hear a pin drop during most of this set from the three harmonising sisters, who later went on tour with Bon Iver before returning to Bristol last month for another magical gig in the Thekla, causing many more music lovers to fall under their spell.

7) Jake Bugg, Thekla; November 15
With the current number one album, 18-year-old Bugg is the kind of artist – all jangly guitars and attitude – that had been booked to play in the Thekla months ago, before that rise to fame, and could very well have sold-out a much bigger Bristol venue.

8) Lianne La Havas, Trinity; May 5
Everyone in the crowd at the Trinity fell a little bit in love with Lianne La Havas on the first date of her UK tour. She was at her best wile on stage on her own,  looking like Janelle Monae, with a voice to match but a style akin to Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badoe.

9) Ed Sheeran, Fleece; May 23
A special one-off intimate performance from the ginger troubadour for those who had raised more than £125 for St Paul’s-based charity One25. Sheeran later played at both the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert and the Olympics closing ceremony.

10) The Unthanks, St George’s; October 30
Only an hour-long but filled with decades of history, happiness, misery and suffering, this was like nothing else in Bristol this year, soundtracking archive footage projected onto a screen behind them about the shipbuilding industry in their native North East.


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3 responses

26 12 2012
Bristol Anarchist Federation

Ours was definately the Bristol Anti Racist benefit gig, Croft, april 21st with oppressed/oi polloi/defcon zero/private gain/grand collapse and more
Six hours of awesome punk, oi and ska sets, and an absolutely electric atmostphere from start to finish. Can’t wait to see what they do for 2013s gig!
Gutted we missed africa express though, sounds like it could’ve been a contender for our number one spot aswell.

26 12 2012
Laurence

Thanks for the list but how could you miss out Rossanne Hamilton and Charlie Rose at Leftbank, May 30?

26 12 2012
Pye Dubois

In no particular order

– MFC Chicken at the Stag and Hounds
– Get The Blessing at the Canteen
– Chuck Prophet at the Tunnels
– Dan Stuart at St. Bonaventures
– Jonathan Gee at Colston Hall 2
– Lovely Eggs at the Croft and Start The Bus
– Hyde and Beast at the Thekla (amongst many at Dot to Dot)
– Stabbing A Dead Horse tour at Stag and Hounds
– BSO’s night at the movies at Colston Hall
– Jayhawks at the Academy

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