The ten best gigs of the year by Purple Revolver snapper Frank Ralph

Posted on 29 December 2016
By Frank Ralph
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Of all the gigs and shows I went to this year, 10 of them stood out, here are my ten best gigs of 2016.

Beyonce @ LCCC, Manchester

Beyonce absolutely slayed with her show at Lancashire Cricket Club in July. With many tracks from her best album to date ‘Lemonade’ she brought a sound that was actually heavier than a lot of the rock shows I saw this year and the likes of Formation and Freedom sounded huge. All the routines and visuals were designed to blow minds and they did. She proved she was still on top of her game and cemented her position as the Queen of pop music.

Iggy Pop @ Royal Albert Hall

Iggy Pop turned the Royal Albert Hall into CBGB’s for one a one-off UK show on his Post Pop Depression tour. Backed by his band which included Josh Homme and Arctic Monkey’s Matt Helders they played new tracks and old classics with Iggy displaying as much energy and punk spirit as he did in his early career. They made the gig feel so intimate and Iggy spent most of the show in or on the crowd. A highlight of the year which has since been released as a live DVD.

The Stone Roses @ Halifax Victoria Theatre

This was mental. It was a small warm-up show for their Etihad shows a week later and tickets went on sale from the venue only on the Saturday morning. You had to turn up with an album a piece of merch or shirt and queue up at the venue to get your ticket. I only found out via a Facebook message from a friend and rushed around trying to find an old album or something I could use to get a ticket. Unbelievably I managed to get 4 standing tickets and enjoyed one of the best gigs of the year with some really good friends. They sounded amazing and even though everybody slags Ian Brown’s voice off he only went a bit dodgy once all night. Also, the crowd singing I Am The Resurrection still gives me goosebumps when I think about it.

Clutch @ Manchester Academy

You may have seen I reviewed the Cardiff show, but the Manchester one the night after was probably even better. I had originally planned to go to all 4 UK shows, I’m a bit of a Clutch nut, but due to illness I only made the last two – I’m convinced they were the best of them all. Each member of the band take it in turns to choose setlist so you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a completely different show night after night. Manchester probably had the most dynamic setlist of the tour and with it being the final show of the tour had an added feeling of excitement to it. For an hour and a half Clutch put on a masterclass in putting a show on. The Mob Goes Wild and Gravel Road were amazing and as the last gig of the year it was a perfect way to end 2016.

Bloodstock Festival

Catton Park played host to the best festival of the year in my opinion with headline sets from Slayer, Mastadon and a tear-jerking farewell from Twisted Sister. It’s such a good festival – the perfect size, great people and a real feel of community about it. They opened the Lemmy Bar and had Kraken Ice cream but the absolute highlight of the weekend was discovering Vodun. A rock group with soul who blew me away – check them out. Stand out sets from Corrosion of Conformity and Anthrax were also highlights. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Terrorvision @ Bingley Arts Centre

I’ve probably seen Terrorvision over 70 times in the last 20 years and they never disappoint. This was a local show on Valentine’s Day and I managed to get a pass out from the missus for it. There was so much energy in the room for this gig from both the audience and the band with Tony Wright bouncing around all over the place for the whole show. New music would be an absolute godsend but for as long as they go out and play all the hits I will always go and see this band live. I’m always guaranteed a fun night.

The Cure @ Manchester Arena

Arena shows are quite often a disappointment. They’re often too big for many bands, there’s not enough atmosphere or it’s just really expensive and they don’t live up to the promise. The Cure suffered from none of this. Tickets had been delivered a year in advance of the show and that had meant I’d completely forgotten where I’d put them right up until the night before the gig when they turned up after having ransacked the house trying to find them. I wish they had played Love Cats, a lot of people did, but everything they played sounded amazing and at least I got my 2 favourite Cure track A Forest and Burn (from The Crow) – also the encore was truly incredible with hit after hit after hit. Relentless.

Hands Off Gretel @ The Parish, Huddersfield
I’d discovered Hands Off Gretel earlier in the year and when I saw they were playing a tiny venue on my doorstep it was a no brainer. A proper grunge band from Barnsley fronted by the amazing Lauren Tate. They were extremely loud and extremely good. Lauren has these kind of crazy eyes that stop you in your tracks and voice that just sends shivers down your spine, the whole band are brilliant and so is their Burn The Beauty Queen album. They seemed to be on tour for ages at the end of the year but this was the only time I managed to see them. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see more of them next year.

Beck @ Albert Hall, Manchester

Holy cow this was a great gig. I’ve seen Beck a few times both as the kind of restrained singer-songwriter and also as the James Brown-esque soul superstar, both were great but the energy he has when he is in James Brown mode is incredible. His show in Manchester was all about the energy and it was one of those hot, sweaty shows where you dance like a lunatic all night. Absolutely brilliant. We also had Badly Drawn Boy as a very special support which added even more to the night.

Hot 8 Brass Band @ Band on the Wall, Manchester

You may have heard their version of Sexual Healing. If you haven’t go and listen to it now, it’s brilliant. This show was all about fun. All 8 of the band were crammed onto a tiny stage and just went for it. They put the fun in funky! I’m amazed they’re not playing bigger venues to be honest. They’re the kind of band like Ozomatli that will just put a big smile on your face.

I’m looking forward to what 2017 brings in terms of shows and live entertainment.