20. Franz Ferdinand (26th November) – Ok so perhaps the hype has gone a little out of control, but there is no denying that an evening with Franz Ferdinand promises style and swagger, and this delivered plenty of both. They also had the absolute BEST video screens I’ve ever seen at a concert and they paced the show very well (meaning that they spread out their best songs). HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Take Me Out (much like it was last year).
19. Natasha Bedingfield (1st March) – Oh no, we don’t want to see her supporting Sheryl Crow. Erm, wait a minute, she’s not that bad, lets go and watch her. Yes, and that was ALL my fault I would admit. She is very underrated for sure, and this was a good night of sing-a-long fun. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Probably her version of This Love. Maroon 5 have never sounded so good.
18. REM etc. (17th June) – The big event of the summer, being as it was something of an all-dayer. Idlewild stole the show for me. Feeder were a bit subdued and The Zutons were, well, a bit rubbish. As for Michael Stipe and the boys, they were good and rattled through most of the hits and did it with aplomb. Although really, having now seen them once I don’t really think I’ll ever feel the need to do the experience again. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Losing My Religion
17. Lucie Silvas (6th November) – Oh Lucie. You’re not all that bad are you? Can’t say I was, or indeed am, over-enamoured with her stuff, but you can’t deny that she can belt a tune or two out. As certain people have pointed out as well, she didn’t look half bad up there on stage. Still, I could have done without the Coldplay cover. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Nothing Else Matters
16. Supergrass (9th October) – Having been so cruelly, and painfully, denied the opportunity to see them do an acoustic set earlier in the year, it was nice to be able to see the ‘Grass in all their plugged in glory. Support act Son Of Dave was one of the worst of the year, but the main event was worth enduring that. They didn’t play a couple of classics, probably because they don’t like them now or something, but that didn’t overly hurt the overall impression. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Richard III
15. Fun Lovin Criminals (17th September) – You know what you’re getting with an FLC show, and this didn’t disappoint. Ok, so there were a few too many songs of the latest album, and they all seemed to be lumped together, but once you’re bouncing along to the likes of Scooby Snacks, The Fun Lovin’ Criminal and Love Unlimited who cares? And Huey is STILL the coolest man on the planet. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Scooby Snacks
14. Shakin Stevens (27th November) – In the words of that dull metal group, it’s been a while, but the Shaky bandwagon was back in town. And as the great man might say himself, Rock ‘N’ Roll never goes out of fashion and this was a top-notch night. Granted, Shaky was a little bit croaky in the first half (but still belted out one hell of a show) but after some half-time interval herbal tea (or something) Shaky was in full voice for the second half, which saw many ladies who should know a lot better whoop themselves into a frenzy! Shaky’s still got it. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; With My Heart.
13. Editors (28th September) – Finally Gee gets something right!!! I still don’t think the Editors are the best things since sliced bread, but they are very good…especially when you catch them live. This was basically the album done live, but even the weaker album tracks were pumped up with a sense of clarity that the Dean enjoyed. And I am going watching them again in 2006, so that says it all doesn’t it? HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Sparks.
12. The Like (12th November)– Confession time. I nearly forgot to put this is, so apologies to Nine Black Alps (who were down at 20 until I realised my error) but this concert had to go in the list somewhere. To be honest, I can’t remember all that much about it as a concert, but I can remember that it was quality, and that I recognised a fair few of the tunes. AND I met the three lovely ladies afterwards. Which was nice…no, actually, it was bloody lovely. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Erm, What I Say And What I Mean is pretty good isn’t it? Or maybe the highlight was Tennessee “maybe knowing” where Wigan was/is! :D
11. Aimee Mann (15th July) – She’s not toured for ages, and certainly not when I could go to it, so it was with great excitement that I trundled up to this concert. And I was not disappointed. Even though the set-list was heavily favoured towards her latest (somewhat average) album, there were enough of her old classics to make this a night to remember. And perhaps it’s a testimony to her continued brilliance that songs from right across her impressive back catalogue were all met with warm audience applause. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Driving Sideways
10. Ben Folds (15th December) – In some ways it may be a bit of a surprise that this is not higher up. After all it was a top quality night all round (Gee getting the come on from the ladies in the restaurant, getting to meet more of the Tunstallation Nation) and it was a great concert (as you would expect). And anything in the top 10 this year was excellent, but when it comes down to it I cannot justify it going any higher. I suppose its my slight disappointment that he didn’t do more Ben Folds Five stuff. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Bizarre Christmas Incident.
9. Jem (4th December) – See this is an example of letting other people’s feelings put you off something slightly. I’d heard some bad reports about Jem’s supposed lack of “live” singing voice, and it had slightly dampened my expectations about the concert. But, once she kicked off it was full on happy, happy, joy, joy all the way. She sure knows how to write a catchy tune, and she’d assembled a great band to play them. Forget the doubters, this girl is here for the long-haul, trust me! HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; They
8. Girls Aloud (27th May) – Now you see this is a perfect example of how many intangibles go into making a ranking list like this. If this was done purely on “musical worthiness” this would be lower down the list, but if it was done on pure enjoyment it could probably be top 5 material no doubt. Quite frankly, if you were looking for an all-out pop extravaganza in 2005, then you didn’t need to look any further than Girls Aloud. All their hits were belted out in great style and there was just enough costume changes to keep me entertained. Throw in the front row seats in Liverpool and you have one hell of a night to remember. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Girls Allowed (funnily enough, considering the album version is a bit pants).
7. The Subways (2nd November) – We saw them before the album release earlier in the year, and then they cancelled on us in the mid-summer. But The Subways made up for any earlier disappointments with this absolutely cracking concert. They’re hardly pushing back the musical boundaries, but they do what they do with an energy and youthfulness that all too easily seduces you. This was a full-tempo, loud noise shebang all the way and was one of those concert nights that just flew by. And it didn’t hurt that Charlotte is a “little firecracker” either did it? HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Mary.
6. The Donnas (7th March) – Oh they broke my heart last year (or may it even have been 2003…in fact I think it probably must have been) when they cancelled their UK tour, but they finally came back to make it up to me. Scary rumours about more band ill-health left me fearing the worst, but when the time came, the shackles of flu were thrown off by the lovely Brett. This was another rockin’ night, and whilst some of my favourite tracks by the girls were missing, there was such a varied choice from their back catalogue that there wasn’t a duff song in the set. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Take It Off
5. Weezer (25th August) – I still harbour a small grudge over the ticket prices for this (not the most expensive ever on the whole, but still by far the most I’ve ever had to spend in Manchester Academy) but really, when a concert is as good as this one there really is little point in complaining. Quite frankly this was a brilliant concert from start to finish, and, as any of the top 5 could have done this year, could have come out on top in this list. Virtually ignoring their latest album (only 4 tracks from it) Rivers and the boys proceeded to belt out classic after classic from their extensive back catalogue, which gave the night a feeling of a “greatest hits” concert. Add in the fact that I’d had a few and was dancing like a loon all night with Xavi and you have a truly memorable night out. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; El Scorchio
4. KT Tunstall (18th February) – Oh back in the days when really I’d only bought her album on a whim and not having many concerts lined up I decided to grab a pair of tickets to this. I am so glad I did. Whilst subsequent Tunstall concerts (and there were three more in the year) suffered mildly from repetition and having too much of a good thing, nothing could sully this first night. A small, intimate venue. Me and Gee being very drunk. And a concert which just blew me away. Before this night I’d feared KT might have been another one of those great artists I discover who then disappear, but after this night I knew I was safe and that KT was going to go places. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Black Horse & The Cherry Tree
3. Laura Veirs (11th October) – See this is the kind of concert I probably wouldn’t have gone to this time last year, but the concert bug well and truly got me and I began to actively seek out strange and wonderful acts to go and watch. Her Year Of Meteors album blew me away and despite the fact that this concert probably had THE worst support act of the year (and that terrible moment of horror when you realise that he’s also part of her band), what followed was nothing short of brilliant. Of course she’ll never make it “big” but who cares? HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Spelunking, which was pretty “atmospheric”.
2. Suzanne Vega/Nerina Pallot (22nd June) – Whilst I suppose any of the top 5 could have sat happily at the top of the list, when it REALLY came down to it, it was only between this one and the next one for the ultimate honour. Vega’s decision to completely by-pass the North West of England actually worked out rather well as we decamped to Coventry (a trip that effectively became my “holiday” for 2005) and the rather delightful Warwick Arts Centre. I did think about splitting this concert into two in terms of this list, but in the end went for the joint thing. First up was Nerina, and I don’t think she’s ever been in better form (at least when I have seen her) than she was that night. It was the only time I’ve seen her when there wasn’t a load of people jibber-jabbering away during her set. And I really don’t think there was a person in the audience who didn’t like what they heard. Throw in the photo opportunity during the interval (complete with the now legendary “you miss Suzanne Vega if you don’t hurry up” conversation), me using my “celebrity contacts” to get Gee a special birthday message and me feeling like a proud parent when all her CD’s sold out then you already have a special night. But then it (almost) got better…despite Nerina’s prediction that I’d miss the start proving true and me missing half my favourite Vega song “Marlene On The Wall.” Still, she’s another funny woman and put on a great show, including singing songs so new that she had to have the lyric sheets in front of her. At the time I thought I couldn’t possibly leave a concert in 2005 as happy again, but I was just about wrong…. HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; For Nerina it was Damascus, for Suzanne it was probably Tom’s Diner, because Greg Rusedski got quite animated during that.
1. Martha Wainwright (18th November) – Ultimately, when it was all said and done, I couldn’t look any further than this for the best concert of the year. This was the perfect example of not having a clue what to expect when walking in, and walking out convinced you’d just seen something of rare splendour. She’s nuts, make no bones about it, but she also put on not only one of the most musically exciting shows I’ve ever seen…she was funny and smart to boot. She also got the crowd warbling like Native Indians, got a woman out of the crowd to sing backing, and cut songs off in the middle of a verse because she had some wisdom to impart. She also was having so much fun during her “solo” section that the concert over-ran by about 15 minutes when all was said and done. This was the sort of great evening that concert-going was invented for. This wasn’t only the best concert of 2005, this was also one of the best concerts I’ve EVER been to. And you don’t get a much better recommendation than that do you. Well maybe other than the fact I met her afterwards and she was a real sweetheart. Ready Steady Cook awaits!!! HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT; Me being chatted up by Alison Goldfr…no, wait. It was Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole.