TOP TEN: Gigs that better bastard happen in 2021

We continue our fortnight of top tens looking back at 2020 and looking forward to 2021:

Gigs. Remember them? Here are the ones we’ve been holding onto tickets for, praying we’ll be standing behind tall people and complaining about the sound in the venue again as soon as possible:

Fran: I’m a fucking Key Worker, don’t you know? Well, maybe not in the definition given by that mop-haired muppet that apparently runs our country, but definitely in the minds of one of the most exciting bands of the last two years.

When Fontaines DC included those working in mental health in the list of people eligible for free tickets to their May I jumped at the opportunity. They have released one of my favourite albums of 2020 and as the first gig that is currently in my 2021 calendar, I can’t think of a better way to get back in the middle of a sweaty crowd and sing my heart out. Vaccinate me now.

James: Kelly Lee Owens’ tour has been rescheduled about four times. That is too many times. TOO MANY TIMES. The Manchester gig will now be at the Ritz, which is good on one hand, because it’s bigger, but on the other hand it’s a shame we won’t get to see her at YES, or Gorilla. And she could even be touring a whole new album by the time it happens, which is good on one hand, because it’s a new album, but on the other hand it’s a shame we won’t get to see the Inner Voice tour. It will now be in November 2021, which is good on one hand, because November is the correct time for going to gigs, but on the other hand WHY AM I TALKING MYSELF OUT OF THIS IT’S KLO IT’S GOING TO BE AMAZING AAAAAARRRGH WHY WHY WHY STUPID COVID I WANT KLO NOWWWWWWW

Sam: A set of gigs that were supposed to happen before the world went into a lock-down, Michael Kiwanuka had to originally reschedule after being too sick to perform and obviously hasn’t been able to yet. I have banged on about KIWANUKA as an album so bloody much over the last year and the fact I still haven’t been able to see Michael perform any of this music live yet is super irritating. This will supposedly be my first gig back, but March 29th? Not a chance gigs will be happening by then…

Fran: The last time I saw Bon Iver they played a greatest hits style show, and then randomly played a video of a new song called ‘Hey Ma’ to finish his set. The next day Justin announced i,i. Their fourth album featured some of my favourite work by them so far and when they announced a show at Manchester Arena I considered it for about sixteen seconds and then got out the credit card. I needed to see those songs live.

I’m still waiting. This has been rescheduled so many times now that I can’t even remember when it is anymore; but whenever this show finally happens I’ll be there, a smile on my face and 100 tears cascading down my cheeks.

James: I have banged on about Roisin quite a bit this year, but with good reason. She’s been on my ‘must see’ list for years. It nearly happened in 2020 at Bluedot, but then all the festivals got cancelled. I’ve watched a lot of her music (and her being generally daft and entertaining) online from her living room this year. She knows how to put on a show even in that small space. With a whole stage at her disposal, and well over a year from album release to showtime to prepare, I’m expecting big things.

Sam: One of 2020’s true breakout stars hasn’t even had chance to do a single show since all of us finally started paying attention and if I don’t get to see Rina Sawayama perform most of her debut album in November I will be fuming. She has been delivering countless amazing live streamed and tv show performances over the last 12 months, but without a festival season she was surely going to be the star of, it feels she still hasn’t had chance to properly impact. Her Manchester gig is on my 30th Birthday as well! If I have to come to terms with no longer being able to claim I’m a ‘young person’ then I want to do it while screaming along to ‘STFU!’ and ‘XS’ at Albert Hall.

Fran: I’m booked in to see the boys three times this year (all rescheduled from 2020), so I suppose this should count as three gigs that better bastard happen in 2021. That said, I already know I can’t make two of them.

So the gig that I really, desperately, passionately hope happens this year is The Twilight Sad at Liverpool’s Art’s Club on May 28. If I’m being honest, May feels like it might be too early and this will likely face a further date change – but there isn’t a single more exciting prospect for me than the Scottish doomsters being the first thing I see on a stage in more than a year. I would scream my fucking lungs out. They’re the best live band in the game and all four of my favourite 2019 gigs were theirs…

James: We know they’re not our friends, but The Big Moon have a knack of making you feel like they are. I feel like I’ve missed them. And I can’t hang out with them and drink red wine mixed with cola until…well who knows? Sadly, March seems optimistic now. Fingers crossed.

Fran: Come on Billy Nomates, let’s fucking have it. One of mine and James’s favourite discoveries of 2020, it feels totally unnatural to me to have loved a debut album so much and not yet seen the act who made it in a live setting. And Billy is made for a live show in 2021. Acerbic, angry, and hilarious – the songs on this album but would be the perfect remedy to all of the pent up anger that watching the Tories fuck us over repeatedly in the last few months has created. I need to shout the words back at her while she darts around the stage. Now.

Tom: Back in the halcyon days of 2019, I really enjoyed Thom Yorke’s solo album, ANIMA. So much in fact that when Fran floated the idea of getting tickets to his Manchester show in June 2020, I decided to get involved (despite the inflated ticket price).

Fast forward to the Covid era. A calendar notification lit up my phone screen: ‘Tomorrow: Thom Yorke at 8:00PM’. I sighed. I took a screenshot. Just in case, I asked, ‘did this get rescheduled?’. ‘Don’t remind me. Yes, it did,’ came the familiar, inevitable response. ‘When will things get back to normal?’ I asked myself. And this was only June.

If this goes on any longer, some of these album promotional cycle gigs will become classic album commemorations…

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