TOP TEN: Gigs in 2022

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be looking back at 2022 and looking forward to 2023 with a set of top ten lists compiled by our team of editors. 2022 has been another bizarre year, but one of the highlights has been a full year of gig-going. We look back at our favourite ten shows from the year.

Kojey RadicalKojey’s fantastic debut album had been lighting up my year for a long time when I finally got to see him do his thing on stage. The rest of the Picky Bastards editing team had been supposed to come with me, but on the day they left me standing there alone – but that was okay. The way Kojey interacts with the audience and pulls you into the stories he tells makes you feel like you’re entirely surrounded by people you know and love. And if they’d all been there, my social anxiety would probably have stopped me dancing like a loon in the way I did.

Kojey’s energy was infectious as he romped through what felt like a set by someone with years of hits behind them. My favourite moments were when he grabbed a chair for a slower song and then couldn’t keep himself still, bouncing in the seat before carrying it around the stage with him. The album is called Reason To Smile – a grin was plastered across his face all evening.

Fran Slater

ROSALÍA – I feel like a broken record on this website talking about the genre-bending Flamenco meets Reggaeton artist ROSALÍA, but for my final gig of 2022 may just have been the best of the year. I’ve never seen anyone deliver an arena show as relentless and forward-thinking as this was. A camera operator on the stage sounds like it would be super distracting and instead we get a truly intimate feel in an arena sized show. You can see and feel every moment even from the back of the venue, from the sweat of the dancers pulling off intensely difficult choreography, to the incredible vocal performance from ROSALÍA herself. The album, artist, and performer of the year, I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever seen a live show like this before; and won’t ever again.

Sam Atkins

The Avalanches – I discovered The Avalanches’ Since I Left You in my first proper desk job nearly a decade ago. It became shrouded in mystique for me. The album itself, with its thousands of obscure samples, felt like a timeless sonic escape into an untraceable paradise. The creators meanwhile, had pretty much disappeared – 2013 was 13 years after its release and we didn’t know if we’d ever hear from them again. All this is to say, the idea of ever seeing them live seemed fanciful. So seeing them in June at Manchester’s O2 Ritz – and it actually being great – was such a joy for me. The way they mixed recognisable samples into their set on the fly was really special. As they finished with ‘Since I Left You’, I took a moment to reflect – this really bloody happened.

Tom Burrows

Sinead O’Brien – Yes it’s me again going on about Sinead O’Brien. I’ve implored you to listen to her. But you really must see her too. It was her performance that struck me as much as, if not more than, her music when I first discovered her and her band. Apparently, she is a student of expressionist dance. I’ve no idea what this means but every movement about the stage seemed considered. No knee-bend was wasted or without intent. Her guitarist and drummer are brilliant musicians, and real rock stars too. It was a privilege to be one of an almost shockingly few people present at Manchester’s Deaf Institute to see it back in October. I stood right down the front, in awe.

James Spearing

Kae Tempest – This was my first big (ish) show in ages. It was the same for Kae. Debuting their new album The Line Is A Curve. We got treated to it, start to finish. And despite it being new to everyone in the room, they took us on a journey. Something the crowd was very much up for.

For those who haven’t seen Kae live, they perform with amazing gravitas. Commanding the stage. But this was the first time it felt like they were truly vulnerable. As this new album seems more revealing about Kae as a person, the authenticity is cranked up a notch compared to prior outings.

I walked away from this gig, very happy. It was a show that felt raw and a little messy at times. But nigh on impossible to not be moved by the experience.

Matt Paul

Tummyache – It feels weird to pick a support act I’d never heard of as one of my gigs of the year, but almost nothing else I saw in 2022 hit me in the gut (not a pun) in the same way as Tummyache. It was a set of only six or seven songs, but the energy and power they put into the performance was spellbinding. Gorgeous songs with spikes of punky fury, this four-piece only played in front of me for twenty-odd minutes but in that time they gained a fan who will watch them every time he possibly can. Fran Slater

Fran Slater

Lady Gaga – After years of covid associated delays, and a decade of personally nearly seeing Gaga perform before she had to cancel at the last minute, I genuinely never thought I’d get to witness her again. But there at Tottenham Hotspur stadium of all places the Chromatica album finally came alive on stage. A full on dance show, full of utterly bonkers set pieces and equally ridiculous costumes and comments from the Lady herself I found myself genuinely overwhelmed by the whole experience.

I explained exactly what Gaga has meant to me on the podcast, but I found myself emotional watching the greatest popstar of our generation singing about wanting to ride a disco stick. I had to laugh at myself in the moment, like my life had flashed before my eyes. The decades of fandom and obsession with these songs, these videos and this artist culminated in a stadium filling show that I never imagined would finally happen. Sam Atkins

Sam Atkins

Perfume Genius / Low – A shoutout for Manchester Cathedral here. I’ve lived in this city for just over 6 years now, and this year I found a new favourite venue. Having not previously been particularly bothered about the so-called ‘acoustics’ of a space, that changed when I first saw Low’s magnificent performance at the Cathedral in April, followed by Perfume Genius tearing up the stage there in August. Both shows had a fittingly spiritual air, as the cavernous space was illuminated by majestic sound and light. And with the sad loss of Mimi Parker later in the year, looking back at that show in particular feels very poignant

Tom Burrows

HAIM – This one was a bloody long time coming after several COVID-related postponements. In the interim, HAIM’s collective and individual stardom(s) had hit a whole new level. It was a horrifically hot day, not one to be stood in a soulless box brushing up against the sweat of thousands of others. But the fact that I was witnessing a now legitimately Hollywood band, within walking distance of my house, made everything else irrelevant. I surprised myself that I was excited by this. With as many HAIM albums as there are HAIM sisters, there were plenty of big tracks to throw themselves into performing. And boy did they play. The between-song patter, although much of it pre-rehearsed schtick, was super entertaining too. There were also genuinely heartfelt and powerful moments as Este photographed the whole crowd telling the US Supreme Court to fuck off in the wake of Roe v. Wade. They invited us all out to a club with them after. And even though I knew I wasn’t true, and I couldn’t go anyway, it truly felt like it could happen, and they could be our mates now. There’s something really special in their ability to connect with a crowd like that.

James Spearing

Car Seat Headrest – Well, this show was a big old party. Finally touching down in Brooklyn for 3 nights on the delayed tour for my favorite album of 2020: Making a Door Less Open. The lead singer arrived on stage as ‘Trait’, his gas-mask-wearing alter-ego to kick off a weird and atmospheric version of the song ‘Crows’. It truly underlined that they weren’t just your average indie band here to play their guitars. This was a ‘Performance’. With big bug LED eyes that matched their oversized lighting rig, and choreographed dance moves. They were all-in. The result was a fun and energetic tour de force through hit after hit. Absolute must-see.

Matt Paul

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