Christine and the Queens – Apollo – 04/11/2016

I felt at the time that this was my favourite musical night of the year and I still feel the same way. Review here.

Grant-Lee Phillips – The Deaf Institute – 30/04/2016

My abiding memory of this one is Phillips attaching a capo to his guitar for the coda to ‘Lone Star Song’ without missing a beat in a captivating rendition. If memory serves, virtually all of the songs from Grant Lee Buffalo’s Fuzzy and Mighty Joe Moon albums were performed on the night, in a set that was almost too crowd-pleasing (if that’s even possible).

PJ Harvey – Victoria Warehouse – 03/11/2016

It is only now that I have seen Harvey’s band live that I have been able to really embrace and appreciate Let England Shake and The Hope Six. I had previously been lukewarm to those records, but the performances that night were stirring and inspirational, with a seven- or eight-piece band providing varied instrumentation, before we were treated towards the end of the set to classics like ’50ft Queenie’ and ‘To Bring You My Love’.


Kate Bush – Before the Dawn

It’s December and so it’s usually nice to snuggle down all cosy at home with Kate Bush’s winter-warmer record 50 Words for Snow, but this year we have the gift of this lovely live album (KATE BUSH LIVE?!) as a hibernation companion. Who’d have thought it? And how lucky we are after all these years! The suite of songs that makes up ‘The Ninth Wave’ is wonderfully recreated live. Album taster: And Dream of Sheep

case/lang/veirs – case/lang/veirs

I might have seen Neko Case’s band live more often than any other by this point, and though she’s usually fiercely independent, given the camaraderie she has with musicians on stage, it’s no surprise to hear her collaborate so well here with k.d. lang and Laura Veirs. The three women have poured so much inspiration into this record. Album taster: Song for Judee

Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth

This record could also be entitled ‘Simpson’s guide to American soul, rock ‘n’ roll and country’ as he takes us all over the map, even seeming to combine all three styles seamlessly on the album’s opening track. There are eight Simpson originals here, with a soulful cover of Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’ in the middle. The record wraps up with ‘Call to Arms’, goofball rave-up with lyrics about dying in foreign wars. Album taster: In Bloom


Mitski – ‘A Burning Hill’

This is among the more understated songs on Mitski’s 2016 record Puberty 2, but it’s one where lyrics, melody, production and performance combine in a magical way on a track I find particularly affecting as it closes the album. My favourite track (and video) of the year.

The Cut Ups – ‘Thomas Orchard Is No Longer Around’

This track from Exeter punks The Cut Ups has a melody that has hardly left my head since I first heard it. After a gig I found myself chatting with band member Pippa Wragg-Smith, who explained that the song is about a schizophrenic man who died in police custody in their hometown.

Drive-By Truckers – ‘Sun Don’t Shine’

This year’s Drive-By Truckers album is preoccupied by the appalling gun culture in the U.S., but I like this track as the midway point where the album pauses to breathe and find some healing in nature. The song’s simple construction, spare instrumentation and clean-air vocals have the desired effect: some respite from the senseless violence.

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Steve Jones

Apart from about five years in total, I've always lived in Manchester. Shame about the weather and lack of beach, but I do like it here. My all-time favourite gig would have to be The National at the Academy in about 2010, although I did get Matt Berninger's mic cable wrapped around my neck (that was a close one). My guilty pleasures include the music of Bruce Springsteen, and I also felt a bit bad for feeling such joy at seeing Counting Crows live in the early 2000s. I recommend Lifter Puller, a rather obnoxious and unpleasant-sounding band that I can't seem to get enough of, even though they are long disbanded. Amongst my Silent Radio gigs, I was blown away by John Murry. I'll let you know if anything tops that one.