2017 delivered denizens of Sheffield, the UK and the world over with some of the most exciting music tours of the decade. From the triumphant return of the celebrated genre-mixing project Gorillaz to exciting performances from emergent bands, the year has unfailingly delivered a feast of gigs and concerts designed for every music taste – a rich panoply of which we, a team of music lovers, have taken full advantage
Following some seriously arduous soul-searching, we have compiled our ten favourite performances from the last 12 months, we invite you – our most venerated readership – to embark on our magical tour of the best gigs of 2017!
10. Floodhounds @ Café Totem, Sheffield
It is difficult not to love Floodhounds. Sheffield’s own indie rock trio exhibit a joyous amount of blues-esque guitars and fast-paced choruses that inevitably become audience pleasers. The troupe of players knew precisely how to garner audience approval through creativity and a palpable sense of liveliness, with the necessary addition of a pair of dancing robots, of course.
9. Swans @ Plug, Sheffield
One of those gigs that you experience rather than simply watch. Playing for just shy of three hours, Swans played approximately 6 songs at an almost uncomfortable volume. This may not sound a lot of fun, but the whole powerful and overwhelming show was truly something unforgettable, with never a dull moment.
8. Sleeptalking @ Café Totem, Sheffield
Hailing from Bristol, Sleeptalking are an alt-rock 5 piece who produce a surprisingly flamboyant show. The West Country players created an eccentric and wonderful without diluting the grungy style that initially thrust the band into the post Rock and roll limelight. Amidst the captivating melodies shone lead vocalist Tom Nosek, particularly the numerous leaps he made from the speaker into the crowd.
7. Ortega/Archelon/Battalions @ Record Junkee, Sheffield
Holy Spider Promotions pulled it out of the bag for their best show of the year here. Hull’s Battalions brought their best dirtied sludge riffs and shrieks, home talent Archelon brought their trademark monolithic wall of sound and mighty triple guitar tone with Holland’s Ortega mixing huge riffs and crushing post-metal textures to end a supreme night of heaviness.
6. Father John Misty @ Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Enter an utterly magical night brightened by a full moon and the undeniable majesty of the greatest living performer on the planet, Father John Misty. During his set, the man/singer/songwriter/poet/musical genius/demi god, imparted his wisdom and intellect upon us all and cleansed our souls with a masterful performance.
5. October Drift @ The Foundry, University of Sheffield Students’ Union
This rising 4-piece indie band from Taunton has already established a firm fan-base in Sheffield, having performed an array of sell-out shows over the past two years. Every gig delivers a memorable and unique experience to its viewers – and my visit to see the band live was no different. The troupe of rockers imbued every track with a mesmerising amount of passion, energy and movement; their atmospheric vocals and fuzzy guitars loud enough to burst an eardrum.
4. Devin Townsend Project @ The Roman Theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
One set of fan-requested tracks from Devin’s 30 year career accompanied by a full symphony orchestra and choir, followed by a full playthrough of landmark debut solo album Ocean Machine, all in the incredible surroundings of a 1st Century Roman theatre on a cool Bulgarian evening. Light and shade, emotion and silliness, it’s all here.
3. Gorillaz @ Manchester Arena
Having been practically raised on the soundtrack to Damon Albarn’s musical zenith, I made no apologies for reciting every track (verbatim, obviously) when I saw them live. With each song performed against a backdrop portraying artist Jamie Hewlett’s famous illustrations of the characters that comprise the virtual aspect of the band, the collaborative force that is The Gorillaz illustrated its philosophical, as well as musical, genius.
2. Hairband @ The Old Hairdressers, Glasgow
Newcomers Hairband blossomed in an onstage performance rivalling the greatest performers that the world has ever known. Envisage a sweaty room bursting with expectant listeners, a prestigious venue and a band exuding fervent enthusiasm and awesome talent on a relatively small stage. Intense, stiflingly warm and intimate, it contained the right components for a life-affirming gig.
1. Kamasi Washington @ Stylus, University of Leeds Students’ Union
Kamasi Washington demonstrated his unassailable talent as a saxophonist, performer and all-round ruler of the stage in the most unlikely of venues, the ‘clubbing wing’ of the University of Leeds’ students’ union. An auditory and performative tapestry of epic proportions – one intricately woven with charm, wit and a plethora of imposing skills – Washington and his team transformed a bare room into a house of liveliness.