Having had the pleasure of seeing both Bon Iver and Matt Corby live in the past couple of weeks I have found myself reflecting on twelve months of gig-going and the best live tracks I’ve seen during that time.
In that period I have seen James Vincent McMorrow at the Queen’s Hall Edinburgh supported by Lindi Ortega, Ben Howard at the Riverside in Newcastle supported by Lucy Rose, Matt Corby topping the bill at one of Communion record label’s host evenings at the Notting Hill Arts Club, Bon Iver at Wembley supported by The Staves and then Matt Corby again, this time at a headline show supported by Lucy Mason and Bear’s Den.
Within these shows there have been special moments by the barrel-load and all-in-all very little to complain about. I have in the past been to a few underwhelming gigs but those which I have been to over the last year haven’t let me down in the slightest and if anything have far exceeded expectations.
So, in tribute, to I have put together a little album/playlist of the best live tracks I have seen at the shows I’ve been to over the year…
Bon Iver – Perth
This opened their Wembley set and the live performance gave a whole new dimension to their prog-rock inspired second album, the self titled Bon Iver.
Ben Howard – The Wolves
This is perhaps Ben’s most well-known and well-loved single and it didn’t disappoint live and had the entire crowd howling back at him.
James Vincent McMorrow – From the Woods
Before seeing him live From the Woods was far from being one of my favourite songs from James’ debut album but after seeing him and his brilliant band playing it in Edinburgh it soon became a firm favourite.
Matt Corby – Made of Stone
I have now had the pleasure of seeing Matt play this liver twice and on each occasion he played a totally different version. The second time I saw him play it was at SCALA and he played it with the accompaniment of the band but the first time he played it he performed alone with just his piano for company and it was stunning.
Bon Iver (feat. The Staves) – RE: Stacks
This has always been my favourite track from their first album and hearing Justin Vernon play it live was a pretty special moment for me and having support act The Staves on backing vocals made it even better still.
The Staves – Facing West
A three-piece female, folk-harmony group doesn’t exactly sound like a formula for filling an arena as huge as Wembley but their performance was surprisingly brilliant.
Lucy Rose – Shiver
Like The Staves at Wembley little Lucy Rose didn’t exactly seem suited to the venue she was playing, The Riverside in Newcastle, but this track stood out in her stint supporting Ben Howard.
Ben Howard – Black Flies
Easily dismissed as “just another bloke with a guitar”, Black Flies proves exactly why Ben Howard is so much more than that. Dark, intense and evocative, this was a song that came to life on the stage.
Bon Iver – Creature Fear
This song is an understated effort from their first album but at Wembley the arena-filling chorus contrasted brilliantly with the low-key verses and proved a great link between their first and second albums.
Matt Corby – Brother
His most celebrated work to date. This track is tinged with regret and harks back to masters of the genre, namely Jeff Buckley, and there are also comparisons in the vocal delivery to be made to Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon fame.
James Vincent McMorrow – Higher Love
Just prior to this song bursting into prominence courtesy of the LOVEfilm advert, I saw James play this in solo mode at the Queen’s Hall Edinburgh and it was at the time a startling version of Steve Winwood’s cheesy 80’s pop hit.
Alexander Wolfe – Stuck in September
Playing as part of the bill at Communion record label’s regular slot at the Notting Hill Arts Club, Alexander Wolfe lulled the crowd into a mild stupor with this gentle and somewhat haunting offering. Granted, his sets will never be thrill a minute but he certainly has his appeal.
Matt Corby – Kings, Queens, Beggars and Thieves
This makes the cut purely on grounds that it is a personal favourite of mine. I wasn’t expecting it to be on the set-list but it was and it would be fair to say I was pretty chuffed.
James Vincent McMorrow – Wicked Game (Chris Isaak’s cover)
Stunning. Need I say more?
Bon Iver – The Wolves (Acts I and III)
This first-album-favourite from the Wisconsin folk-sters formed part of their encore and it provided the sort of stunning and dramatic ending the brilliant show deserved.