The Top Ten

Before WordPress I had a blog on the photosharing site but that mysteriously disappeared without warning (and the domain name has since resurfaced as something else entirely). One of the posts I published was my all time top 10 concerts, I think it might even have sown the seed in my mind for starting this blog, which was initially for gig reviews and little else. Then the gigs got more and more scarce but my appetite for writing stayed healthy so I’ve tried to launch other blogs, but I can never really sustain the same enthusiasm levels as I can when going on about music. So, I am re-hashing blog posts from history now. I know the top 5 probably hasn’t changed since I wrote this the first time (7 years ago maybe?) but maybe the rest has. Who knows.

Here are my top ten gigs in ascending order from 10

10 Hawkwind @ Fairfield Halls, 1989

Difficult to choose a best one of 3 or 4 excellent Hawkwind gigs, but this was the first one. I only knew half of the songs in those days, so a lot of it was a journey of discovery.

9  Datsuns @ The Astoria, 2002

As with #10, the first of several epic performances. They’ve never put in a less than amazing show, but the first time will always be the greatest. One of the very  best live acts on the circuit, even now.

8  Queens Of The Stone Age @ The Forum, 2002

Awesome due to the fact that I only knew the first 3 or 4 tracks off Songs For The Deaf, and the rest of it blew me away completely. I scarcely listen to them any more, which definitely makes this gig the odd one out on this list.

7  Def Leppard @ Brixton Academy, 2003

The very best of big hair and spandex rock, American stylee. The consummate professionals, made me wonder why I’d never seen them before. I’d go and see them again, I really would.

6  Dandy Warhols @ Brixton Academy, 2003

Much better than I expected them to be. I thought they’d be all sloppy and stoned and shit but they are incredibly tight (for a tripped out jam band).

5  Muse @ Big Day Out, 2007

Awesomeness abounds. Hideous environs, awful festival saved by a great performance.

4  Rush @ Wembley Arena, 1992

My heroes. Possibly the best sound I’ve ever heard at Wembley (to put it another way, possibly the only time it hasn’t been shit). They were just so fucking good.

3  Porcupine Tree @ Bloomsbury Theatre, 1999

Reignited a love affair with the works of Steven Wilson that had taken a bit of a back seat while rave happened. There is very little he has ever been involved in that I don’t absolutely adore. I probably listen to his stuff more than Rush or Nada Surf, even.

2  Nada Surf @ ULU, 2003

They taunted me by not playing again in the UK during the 2 1/2 years I lived there after this. Now Matthew Caws lives there and they play there (relatively) regularly and I know I’ll probably never see them again, much as I would like to.

1  Metallica @ Hammersmith Odeon, 1988

Best because of what it meant to me, as well as the fact that Metallica fucking kick ass live. I have since passed up the opportunity to see them in Christchurch, I would definitely see them if they played in Dunedin (as has been rumoured once) but that’s about it. It’s all about the time and the place.


The top 3 or 4 are never likely to change (especially not now I live in Dunedin!) but the rest are somewhat fluid and there are a few at the lower reaches of the top ten that might drop out in favour of others, depending on mood, what I’m listening to when you ask me etc etc. NMA hasn’t quite made the cut, neither has Maiden or Sabbath. Oh the fickleness of Aoide (the muse of song, classics nerds)

I haven’t included any electronic acts, as the circumstances in which I saw them make it less easy to be objective about things (i.e. I was trolleyed) but Orbital or Eat Static at Brixton might have made the cut on another day, as might The Orb. If I wrote a list of top 10 most trolleyed gigs then they’d definitely be on it.

I have tickets to see The Cult and Steven Wilson in the next couple of months. I would be very surprised if Astbury & Duffy came anywhere near getting themselves on this list, but I would be mildly disappointed if Steven Wilson doesn’t disturb the order of things. To say I am looking forward to that one is something of an understatement. I’m flying up to Auckland on my own for that one…


The Dandy Warhols – 01/12/03 – The Forum, London

Had to swap our downstairs tickets for seats upstairs, as the wife was on crutches, so was slightly concerned that we wouldn’t enjoy it as much. Bloody missed the start again, because they kicked off at 8 on the dot. Hrmph. Anyway, pretty much the same set as at the Academy, still didn’t do ‘Every Day Should Be A Holiday’ but redeemed themselves by doing a fantastic ‘You Were The Last High’. A brilliant, brilliant live band.

Dandy Warhols ticket Dec 2003

The Dandy Warhols – 23/05/03 – Brixton Academy

Ever since I had heard ‘Every Day Should Be A Holiday’ about six years before, I had harboured a burning desire to see the Dandys live. They seemed to get better with each album, and finally they were going to play London (at least, play London when I was aware of them playing London anyway), touring in support of ‘Welcome To The Monkey House’. This was a much more synth-heavy album than the previous ones (thanks to the foppish Nick Rhodes’ knob-twiddling) and although I was slightly alarmed at Courtenay Taylor-Taylor’s squeaky voice on Jonathan Ross the week before, I was rather looking forward to the gig.

Dandy Warhols ticket May 2003

They don’t have a support act, as we found to our cost when we entered the Academy only shortly after 8pm – they had already started! I fucking hates missing the start, I does. Not sure what we missed, but they were rocking the place already. In the almost 3hrs that they were on stage, they played a good mixture of the short poppy songs and the long drawn out psychedelic ramblings, alternating between fast and slow, dancey and chilled out. Courtney’s voice was fine – he’s no Kiri Te Kanawa, but he managed the high notes on ‘We Used To Be Friends’ pretty well, and anyway, most of the songs are in a lower, more comfortable register.

I had very quickly tired of the originally-sublime-but-played-to-death ‘Bohemian Like You’, thanks mainly to the Vodafone ad, but I have to say it was the best song of the night – the Academy crowd went proper mental. Most of the ‘single’ material was great, but the self-indulgent rambling trippy stuff from the first couple of albums, like the aptly titled ‘Fast Driving Rave-Up with The Dandy Warhols Sixteen Minutes’ was a real bonus – coupled with the mesmeric strobes and dry ice, it could almost have been Hawkwind 10 years before. The one disappointment was that they only played an acapella version of ‘Every Day…’ After the last encore, Zia came on stage, genuinely apologetic that Courtenay’s voice was too shot to do any more, and serenaded us with a cute little song about a happy flower in a flowerpot. Or something equally Haight-Ashbury. Phenomenally good gig.