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 Datsuns – 14/09/13 – ReFuel, Dunedin

Yay! It’s Datsun time again!

The visits are less frequent these days, but they come nonetheless. The albums aren’t quite so good as they used to be, but they’re still worth a listen and guaranteed to contain at least a couple of stormers. Latest offering no exception. I mean, if they’re going to call it Death Rattle Boogie, you’re not going to expect them to have gone all left field and experimental, are you.

The Datsuns
ReFuel loves The Datsuns

I don’t especially like ReFuel, it’s acoustically quite pants and usually way too loud, but such has The Datsuns’ stock fallen over the years that it’s about the right size these days. It reminds me of The Garage in Highbury Corner though, so it’s not all bad. But without Stella on tap, and no kebab shop over the road.

There was a support act, the last ten minutes of whose set I caught as I wandered in, but I have no idea who they were. Floppy fringed Tom Morello wannabe on guitar, and wailing Josh Homme-alike on singing duty is all I can really remember. Sounded a bit like Tool meets QotSA – quite avant-garde really, but without the requisite skill level to carry it off. A little ambitious maybe, but at least a few out of ten for effort.

Probably the biggest crowd I’ve seen in Refuel for a good few gigs, upwards of 100 people I’d say. Woo, Dunedin, you’ve really pulled out the stops again, innit. On come Cambridge’s finest, and collectively they’re looking a little older and a little paunchier than they once did, it has to be said. Fair do’s though, it’s over 11 years since I first saw them at the Astoria, and I can’t pretend that I haven’t got a little more er, thickset in the intervening years. Dolf is now sporting a Dirty Sanchez ‘tache that makes him look like a pimp from the 1970s, and it’s not even Movember. Perhaps it’s because he lives in Sweden these days.

aka Dirty Sanchez
Dolf Datsun

They open with something newish, following it up with something newish and then something oldish. Let’s not get bogged down with details, I can’t give you names. The Datsuns are one of my favourite bands ever, I’ve got all their LPs, I’ve seen them at least half a dozen times but I can only name a couple of tracks.

Dang, they still sound good though. Really fucking good. The sound is just brilliant, mixed to perfection. Don’t think I’ve ever said that about ReFuel. And these boys can play – it’s simple, unadorned RAWK, and nobody does it better than The Datsuns. Most of the albums after the eponymous début just sort of blur into one, I can’t really place more than a couple on each, but when Dolph puts down his bass and struts Jagger-like up to the mike stand, you know what’s coming next. Harmonic Generator, which I always think is my favourite track, and the one I’m hanging out for. It’s always good. Then they belt out an utterly blinding rendition of Motherfucker From Hell and I remember that actually that song is my favourite. The crowd is totally up for it – the mosh pit is at least a third of the crowd and the sweat is dripping off the ceiling like someone in the room upstairs has let the bath overflow. There’s even a few attempts at crowd-surfing, surely not the easiest of activities in a room with no stage to launch off, and only a couple of feet gap between the audience and the ceiling.

They flit about from recent album to recent album, barely touching Smoke & Mirrors or Outta Sight… and all of a sudden we’re at the end. Ninety minutes of hard-edged bliss and they’re back in the dressing room. The ReFuel crowd is in good voice though, and has them back out on stage in no time – luckily for us, this is the last night of the tour, and them Datsuns are keen to sign it off with a bang. They play another 3 or 4, including Blacken My Thumb off Outta Sight… and it’s clear from the odd fuck up that there isn’t even a set list – now, they’re just pulling oldies from the vault, oldies that they don’t play very often. Dolf doesn’t remember all the words, and they have to have a couple of goes at ending it, but who cares? They still manage to make it sound fantastic, and as always, they put in the performance of consummate professionals.

nb Images brought to you by the Nokia Lumia 720, possibly the worst smartphone camera on the market. Soz.