London’s been pretty good this year.
Put simply, 2015 was the year I decided to start making the most of London, beyond the pubs and hangovers (although there have been plenty of those, too. I’m not dead).
I started playing tennis on Saturdays. I did a bit more yoga during the week. And when I wasn’t lying on a mat, breathing, I went to lots of events and gigs. Not the huge stadium jobbies, but the little ones; or, at least, anywhere that doesn’t cost £50+ per ticket and sell binoculars at the bar.
Thing is, you usually remember a gig. You might remember it because it was very very good, or because it was bad, or because you were excited, or mildly disappointed, or because you’d had a crap day followed by three incredible hours in a magical, strobey, packed, loud, laser-filled room.
And if you’re 5ft 3, you will also remember, in exacting detail, the thread count of the t-shirt belonging to the very tall man who stood in front of you.
So, in order of gigs attended since January, here’s who I saw this year – and why it was good.
1. Ghostpoet at Chats Palace, Homerton (28th January 2015)
2. TOKiMONSTA at Oval Space, Hackney (12th February)
3. Jon Hopkins at Brixton Academy (24th April)
This man. This man. Musician / producer behind what’s been the soundtrack to most of my waking activity since 2013, Immunity. Brixton Academy is also one of my favourite venues in London, so mix that with some mesmerising music, lasers and strobes, massive projections, and a slanted floor (seriously, the tall people, they find me every time) and you’ve got a pretty much perfect night. PS. Jon, call me.
4. The Prodigy at Alexandra Palace (15th May)
Is this how it ends? I wondered, between the hours of 12am and 2am, is this how I go? Crushed between a sweating mass of men raving to Smack My Bitch Up? Turns out, the average audience at a Prodigy gig is now either 32+ (Jilted Generation, your time) or under 20, and young enough to be most of the other half’s children. In fact, one woman in the loos had ticked both boxes and was there with her son. Either way, when this is the result, you can’t really complain. A+ show, Keith. Keep it up.
5. Kwabs at Somerset House (17th July)
I hadn’t listened to much of Kwabs’ music before, but then that’s the best thing about seeing anything and anyone at Somerset House. Whether it’s a film or a gig, or people falling on their arse ice skating – the setting is so beautiful, and atmospheric, and has a magical way of timing the good bits just for when the sun starts to set a lovely pink colour, that you’ll end up having a really good time anyway. And so I do not remember much of Kwabs, but I remember that is what we did.
6. Knife Party at Brixton Academy (Halloween / 31st October)
7. Lapsley at The Dome, Tufnell Park (4th November)
8. Talib Kweli at the Jazz Cafe, Camden (19th November)
9. Four Tet / Chvrches at Alexandra Palace (27th November)
Disclaimer: we missed Four Tet because I was eating a pie. In other news, Chvrches were good – I think we decided that Lauren Mayberry’s stage chat was endearing (some in our group said “annoying”) – but… ah, I don’t know. Despite it being a sold out show, and the tunes being good, and her voice being amazing, the atmosphere was a bit flat. Then again, the last time I’d been in Ally Pally I’d basically feared for my life, so maybe this was a safer alternative.
10. Elliot Moss at Moth Club, Hackney (4th December)
Getting into Moth Club involved walking through what is essentially the bar area at an old folks home, going through more doors, and then entering a sparkly glitter ceilinged alternative universe. If that sounds unlikely, welcome to Hackney. Anyway, after a week of binge-listening to Elliot Moss I now knew at least four songs, which enabled me to dance and even sing along with assured competence. My mate Yas was right. I did like his music. It was an excellent end to the year.
And so endeth 2015. Thank you to the friends who came with me to gigs, and the friends who made me their +1s too.
Here’s to 2016. Here’s to more music. Here’s to London.
Happy New Year.
If you like photos of London, you can also find me on Instagram, where there are barely any selfies of my face, which makes a nice change. And if you’ve got Spotify, the playlist for all these gigs is here.