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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Best Concerts of the Year 2014

The day has arrived... it's time to begin with our Best-of-the-year LISTS! As we did in 2013, we start with our favourite concerts. Exciting new bands, two amazing veterans I thought I was never going to see, the fulfilled dream of attending (at least one) Indietracks... and, in the most personal note ever, seeing your own blood brought you into tears. Yes, it's been a fabulous year in what regards to live music. Hope you like it!

Cosmen Adelaida - La [2] de Apolo
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
10. Cosmen Adelaida (La [2] de Apolo, Barcelona, February 5th)
One of my favourite Spanish bands, and they have just nailed this 2014 with the release of 'La Foto Fantasma' (look for it at the best albums of the year list), but this gig arrived even before we heard the record. Very powerful, tight and straight to the jugular show from start to finish, with stunning new indie-rock tunes like 'El Parque', 'Familia/Trabajo' or 'Becerro de Oro' adding diversity and strength to an already exciting collection of tunes (go hurry and check out '7 Picos'). Flawless.

The Chills - Indietracks
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
9. The Chills (Indietracks, Ripley, July 25th)
The first day of the Festival at the Midland Railway Center had a very special date, with one of Flying Nun's most unforgettable bands. Of course, I was eager to hear, for the first time, quintessential, eternal tunes like 'Pink Frost' or 'Heavenly Pop Hit' (sounded glorious, just glorious), but I admit I wasn't expecting to see a band in such full form, with still so much to say, something new tunes proved (looking forward to new album). It doesn't rank higher because it was too short, but still, for an hour I was in New Zealand, one of the realms of indiepop. 

Courtney Barnett - Primavera Sound
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
8. Courtney Barnett (Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, May 31st)
The Melbourne singer-songwriter is one of the most exciting acts that have appeared recently. She's charismatic. She's extremely talented, creating excellent tunes ranging from folk to rock packed with outstanding lyrics (she's easily one of the best lyricists out there today, funny, witty, thoughtful while being the opposite of pedantic). She's spontaneous and things look natural, unforced and genuine with her. And my Goodness! She really knows how to deliver a dynamic, relentless show. Courtney Barnett took Pitchfork's stage and won us over. Fingers crossed there's a chance to see her in a more intimate venue. Could be priceless.

Withered Hand - Indietracks
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
7. Withered Hand (Indietracks, Ripley, July 27th)
Indietracks again. Dan Willson has offered us 'New Gods', among the best records of the year. So expectations were high, very high. Then you realise Ms. Pam Berry is doing backing vocals. And you have your friend and admired musician Jeremy Jensen from the Very Most next to you, smiling just like you when masterpieces 'Horseshoe' and 'Black Tambourine' are played. Could it get better than this? Yes indeed. For me it did with 'Religious Songs'. Larger than life tune. Larger than life performance. More than five months after I still get goosebumps.

Savages - Sala Apolo
Photo: Rafa Piera - Indienauta
6. Savages (Sala Apolo, Barcelona, February 18th)
Unfortunately, the FAKE & DEAD city of Barcelona wasn't ready for a band like Savages. People prefer to chat or constantly check their stupid Iphones. That's why it ranks a 6. It's a shame because here's a band that battles on stage. They try to remind us there was a time when music was powerful, interesting, intriguing, meaningful. And they do taking no prisoners live. A gig without concessions, fuelled with dense and long new tunes. The quartet is one of the most impressive stage presences I have ever seen. The magnetism and fierce attitude of Jehnny Beth, the guitar transformed into a machine gun in the hands of Gemma Thompson and the terrific, striking rhythm section of drummer Fay Milton and bassist Ayse Hassan. They are an earthquake. A landslide. 

Slowdive - Primavera Sound
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
5. Slowdive (Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, May 30th)
Many will say My Bloody Valentine. Others Ride. Mine is Slowdive, by far, far, far. On a day where The National was also playing, this was the concert to remember. First time hearing live tunes like 'Avalyn', 'Catch the Breeze', 'Machine Gun' or 'When the Sun Hits'. First time seeing my dear Rachel Goswell on stage, shining. First time going ecstatic in a massive, open space with tunes always dreamt to be enjoyed that way. Slowdive, you made my forget myself for a while...

Boutade - Sala Razzmatazz
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
4. Boutade (Razzmatazz 3, Barcelona, October 17th)
And just when you thought it couldn't get more personal... I don't know if you can imagine what it means for someone so passionate about music to write about a band that is fronted by his own brother, also a stubborn music lover himself. And how hard is to write about it without losing your composure. Wasn't the first time seeing him on stage, but it was clearly the finest. In total command of the scenario-situation, the band was almost flawless, putting a show that ignited after 'Grey Is a Lie' and became simply majestic in tunes like 'In My Own Desert', 'White Rats', or that heavenly, breathtaking finale that was 'Lost Friends'. How you've grown, my beloved little brother. Here's a real band waiting for you to be discovered.

Ought - Primavera Club
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
3. Ought (Primavera Club, Barcelona, November 2nd)
We were tired and seriously considering leaving the Festival. We didn't have any expectations with this Canadians. But what a tragic mistake it would have been. We would have missed a mind-blowing, completely hypnotic gig from the very first second. An impossible and extraordinarily personal music, recalling Wire, The Velvet & The Fall at the same time. Explosive and expansive combination, full of twists, tone changes and surprises, and propelled by Tim Beeler, an incredible frontman, summoning Mark E. Smith, David Byrne and Jarvis Cocker altogether. What a discovery.

St. Vincent - Primavera Sound
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
2. St.Vincent (Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, May 29th)
Almost every magazine is rating Annie Clark's latest album among the best of the year. That's not my case (I prefer 'Strange Mercy' and her earlier works), but it's hard for me to suggest many better options to see an artists performing live. At Primavera Sound she delivered a masterful example of what does it mean arriving to a state of absolute control and knowledge about playing live while showing all possibilities of your own skills. Superb show of a unique, true artist.

Fear of Men - Primavera Club
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
1. Fear of Men (Primavera Club, Barcelona, October 31st)
Topping the list I have chosen one of the Blog most beloved bands, praise dand hailed recurrently from the very first time I discovered them. Was hoping for a great gig for sure, but at Primavera Club they surprised me in the most positive way. More upbeat and danceable than expected. Jangle-pop combined with the mystery of post-punk, far from the fragilty Jessica Weiss' sweet vocals can suggest on a first impression. With Daniel Falvey fabulous guitar playing and Weiss showing she's a strong, engaging frontwoman (striking rendition of 'Pink Frost' from The Chills included), the gig was a triumph from start to finish. I left my throat trying to reach the higher notes, I danced like no many people has seen and was lucky enough to greet them after the show. Just a perfect night...

Want to check last year's best concerts? Just click here
What about 2012? Click here 
And 2011? Then check here

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