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Friday, December 30, 2011

Best Concerts of the Year 2011

It's been a year with many concerts and Festivals, so I thought it was appropriate to list my 10 favourite live performances of this 2011. Great memories!

10. And So I Watch You From Afar (FIB Festival, Benicàssim, July 17th)
Not my music taste, ages from it. We were killing time waiting for the gigs we wanted to see that Sunday, but very soon this four Northern Irish lads unleashed a thunderstorm of noise. Their brutal math-rock was like a shock therapy. When a band plays with such passion, it can only receive gratitude from an audience.
9. Veronica Falls (Primavera Club, La 2 de Apolo, Barcelona, November 23rd)
Seen them twice this 2011, but in Barcelona they weren't just one of the year's most promising bands, but the authors of one of the best debut albums I can remember in a long time. Also, by then I knew all their songs, a fact that makes their music achieving another dimension. Uplifting, hyper vitaminized indie-pop to hum along.
8. Alela Diane & Wild Divine (La 2 de Apolo, Barcelona, October 27th)
She had been on my must-seen artists list for many years, so I couldn't let the occasion escape this time. And although I'm not that fond of the record she was presenting on the tour as I am of "To Be Still", on stage, brilliantly joined by great and familiar musicians, Alela was terrific, more diverse than expected and soulfully vibrant.
7. Basia Bulat (Caprichos de Apolo, La 2 de Apolo , Barcelona, February 11th)
Anyone who knows me a bit knows I can't be impartial with Basia Bulat. Alone with her instruments and her amazing voice , and not with the best possible sounding at Apolo, she delivered, again, an incredible performance. Her version of "I Put a Spell on You" on the piano still haunts me 10 months after. She's in a league of her own.
6. Mojave 3 (Festival Plaça l'Odissea, Barcelona, April 30th)
What can I say? I never expected I would be able to hear Slowdive's "Alison", or wonderful tunes like the sublime "In Love With a View", "Some Kind of Angel", "Bluebird of Happiness" or "Sarah" live. But I did.  Bringing Mojave3 was an unexpected gift from this free Festival.
5. Beach House (Fly to the Moon Festival, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, July 28th)
Another key event organized unexpectedly by the people of the Primavera Sound, giving us the chance of seeing Beach House for (my) the first time. It was a short gig, but simply magical, proving that "Teen Dream" is among the peaks of the ethereal style called dreampop.
4. Elbow (Sala Apolo, Barcelona, November 20th)
If it was just a matter of performance and charisma, Elbow's gig would top this list. Leaded by one of the best frontman I have ever seen, Guy Garvey, a relaxed and joyful band engaged the audience and let them be the guests of and intimate and unique celebration of great music: the 20th anniversary of one of the best bands of the last 15 years.
3. Mercury Rev (Primavera Sound, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, May 29th 2011)
After five days full of gigs, I wasn't expecting to be overblown by the last performance of the PS11. But I was happily wrong. Between fantasy and epic, between indie-rock and a magical soundtrack, sumptuous and ethereal, Mercury Rev recreated in all its majesty "Deserter's Songs". A glorious,extraordinary experience.
2. PJ Harvey (Primavera Sound, Fòrum de Barcelona, May 28th)
Technically, I had seen PJ Harvey at the ousted Summercase Festival. But "White Chalk" wasn't my record and the stage where she performed was obviously inadequate, so I left after a couple of songs, putting health ahead. But in 2011, PJ Harvey has offered the world her best record, best of the year in my opinion, "Let England Shake", and thanks to the coincidence with the UEFA Champions League Final, I was able to have a privileged seat from where to enjoy the gig. Everything they say about Polly live is true. She's among the best.
1. Pulp (Primavera Sound, Fòrum de Barcelona, May 27th)
Objectively, PJ Harvey's or Mercury Rev were better, in terms of comfort (the overcrowding at this gig was nearly unsustainable) or sounding, but having the chance of seeing Jarvis Cocker and co. performing some favourite tunes of my teenage and adult years makes this top spot deserved. As expected (he's one of the greatest frontman ever, period), the gig was all his but he had the time of giving back their hymn, "Common People" to the audience, dedicating it to "los indignados", ultimately then, to the people. "Something Changed", "Sorted for E's & Wizz", "This Is Hardcore", "Do You Remember the First Time?"... Put it simply: I finally saw Pulp.

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