5) Lady GaGa – Born This Way Ball – Twickenham Stadium (London)
I saw the 2012 Lady GaGa tour and she only makes it to number 5 in my list? It may seem strange but 2012 was a damn good year for me and gigs and our fair Lady was bettered by 4 other concerts. The Born The Way Ball was just as ridiculous as ever though, the birthing section during Born The Way possibly outdoing the fish creature from the Monster Ball back in 2010. Every song had an accompanying outfit/contraption for GaGa to attempt to dance in all the more ridiculous with her screams of ‘Dance you motherfuckers’ every few seconds. Being at a GaGa gig is like being in some sort of weird cult, you aren’t quite sure why you are there or what is going on but you are having a damn good time singing along. She’d be higher if she hadn’t arrived on stage late and had to cut Americano and my two fave tracks of hers Alejandro and Poker Face. She cut Poker Face!
Song of the show: You & I – The section where she took to her Piano for a few songs was the best bit of the show for me. Being in a stadium turned You & I from a catchy country stamper into a stadium ballad worthy of Queen. Epic to say the least.
4) Madonna – MDNA Tour – NIA (Birmingham)
The queen of pop just about beats her closest rival to the number 4 spot on my list. Some say she’s past it, some say her songs aren’t any good, some say she’s a granny. The people saying this obviously didn’t see the MDNA tour, an hour and a half of the Queen of Pop being just that and nothing more. As a ‘new age’ Madge fan, I’m all for songs like Revolver, Candy Shop and most of the excellent MDNA album making up the setlist. That said she did just enough classics as well. Papa Don’t Preach, Vogue, Hung Up, Open Your Heart and Express Yourself made sure you remembered just why she got that title. Everything was euphoric and exciting, far from the tired ageing woman that she had supposedly turned into. Madonna knows how to put on an amazing show, and I loved every second of the MDNA Tour.
Song of the show: Like A Prayer – I really wanted to go for Human Nature or Express Yourself here, both of which were incredible for very different reasons. I had to go for the ultimate song though, a performance that was simple, predictable and yet better in a live setting than I could have anticipated. Seeing my brother’s face light up as his favourite artist sang his favourite song made the whole moment even more special.
3) Plan B – Mercury Prize Live – LSO St Lukes (London)
Plan B has appeared on every list this year, and it’s his impeccable iLL Manors album that’s done it. I very nearly wasn’t able to go to the gig, I hadn’t been able to speak due to illness for the last two days. I made it in the end, and we ended up literally at the front. The gig was being filmed for TV, so I wasn’t expecting to see many songs, but he played nearly everything from iLL Manors as well as Chase & Status collab Pieces and Stay To Long to close. Hearing my album of the year just about in full, and more importantly in order was incredible. Seeing him rap those lyrics about 3 feet away from me was surreal too, especially those moments where I could tell he had spotted that I knew all of the lyrics. It may not have been technically as good as a full arena Plan B gig, but for me it was an intensely personal gig where I got to enjoy one of my all time favourite albums.
Song of the show: Deepest Shame – Of course it had to be Deepest Shame the song that ended up at number 3 on my singles list. The rap section was even more heartbreaking in person and I’m pretty sure I was singing along ridiculously loud throughout. I lost myself in one of my favourite songs a moment I’ll never be able to replicate.
2) Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto Tour – Etihad Stadium (Manchester)
If Madonna was the ultimate music gig for my brother, then seeing Coldplay with my Mum was the same thing for her. Outside of Take That, Coldplay are probably the most played artist in our house and they have the same effect on us. Hearing songs like Clocks, Paradise and Viva La Vida sung by the 60000 people in the stadium was incredible, every single one of Coldplay’s records coming alive in the live setting. They are unmatched when it comes to live performance, they bring this unique energy to the stage, and the songs are written in a way that capitalises on this. The moment in Fix You where the guitar kicks in right before that final chant of ‘Tears stream down your face’ managed to surpass even my lofty expectations, while the similar moment in Every Teardrop is a Waterfall ended the gig on a spectacular high. I don’t think I was prepared for just how good Coldplay were going to be. I knew they were a brilliant group, with plenty of songs I adored, but in the end it was like an education in how to pull off the perfect Stadium show. With Robyn as support, it couldn’t get much better for me, and yet Coldplay find themselves at number 2 on this list.
Song of the Show: Charlie Brown – Those moments mentioned above were spectacular, but Charlie Brown is like one huge 3 minute ‘moment’ in itself. It was a song where I was stood in awe of the light show the Xylobands were providing us with, an audible ‘Wow’ from me as the track kicked off. Hearing the song now takes me right back to that incredible moment, making it one of my favourite Coldplay tracks.
1) Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne Tour – LG Arena (Birmingham)
The Throne had to be on top, a gig that includes hits like Empire State Of Mind, Gold Digger and Ni**as in Paris is unmatched in my book. You can judge how much I enjoyed a gig by how little voice I have left the day after. I literally couldn’t speak after this, my brother telling me that my rapping was ‘the most hilarious thing he had ever seen’. I was one of the few people around us that knew every lyric to every song, going wild when Jay-Z album track U Don’t Know started and noticing the moment when Kanye transitioned into verses from the Power remix before anyone else. Jay-Z performed as well as he always does, but I saw him exactly 2 years previous on the Blueprint 3 Tour so I already knew the effect that my favourite songs of his would have on me, yet again Dirt Off Your Shoulder and Empire were incredible. It was all about Kanye in 2012, and the best way to describe it is to cut to my Song, or should I say Songs of the show.
Song of the Show: Can’t Tell Me Nothing/Flashing Lights: I’d already had my ‘holy shit that’s Kanye West walking towards me’ moment during opener H.A.M. and seen a bunch of Jay-Z and Throne cuts including songs as big as Otis, but nothing prepared me for that first Kanye solo track. Can’t Tell Me Nothing isn’t my favourite Kanye song, I can think of at least 10 tracks I prefer, but with that opening chant of ‘La la la la, wait till I get my money right…’ I was gone. I can’t quite describe what ‘gone’ means, but I had lost myself. If you had been stood next to me at that moment, you would have seen me literally screaming the lyrics at the stage. The steady bounce of Can’t Tell Me Nothing was the perfect way for Kanye to start, I think the fact it was one of his pure Hip-Hop records made it really hit me that I was finally seeing this artist I had adored for so many years. It was only the beginning though and seeing him go straight into Flashing Lights, by far my favourite Kanye song literally destroyed me. Both songs from Graduation, the first Kanye album I ever heard and the reason I was at that gig in the first place, it was a moment that defined everything I had ever wanted from a gig. The Watch The Throne tour was 2 and a half hours featuring my favourite songs from the last 10 years, I doubt anything will ever come close to it again.