The Best Gigs of 2008

He came, he rapped and he conquered Glastonbury – but Jay-Z wasn't the only music act to rock our world this year. The Independent's music writers choose their top five live performances, ones they will never forget


White Denim, Dingwalls, London (November)

Austin, Texas-based White Denim were one of the hits at their hometown's SXSW festival this year, and their debut album Workout Holiday alerted many more to their muscular, turbulent sound, which revives the psych-rock power-trio format of Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, for a world also informed by garage-punk, grunge and math-rock. The Dingwalls show was an incendiary set awash in wah-wah guitar, dizzying basslines and the kind of powerful, polyrhythmic drumming that recalls such giants as Keith Moon, Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell, all delivered with stunning force and conviction.
Andy Gill

Blondie, Latitude Festival, Suffolk (July)
Previous comeback gigs had been leaden – but this time Debbie Harry looked time-travel gorgeous, funny and committed, and was playing exhilarating, idealistic singles and proving to a tent crammed full with dancers just how good pop can be. Thousands outside in the lashing rain turned their backs on Nick Cave's main-stage headliners Grinderman to join in. Blondie had rediscovered their spirit. Nick Hasted

Africa Express, Liverpool Olympia (March)
At seven hours long, and with its mass of intercontinental stars performing together in vibrant semi-improvised workouts, this defied all the rules of a gig. A stunning line-up had the likes of Damon Albarn, Franz Ferdinand, The Magic Numbers and Reverend and the Makers sharing a stage with Rachid Taha, Amadou and Mariam, Tony Allen and more of Africa's biggest stars. Watching Franz as they were joined first by Baaba Maal, then Bassekou Kouyate and the rapper Kano for an energetic Afrobeat-driven "Take Me Out" was to witness one of many unforgettable moments of that night that could never be recreated. Elisa Bray

Raphael Saadiq Jazz Café, London (November)
Any discerning soulhead who harks back to the days of R&B trio Tony! Toni! Toné! will have been following the multi-talented Raphael Saadiq since he went solo in the mid-1990s, launched Lucy Pearl and later served gems to everyone from rapper Q-Tip to Joss Stone. This gig captured his illustrious career in the space of two hours – he got lost in the dulcet sounds of his bass guitar, left the crowd to sing along, and was the quintessential showman; engaging, charming, altogether phenomenal. It didn't hurt that I was at the very front. Matilda Egere-Cooper

Jay-Z Glastonbury (June)
Jay-Z found himself playing the most controversial gig of the year after purists objected to a hip-hop artist headlining Glastonbury, a festival with a deep-rooted tradition of rock music. Some of the crowd were fans, most were curious, but when Jay-Z strolled on to the Pyramid stage to "Wonderwall", a cheeky nod to the elder Gallagher's outrage at Jay-Z headlining, everyone went berserk. I'd lost my friends but stayed on my own to watch the spectacular show, and rather worryingly "bounce" along with the crowd. The atmosphere was thrilling and it felt like you were witnessing something that people would talk about for years to come. Gillian Orr

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence