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
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
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.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering