The Year in Review: Best gigs of 2010

Andy Gill
Friday 24 December 2010 01:00

GIGS By Andy Gill

Solomon Burke (above)Jazz Café, London

Just weeks before his death, Solomon Burke put on the show of the year, a masterclass in magnetic charisma, gestural nuance and vocal expression which proved that it isn't necessary to wrestle a song into submission to imbue it with soul.

Arcade Fire (left)Hackney Empire; O2 Arena, LondonAmongst other things, 2010 was the year in which Arcade Fire assumed their position at rock's top table. Their Hackney Empire show was a glorious affirmation which all but burst the room apart; their O2 show proved that even a 20,000-seat arena was barely big enough to house their expansive anthems.

Pere UbuThe Garage, London

Pere Ubu's delivery of their first and last albums back-to-back involved one of the year's most extraordinary performances from singer David Thomas, clearly taking his title role in Ubu Roi to enraged new extremes as he vented his drunken fury on all and sundry – to the audience's evident delight.

MidlakeWilton's Music Hall, London

There was an aptness about Midlake showcasing their new album, steeped in antiquity and folk roots, in Britain's oldest surviving music hall. It gave a suitably haunted ambience for songs of rustic yearning delivered in delicate guitar threnodies laced with duetting flutes.

The UnthanksUnion Chapel, London

Another perfect alliance of performance and location, Rachel and Becky Unthank's show at the Union Chapel comprised interpretations of the songs of Antony and the Johnsons and Robert Wyatt, both men's gentle defiance evoked by the Unthanks' airily piquant voices.

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