It’s getting close to the end of the year and the first ‘best of’ lists have begun to surface. I’m a huge fan of such lists because of my constant belief that I’ve missed some cultural zeitgeist or other, so much so that I am currently running about a year behind everyone else in a desperate attempt to keep up.
Aside from the usual culprits – book, cd, dvd, movie – on the more musically inclined lists there is always the ‘best gig of the year’ to be considered. And therein lies a sticky (literally for some venues) problem.
How do you rate the ‘best gig’? Is it the music? The atmosphere? The energy of the band on stage? The interaction with the crowd? The interaction IN the crowd? Or that undefinable something that pushes beyond your expectation? And after considering allof that do you also need to consider how much your pre-gig expectation will come to weigh on your decision?
And finally there is our old favourite ’emotional attachment’ to consider as well. Of all the gigs I’ve been to this year, a couple have had a definite advantage because they are already benefitting from a non-musical memory or influence. In that sense, given that I’m already pre-disposed to the gig itself, it’s quite possibly unfair to compare these gigs with others.
The Kings of Leon gig (last year) was excellent. They translated the album in a tight, powerful live act, handled the audience well and paced the gig well. It was easily one of the best gigs I attended. However, whilst the R.E.M. concert was musically better than I had expected, it wasn’t on a par with the Kings of Leon gig. Despite that I have no qualms stating that the R.E.M. gig was better. Not only was it in my ‘hometown’, but it was with the same group of friends that, in the very same spot some 14 years before, I saw Runrig. Now that’s entirely unfair on the Kings of Leon but hey, it’s not MY fault, right?
I have two gigs left this year. Next week I’m off to see Björn Again, and tonight is a gig which I’ve been anticipating for about eight years.
I bought their first album on the back of one song, something which broke my long standing “always hear three good songs before purchasing the CD” rule, and passed up the opportunity to see them the next year. I still regret that decision.
Since then I’ve not been able to see them when they appeared at Glasgow Green in a double-headline with the Red Hot Chili Peppers as I was boarding a plane at the time, nor when they headlined T in the Park this year as I was in Torquay. They’ve visited Scotland every year since I bought their first album and I’ve never managed to see them live. Until tonight.
And this is what I mean. I have such eager anticipation of the gig tonight, and that anticipation rides on the back of over eight years of yearning, that I’m worried it either won’t meet my expectations or that it will gain extra credibility because I’m finally seeing them live. It’s almost unfair to the other gigs I’ve been to this year.