>***A New Band A Day is taking a ‘well-earned’ break until the New Year, so no more new bands until then. BUT over the next week-and-a-bit there’ll be a whimsical (i.e. hastily cobbled together) look back over the Best Stuff of 2008! Best enjoyed with a plateful of Stilton, a glass of sherry and an overwhelming sensation of sorrow as you realise that Christmas used to be more exciting when you were a child***

Lists were promised last week, and so here they come: one today, one tomorrow, and then in the New Year – the Big One: ANBAD’s Top Ten New Bands of 2008. Today’s though is a bit more sedate, and, with an end-of-school-term impishness, has virtually nothing to do with New Bands at all. It’s…

The ANBAD Top Five Gigs of 2008!

As usual, these are in no particular order, apart from one which will be deemed ‘Best Gig’. So it is in some kind of order after all.

5) Art Brut, Stoke Sugarmill, February-ish

Here at ANBAD, we’re happy to admit that we’re massively biased towards Art Brut and would, in all honesty, proclaim their greatness even if they released an album full of Kenny G-esque jazz-lite numbers.

This is because they’re just about the most brilliant, consistently fabulous live band out there – great, rabble-rousing songs and a superb frontman in Eddie Argos, whose throwaway ‘n’ carefree attitude is outrageously refreshing. This gig was them at their absolute best and the audience responded by going bananas.

4) My Bloody Valentine, Manchester Apollo, June-ish

The band I’d always hoped would get back together, but thought never would, actually did, and it was a quasi-religious experience. Yes, they were stupidly loud. Yes, you had to wear earplugs. Yes, their songs sounded like you standing next to an passenger jet at take-off.

It was brilliant, jaw-dropping and overwhelming. It sounded like this: WWWWSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHH ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGRRRRRRR RRRRRRRRRFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF and left normally sane people to say humiliatingly quaint things like, “that was like being reborn” (me).

3) Lethal Bizzle, Bestival, September-ish

Expected nothing. Got everything. Incredible. Loud, brash and brazen. Hyped the audience to the point of explosion, and then pushed harder. Fact: Lethal Bizzle are tougher, smarter and better than 99% of all live bands today. Almost Gig Of the Year, but not quite.

2) Hot Chip, Manchester Academy (& Bestival)

The band that were faintly nerdy electro-rock curios when I first saw them a few years ago finally mutated into the acid house-rock monster that they always hinted at becoming. Their live act is in turns charming, banging and air-punchingly fabulous.

Hot Chip are without pretence (see their fancy-dress costume-wearing performance at Bestival for proof) but are also full of humour and sincerity, and their gigs are electric. They’re pretty much the New New Order, and that’s high praise.

1) GIG O’ THE YEAR – PUBLIC ENEMY – Manchester Academy, May-ish

This was an easy choice. Public Enemy gigging the whole of It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back was either going to be awesome or terrible. It was the former, durrr. The best gig this writer’s ever seen, easily. Here’s what I said at the time:

A truly brilliant gig: angry, brutal, and winningly political, inevitably, but the actually important stuff – the songs – were astonishing to hear live. Poundingly brilliant, terrifyingly funky and thrillingly loud – the crowd went berserk as they rolled out each grandstanding song. Flava Flav proved he was much more than his appearances as latter-day reality TV bizarro-fodder, geeing up the crowd until the sweat ran down the walls. Chuck D charged between his twin assaults of his brilliant lyrical polemic and delivering his powerful political beliefs, insistent and sincere.

It was hard to have left without feeling that the world needs Public Enemy today more than it ever has before. Shockingly, brain-rattlingly good.”

And I stand by every overwrought, garbled word.

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