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2019-12-13

MUSIC 2019: TOP 20 live shows




Ok, technically this isn't a top 20 list. It's one top 8 list (solo/club concerts) and one top 12 (festival shows).

Why those numbers? Because they seem reasonable in relation to the total of shows I attended this year. It doesn't mean there weren't more fantastic nights (thinking of the four sets Bone Man extravaganza in Kiel, Psychotic Waltz, Wang Wen, Kikagaku Moyo...) and more great performances at the admittedly very few festivals I attended in 2019.

These however were the ones which stood out the most:




SOLO/CLUB SHOW TOP 8:





  1. It's amazing how after all those years a new Laibach tour is still an exciting prospect which will always floor and surprise you. In theory this show should have been old news, with most of both "The Sound Of Music" and the "Laibach revisited" material having been performed numerous times on previous tours. But thanks to new arrangements (and also a couple of new songs), new blood and new visuals this show was yet another mindblowing experience. Especially "Vier Personen" marked one of the best moments of the year for me.
       

  2. ESBEN AND THE WITCH - Molotow, Hamburg
     
    "Find your own peace" Rachel Davies requests in "Seclusion". One vital piece in the puzzle of how to achieve that might be to see Esben And The Witch live. Everything in the post punk trio's music "centers around the perfect juxtapostion of ostensible simplicity with emotional complexity", as I already put it in my review. This band is just so enormously raw, delicate and goosebumps-inducing. If you get the chance to see them - don't you dare to miss it!

      
  3. VOIVOD - Bahnhof Pauli, Hamburg
     
    I know, Voivod high in this list once again doesn't come as a huge surprise. But I am not at all to blame here, because come on, the Canadian SciFiProgThrashPunkMetal legends are just that fucking good. As always the set was too short to do their decades of high quality output justice, but hey, it had more "The Wake" in it than last time - and it ripped and killed from start to finish.


  4. MOTORPSYCHO - Markthalle, Hamburg
      
    See the Voivod paragraph above? Similar situation here. With Motorpsycho you can always count on being flattened by a ginormous rock'n'roll steamroller. Consisting of classics, highlights from "The Tower" and a block with the whole "The Crucible" album (played in reverse order) this show was nothing short of one long thundering superlative.

      
  5. SUNN O))) - Kampnagel, Hamburg
     
    Without Mayhem vocalist Attila Csihar on stage, Sunn O))) presented themselves in a decidedly different form. Warmer, less abrasive, more meditative - but of course still earth-shattering loud. And that beautiful transcendent trombone moment at the crest of the show will stay in the heart of everyone who had the pleasure of seeing the drone metal masters on this tour.

         
  6. MONO + JO QUAIL - Mojo Club, Hamburg

    And yet another rightfully very expected entry in this list. They are at it for twenty years now and it shows in all the best ways. In cinematic, monumental, deafening instrumental post rock, there is just no match for Mono. To have looping cello player Jo Quail as support act and stage guest was also a very fitting decision.

      
  7. KANAAN - Hafenklang, Hamburg 

    "Ok guys, so how much John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham do you have in you?" - "Yes."

    Even though this was only their first date on their first European tour, the Norwegian instrumental power kraut rock jazz doom fusion trio Kanaan didn't waste any time in instantly becoming one of my new favorite live bands. Exciting psychedelic bliss!

         
  8. BIG|BRAVE + MY DISCO - Die Schute, Hamburg
     
    After a personnel change behind the drumkit following the recording of the last album, the live sound and appearance of Big|Brave surely looks and sounds a little different than before, but it's still an equally crushing masterclass in emotionally captivating drone rock minimalism. The fitting tour package with the experimental Sumac-meets-John Cage trio My Disco (also on the picture; Big|Brave hasn't changed THAT much) - and all this on a tiny boat - was the icing on the cake.


  






FESTIVAL SHOW TOP 12:




  1. Right now there are only few artists out there who can in any way compete with the massiveness of the drone and the otherworldliness of the voice of Swedish singer and instrumentalist Anna von Hausswolff. The audience in the packed 013 main hall fully agreed with this sentiment and ate out of her hand completely stunned and mesmerised.  


  2. SUN RA ARKESTRA - Überjazz Festival
     
    Wow! Who would have thought that after not much more than a year I would have another chance to see this legendary beyond words free jazz big band in Hamburg again? This time 95 years young band leader Marshall Allan had "only" ten other musicians with him, and without electric guitar and female vocals the band rang closer to its original sound from the 1950s. Yeah, I know. As if I could seriously judge that.


  3. IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT - Roadburn Festival

    Triumphant indeed! There could have been no better choice to say goodbye to the former church and beloved location Het Patronaat than the extreme, jazz-rooted black metal inferno the New York trio unleashed upon the thankful crowd at the very end of this year's Roadburn edition.
       

  4. MONO + JO QUAIL QUARTET - Roadburn Festival
     
    With a grand piano and accompanied by a string quartet the Japanese post rock giants Mono performed their full masterpiece "Hymn To The Immortal Wind". What more could you possibly need?


  5. GLERAKUR - Roadburn Festival
     
    What more than Mono could you need? Well, what about the Icelandic four guitars and two drummers post rock force that is GlerAkur? With musical ties to the mentioned as well as the gigantism of Swans and Cult Of Luna they took the audience in the Koepelhal by overwhelming surprise.


  6. BLACK BOMBAIM & PETER BRÖTZMANN - Roadburn Festival
     
    The infectious heavy psych stoner groove of the Portuguese improvisational trio Black Bombaim combined with the wild and raw saxophone expression of legendary free jazz elder Peter Brötzmann. What a joy to behold! Damn, I really need this released as a record.
     

  7. LOUISE LEMÓN - Roadburn Festival
     
    As a firm atheist I'm not easily converted to any kind of cult. Against Louise Lemón, glittery high priestess of death gospel, and her smoothly droning dark pop however I didn't stand any chance of resisting. Soul-soothingly beautiful!




  8. THE END - Roadburn Festival
     
    I've had a good dose of advantgarde jazz / noise experimentalism at Roadburn, but boy, Mats Gustafsson's The End featuring two brutal saxophones and outstanding wide range vocalist Sofia Jemberg took everything weird and insane and turned it up to maximum. This show was an epitome of "what the fuck" on all levels.


  9. THE COMET IS COMING - Überjazz Festival

    Synthwave prog rave fusion? Who knows? Whatever you call the explosive jazzocalypse of Danalogue (keys), Betamax (drums) and King Shabaka (sax), one thing is for sure: this mix absolutely kills. And the fabulous stage production of the Überjazz Festival didn't stand in the way of making this performance remarkable either.


  10. LUCY IN BLUE - Roadburn Festival
     
    I've already laid down my love for Lucy In Blue's debut album "In Flight" in my album of the year list. This show was was the towering reason why I had to buy the album, because in Tilburg the Icelandic retro psych proggers not only celebrated its release, but also played it in full.



  11. SATAN - Deaf Forever Birthday Bash
     
    The New Wave of Britisch Heavy Metal is not exactly the genre with maximum rotation in my daily music consumption. But if I get the chance to see one of its godfather groups on stage at a festival I surely won't say no. Especially not, when the band is blessed with a charismatic frontman like Brian Ross and still killing it as fast, dirty and crazy as these gentlemen. Hail Satan!

     
  12. various - PINK TANK Festival Heide
     
    Ok, I'm cheating a little again by overlooking a couple of Roadburn artists (sorry Molasses and Sumac!) in favor of including a local Northern German label festival. After a kind of identy crisis last year the Pink Tank was back in Heide again under it's original moniker, and I can't even tell which of the shows was my absolute favorite. I guess it's a close tie between the psych drone doom of Bees Made Honey In The Vein Tree (who also only scarcely didn't make my AOTY list), the space punk of Burnpilot and the instrumental stoner prog of Camel Driver. The night as a whole was great and deserves this shout-out of appreciation.





        


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