Sometimes German, sometimes English. • The title of this blog used to change from time to time. • Interested in me reviewing your music? Please read this! • I'm also a writer for • Please like and follow Audiovisual Ohlsen Overkill on Facebook!


MUSIC 2023: TOP 23 live shows

Even if I discount the very few duds or some which I didn't attend long enough to judge them properly, I have seen at least 120 shows this year. That's quite a respectable count for me. Attending more festivals than in previous years certainly helped achieving it.

Being so satisfied with the live music year also makes it easier to stomach what you've missed. But in that regard I don't have many regrets anyway: The chances to see Voivod were wrapped inside too expensive packages - and their last headlining show in Hamburg had only been in November 2022 anyway. The cancellation of Lingua Ignota's tour - and with it the whole Sunday of A Colosal Weekend - made me extend my stay at the festival to Friday instead and see many other great bands.
The show not vistited which actually nags at me the most right now is the fiery package of Årabrot (with the drummer of Mono), Jaye Jayle and Karin Park. But then I also accept my excuse that they just didn't come close enough, especially for a weekday. Sleeping on getting tickets for The Hirsch Effekt when they were playing closer than any other concert just minutes from my place of work has no valid excuse however.

Needless to say that picking my 23 favorites (seperated into  the two categories of solo and festival performances) among that mass wasn't easy - and some shows got painfully and surprisingly left behind. Not even with sneaking in three honourable mentions after each list this feels complete. Seconding that thought even the two last concerts I attended just this week after already having finished 99 percent of the post - Jo Quail and Ni - both feel like they only missed these ranks by a hairbreadth.

But at least you can be sure that every name counted here really blew me away!


  1. The inspiration: A Slovenian allegory on Italian fascism set in 11th Century Persia. The line-up: an entire symphonic orchestra, a Slovenian Art/Folk vocal group, an Iranian Avantgarde vocal ensemble, a dozen disharmonic accordion players and of course familiar Laibach members including iconic headwear model Milan Fras as grim narrator. The result: A perfect storm of meaningful cultural exchange in an amazing combination of harsh Industrial, Folk and Modern Classical Music. "Alamut" was a highly artistic, deeply moving larger than life experience, a dream in surround sound and a nightmare of the human condition strangling your soul. Profound and meaningful. And how were Laibach even able to pull of such a giant endeavour beside all their other activities? Everything other than crowning this spectale as show of the year would be blasphemous.

  2. Only a couple of days prior to Laibach doubling down on deserving the top spot on this list it had been occupied by Michael Gira's Swans. Their return to Hamburg after seven long years was a triumph. While not as legendary unbearably loud as the previous shows I've seen of them, their performance still was a ginormous hypnotic rite of catharsis. But with more focus on acoustic, lap steel and bass guitars - and no regular electric guitars at all - their sound achieved new levels of clarity and musicality while still maintaining their mind- and body-shaking intensity. Is this the most nuanced and dynamic incarnation of Swans we've ever heard?

  3. Laibach traveling through space while playing a Country song in eight gustavholstian movements. Laibach demonstrating "Ordnung und Disziplin" in a bleak and sinister Industrial set. Laibach revisiting "Zarathustra" and "Laibach Revisited" and drawing "Sketches of the Red Districts". Laibach predicting "The Future" and showing Sympathy for the Coming Race. What a rollercoaster! Even for the Slovenians' standards this show was weird and unusual - but so captivating and just utterly brilliant. The location being a church didn't hurt the overall experience either.

  4. Believe it or not, bit this really was my first Hip Hop club show outside of a festival. And what a choice it was! With droning electronic sounds, irresistible grooves and breakbeats, Horror Soundtrack, Avantgarde Noise and Powerviolence two thirds of Clipping. provided an excellent (more than just) backdrop for the unbelievable flow of world-class MC Daveed Diggs, who delivered his tales of fear and murder in breathtaking high-speed raps, a performance I strongly assume was on par with legends like Kendrick Lamar. The sold-out Hafenklang rightfully was ablaze.

  5. It's not completely accurate to call Björk the antithesis of a Pop star. She did play a lot of her greatest hits at her orchestral show last year in Berlin. And even her 58th birthday party in Hamburg, which was sonically built upon percussions, synths and a flute sextet, was embedded into a huge impressive multi-media spectacle and featured outlandish costumes smaller artists are very unlikely to pull off. The whole performance however, which mostly consisted of "Utopia" and "Fossora" material, was too much of an artistically driven theatrical experience to find room for conventional crowdpleasing in it. But if you were willing to immerse, it also was absolutely magical beyond words.

  6. It was the second time I saw the legendary Spiritual Free Jazz big band without their leader Marshall Allan, who - now almost a hundred years young - doesn't board planes over the Atlantic anymore. But at least this show took place in a proper location for their energetic sound, which just felt somehow out of place in the Elbe Philharmonic Hall the previous year. Letting this Jazz supercluster unfold just an arm's length away, saxes all around you, is still an incomparable experience.

  7. Postponed right to the night before I was headed towards Roadburn - what a relief that the dates didn't crash! - my first Tori Amos show since 1997 treated me to a trio band performance, which included a surprisingly excessive lot of long improvisational jams. And while the vocal and piano prodigy certainly cared more about audience expectations regarding her hits than Björk did this year, this show still included some relatively obscure cuts. Even with a couple of songs dragging on a little too long and five festival days trying to overshadow my memory of the show afterwards, it was just wonderful. 

  8. Great expectations being exceeded by far. That happens when you put an artist into the right venue. And Dalila Kayros' booming Electronics and multi-octaves vocal experimentalism came ready-made for big ship's hold sound of the MS Stubnitz. The air of exlusivity (it was by far the least attended show in this lot) may also have been an elevating factor making the Italian Avantgarde artist's visit in Hamburg a special event. Absolutely loved every minute of her performance!

  9. In a parallel universe, with the right music the unique and charismatic sonor voice of the Neurosis frontman could have made Steve von Till a super star. But luckily he chose the wrong music, so his audience gets to relish in his spellbinding singer/songwriter ballads and epic Ambient Folk pieces. His multi-instrumental electro-acoustic quartet brougt a surprising amount of variety to these intimate eighty minutes of intense atmosphere.

  10. I had already seen the trio perform their brilliant subdued album "Hold Sacred" a month prior at Roadburn, but this club show, which mixed the drumless new material with older Post Punk hits and Post Rock epics worked even better. Rachel Davies led us through an emotional, solacing journey, which once again confirmed Esben And The Witch as one of the greatest live bands to see these days. Nothing but love for this wonderful music!  

  11. Time for some metropolian redemption! Due to massive sound issues their Roadburn show had been a disappointment, but the Hafenklang once again saw Imperial Triumphant's light-speed avant-jazzed Dissonant Black/Death Metal insanity in its full undiminished glory. The sound was even especially great this time.
    Seeing co-headliner Author & Punisher as a duo for the first time - six years ago it was just Tristan Shone and his fascist-killing machines - was more than just the icing on the cake, but pure Industrial Gaze bliss!


  1. Unreal or too real? One thing is for sure: The whole duration of Otay:onii's intimate solo show felt like stepping out of this world and immersing deeply into an alien but profoundly moving alternate cosmos. As high as my expectations of the Chinese-American artist had been - the full performance of her masterpiece "冥冥 Míng Míng" exceeded them by far. In my review I said it was like watching Lingua Ignota on Mars. And that's still the most fitting synopsis I have to offer for this breathtaking experience.
    (The collaborative show of her band Elizabeth Colour Wheel with Ethan Lee McCarthy the next day was also awesome.)

  2. AUTOPSY - Stonehenge Festival, Steenwijk

    After decades of being a fan of the quintessential gory Death Metal legends without ever having seen them live, Autopsy were obviously my personal reason to drive all the way to the Netherlands to finally check that box. But it definitely wasn't just me, but a consensus among everyone who witnessed it, that they proved to be the undispured headliners of the festival. From Chris Reifert's incredibly sick voice and drumming to the beautifully disgusting twin guitars and even the stage banter or a totally perplexing random incident involving an overenthusiastic festival crew member, this was an obliterating triumph and easily one of the best Death Metal shows I have ever seen.

  3. BORIS - A Colossal Weekend, Copenhagen

    As soon as the Japanese part-time quartet (in Heavy Rocks mode with regular drummer Atsua stepping forward as singer and master of ceremonies) started, the air inside the Vega changed. There was a rare unexplainable magic, a palpable electricity filling the room, which turned this absurdly heavy spectacle into a surprisingly transcendent experience. The phenomenal, unbelievably emotional rendition of "(not) Last Song" being one of the best song performances in the history of song performances only was the icing on this truly special cake of a Rock'n'Roll show.

  4. AD NAUSEAM - "Imperative Imperceptible Impulse" - Roadburn Festival, Tilburg

    Another Death Metal show, another reason to use superlatives. "Imperative Imperceptible Impulse" still stands as my favorite album of 2021, and what a treat it was to experience this uniquely dissonant, brutal and sophisticated Avantgarde masterpiece live and in the flesh! Especially the growling and throat singing performance of frontman Andrea Petucco opened my ears to aspects of the album's brilliance I hadn't even fully realized before. And how incredible was the sound? Mind blown and replaced by pure bliss.

  5. BIG|BRAVE - "Nature Morte" - Roadburn Festival, Tilburg

    Only one year after opening the festival in the Koepelhal Big|Brave brought their droning Noise Rock back to Roadburn, this time onto the biggest stage and as a quartet including the bass player of My Disco. The Canadians played their latest album "Nature Morte"Robin Wattie's piercing charismatic voice peeled her soul. So what was there not to love? I don't think I can ever get tired of watching this band - and they're only getting better and better, bigger and braver.

  6. BELL WITCH - "Future's Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate" - Roadburn Festival, Tilburg

    A show consisting of only one eighty-three minutes long Funeral Doom epic, which transcended not only its genre and the concept of Metal as a whole, but also the laws of time and space? Sounds familiar. The surprise premiere of the new Bell Witch album "Future's Shadow Part 1" established this format as the band's very specific new standard modus operandi and reprised their legendary 2018 "Mirror Reaper" performance. And me having witnessed that unforgettable show before is probably the only reason that this year's revelation isn't higher up this list. I just already knew beforehand how otherworldy this genius offering would be.

  7. POIL UEDA - Roadburn Festival, Tilburg

    Yes, this is already the third show from the very same Friday in April on this list. What an unbelievable day! And it couldn't have ended better than in the Paradox Jazz club with the merged group PoiL Ueda.
    PoiL are a borderline bonkers Prog Rock band with Zeuhl influences from France, including the heaviest acoustic (not upright) bassist ever, who also plays electric in Ni.
    Junko Ueda is a traditional Japanese singer and satsuma-biwa player. Together they started a wild, virtuous, polyrhythmic fire, a cross-cultural fusion of genres unlike anything I've ever seen or heard before. Namihazureta!

  8. KANAAN - Esbjerg Fuzztival

    Thanks to a broken tour van Kanaan arrived at the venue twenty minutes after they were supposed to begin, hectically set up the stage without any soundcheck within minutes - and then really went for it! The Norwegian trio's explosive cocktail of Stoner Rock, Kraut and Jazz Fusion already is an insane spectacle under normal circumstances. But with the extra stress-induced adrenaline rush, pushed forward by drummer Andre in complete carnage mode, this particular performance was a special kind of madness.

  9. JULIE CHRISTMAS - Roadburn Festival, Tilburg

    What a double life this lady is leading! Teaching kids by day and every once in a while being a totally badass Rock star, ragging her costumes, cutting her hair and screaming her heart out on the Main Stage of the best festival in the world by night. Julie Christmas' heavy as fuck career-spanning show included old and brand-new solo material as well as songs from her former bands Battle Of Mice and Made Out Of Babies. After three years of postponement this show finally happening was a cathartic relief and a larger than life celebration of communion.

  10. DUMA - Roadburn Festival, Tilburg

    Could there have been a more abrasive, more dystopian, more sensory-overloading way to end a festival than the surprise show of the Kenyan-Ugandan duo Duma? Started with the intention of playing Metal, this band has become a schizophrenic chaotic bastard of Electronic Noisecore, Industrial and Black Metal - and that information probably still won't help you to adequately imagine the extremely immerse trip to hell they throw you into. Was this a feverish party or a cold stroboscobic nightmare? I'll never exactly grasp or remember. I only know this melted my mind. Insanity!

  11. MOE - A Colossal Weekend, Copenhagen

    What a presence! No matter if she was whispering, speaking, singing or screaming, the intensity of vocalist and bassist Guro S. Moe alone would have been enough to make this the show of the day. Think Julie Christmas with sprinkles of Michael Gira and Jarboe! But imbed it into an extremely heavy, crushing and creepy Avantgarde Sludge sound and crown it with Tomas Järmyr on the drumkit - and you'll witness a performance unlike anything you've ever seen before!

  12. BZAAT - Woodbunge Festival, Holzbunge

    These two maniacs from Israel played their first couple of shows outside of their home country this year and if you were among the lucky few to catch them, I know that you had a shitload of fun. Such a wild, genre-bending Rock'n'Roll whatthefuckery! From Funk to Orientalisms, from Easy Listening to Math Rock this stew was spiced with a mind-boggling richness of ingredients. What a blast!

favorite MUSIC 2023 - all my lists:

TOP 23 albums   |   TOP 7 live albums   |   TOP 5 reissues
TOP 7 non-album releases   |   TOP 23 live shows

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen