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My Most Seen Live Bands

I'm not sure what you're going to learn from this, except that this shortish list probably reveals that there are only a few bands which have drawn me back again for a repeat experience. Or else it reveals that my memory isn't so good. Anyway, to the best of my knowledge, this is the entire list of bands I've seen more than once.

There are many, many bands I've never seen, which I'd see over and over if I could... Of bands in the past I'd like to have seen, top of that list must be the likes of Led Zeppelin, Cream, David Bowie, several of the punk/new wave outfits, the Cocteau Twins... huh, the list is too long isn't it, as it probably is for you. Of the ones in the list below, the ones I wish I could see again are Ikara Colt (but sadly never can), Jeff Beck (he's still working, but tours so infrequently), Bitch Alert (barely possible, if they ever burst back into life, but I'd have to go to Finland); and I'll be surprised and sorry if I've seen the last of The Raveonettes. The nice thing is that most of the bands I listen to are active now; the unfortunate thing is that most of them are Finnish and I'll be lucky to see them here.


Ikara Colt9 Ikara Colt

I hadn't heard of this band before seeing them on that Sahara Hotnights tour in 2003. They had a five year lifespan, and it was already halfway through. Their early performances were legendary, spiky and provocative affairs; even when I latched on to them they still had a tendency to face up to difficult audiences, especially their lead singer Paul Resende. They came out of art school, and some might have thought this a variety of performance art; but I think it was down to the fact that so often they were supporting acts with an inbuilt constituency quite different from themselves. I mean, touring with Amen, they were never going to get an easy ride from their fans, were they? Frankly, what Ikara Colt was doing was so different - people generally called it 'art punk', if that makes any sense - they weren't an obvious fit with anyone else. But my suspicion was the band liked it that way. I miss them a lot; but have to agree that they were just about done when they did split. It was a few weeks after drummer Dom decided to quit. He was very much a distinctive part of the band's sound, so that was pretty much that. Two very individual albums, Chat and Business and Modern Apprentice, and a history of lively gigs which I am very glad to have seen some of.

The full list:- 27 February 2003, Bowery Ballroom, New York; 2 March 2003, The Black Cat, Washington DC; 4 March 2003, Cat's Cradle, Carrboro NC, all supporting Sahara Hotnights. 9 April 2003, The Mill, Preston, and 13 April, Manchester Academy 2, supporting Amen. 6 June 2004, Night and Day, Manchester, and 9 June 2004, Carling Academy Liverpool, headlining for the Modern Apprentice album. Finally, 13 September 2004, Manchester Academy 3 supporting The Stills, and 24 September 2004, Manchester Apollo, supporting The Hives.

The Raveonettes

5 The Raveonettes

Danish duo which it seems I can't get enough of. It's partly their sheer cool, but mainly the enveloping live sound, feedback and half submerged vocals, which drew me in. Funny, really, that they've kept going so long, because their recorded output is goodish but it's hard to imagine it's sold in quantity. No, I think it's the same for other people as for me, the addictive live experience. I seem to have seen them on a regular basis, always in Manchester, at the University, in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Looks like there's a pattern there. You'll actually find I've written separate reviews of all five gigs... (shakes head in disbelief)

4 Sahara Hotnights

Swedish band I got into for a while, who I saw once in Manchester, and then three times in succession on tour in the US. No, I didn't go over just to see them! But once I saw my own travel plans coincided with several of their gigs on that long 2003 tour, I was curious to see what a loose succession of gigs would feel like. I caught them in New York, Washington, and North Carolina. They certainly had their live moments, but it never seemed quite as good as their sound on the album which had drawn me in, and which turned out to be a bit of a one-off in their discography. A decent band, but now semi retired back in Sweden.

3 The Washdown

This US (Florida?) band are an accidental statistic, in that they were supporting Sahara Hotnights on that 2003 tour I managed to see three times. But I don't mind that at all. While I can't say I've listened to their cds all that much, they put on a highly energetic show under difficult circumstances (they'd temporarily lost a band member to injury). Likeable lot, as I found while chatting to them.

2 Jeff Beck

If you have the slightest taste for sheer musicianship, kill to get a ticket to see Jeff Beck at least once in your life. Except that having managed that, you may well like me be desperate to see him again. Many years later, I did, and once again any superlatives were inadequate. At times, the sounds he can rip out of an electric guitar verge on the supernatural. He is one of the half dozen greatest rock guitarists to have walked the planet.

Bitch Alert2 Bitch Alert

Finnish. Saw them twice one Summer, and now that's it, since they seem to have folded. Usually styled as a grunge band. One of the shows, doing a half hour supporting, had a few flat moments, but the other was a memorably raw display. Love their last couple of albums, which were only released in Finland. I'd have liked to have seen that material live. Too bad.


The Duke Spirit2 The Duke Spirit

Three years apart, 2005 and 2008 - I wrote about both occasions, see above - but very much the same band, same venue (and from the pics I was standing on exactly the same spot) with an impressive show of guitar driven songs and smoky vocals.

2 Tori Amos

A long time ago, when she made her initial impact with Little Earthquakes and we hadn't heard anything like it at all. Once at Manchester University and secondly at the Free Trade Hall. Did she actually have a band? - I only remember her and her piano, with that strange straddle of the stool. Intense student-types standing all around me mouthing the heartfelt learnt-by-heart lyrics. I liked the musical originality and the very slight but definite edge of madness. And the fact that she was supposed to be half Cherokee. Must have been an impressive performer, or I'd never have gone back for a second helping.

2 The Kinks

Twice, both times at the Manchester Apollo, back in the Eighties, and even then it was some time after their Sixties heyday. Ray and Dave Davies appearing to be in harmony. Dancing girls. Classic songs, but still vital and you certainly didn't feel they were just going through the motions. And little indication that their advancing years were slowing them down.

2 The Tubes

I'm amazed to have been able to see this lot at all, and given the chance to see them again a matter of months after the first occasion, I wasn't going to pass that up. One or two of the band, if you met them on their own, you'd be looking to see where they'd parked their Zimmer frame. Their prime time was back in the late Seventies. But on stage they offered up a full two hours of noise and ribald showmanship which put to shame many bands half their age. The limited dimensions of the Manchester Academy 3 didn't seem to faze them at all, though on his stacks Fee Waybill got most of his support from the ceiling beams.

3 August 2008