2015 in review: Top albums and gigs

Below are two lists: my top 10 favourite gigs of the year, and top 10 favourite albums.

Top 10 gigs

1. Pokey Lafarge – Corner – 9 April – Brilliant stage presence, such a tight band and so, so much fun! Pokey was my gig of the year for many reasons, but mostly because it caught me off guard (going in with little idea what kind of show it would be). He is such a great performer with an endless, genuine energy, his band was spectacularly good, and the show kept a solid dance party going without a moment’s rest.

2. Paolo Nutini – Palais – 1 April – ‘Iron Sky’ gave me shivers and ‘Pencil Full of Lead’ had me dancing – such was the versatility in Paolo’s theatre show. This performance showed an evolution to headliner status, with huge stage presence and the songs to back it. This one also had some of the funniest heckling.

11.4 PAOLO

3. Florence + the Machine – Sidney Myer – 10 November – No one receives a crowd quite like Florence. She brought everything to this show, embracing the crowd both figuratively and literally. How anyone can run and dance so much while singing like that is incredible.

11.1 FLO

4. Father John Misty – Meredith Music Festival – 12 December – Pipping his own sideshow for a place in my favourites, the reception Father John Misty (rightly) received in the Sup played a big part in this rating so highly. Hilarious, sarcastic, soulful and what great hair…

5. Marlon Williams – Corner – 3 July – The most memorable encore of the year. Marlon loves a few covers, but the double of The Zombies ‘Time of the Season’ and Screamin Jay Hawkins’ ‘Portrait of a Man’ was perfect.

6. Montaigne – NSC – 6 November – Another real surprise of a gig. I knew Montaigne had a cool voice, but wow can she sing. This felt like the start of something massive.

7. The Basics – NSC – 24 February – 3 hours of tunes and silliness and working on the spot with occasional sheet music from the crowd, this was one of the more memorable Basics gigs I’ve attended.

11.3 BASICS

8. Flight Facilities & MSO – Sidney Myer – 17 October – This was a special and unique event, with the MSO breathing new life into the electronic numbers. Katie Noonan’s soaring vocals and Reggie Watts’ hilarious cameo were my highlights.

11.5 FLIGHT

9. Mumford & Sons + Future Islands – Sidney Myer – 12 November – Future Islands redefine rock performance with dancing like this show, while Mumford & Sons brought some of the loudest and most glorious singalongs I’ve heard.

11.2 MUMF

10. Jordie Lane – Toff in Town – 18 April – Jordie continues to develop as a poignant storyteller, through songs and banter. An intimate performance of one of our recent greats.

Top 10 albums

10 Maccabees - Marks to Prove It
10. Maccabees, The – Marks To Prove It

09 The Wombays - Glitterbug
9. Wombats, The – Glitterbug

08 Mark Ronson - Uptown Special
8. Mark Ronson – Uptown Special

07 Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear
7. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

06 Marina and the Diamonds - Froot
6. Marina & The Diamonds – Froot

05 Calexico - Edge of the Sun
5. Calexico – Edge Of The Sun

04 Marlon Williams - Marlon Williams
4. Marlon Williams – Marlon Williams

03 Everything Everything - Get to Heaven
3. Everything Everything – Get To Heaven

02 Florence and the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
2. Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

01 Lianne La Havas - Blood
1. Lianna La Havas – Blood

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Florence + The Machine @ Palais Theatre, 22 July 2015

The charm, talent and bedazzlement that is Florence + The Machine is a truly wonderful thing. According to a press release, 40,000 entries were received in the ballot for Flo’s two sideshows; so it was pretty stellar to secure tickets at the just-under-3k capacity Palais Theatre.

This show was genuinely stunning. And while I’m happy to hold it in the tops of the year, the people down the row seemed to think it was the single greatest moment of their entire existence. Chock full of highlights, Flo’s voice took the roof off (quite an effort – it’s quite far up) and along with her dance, banter and all round presence had everyone in awe.

Among the set list, ‘What Kind of Man’ pumped enormous guitar while blinding everyone with heavy lighting, the superb ‘Shake It Off’ mixed elements of acapella and crowd choir, a poignant thrust of dance shapes within a huge vertical spotlight ended ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ and ‘Dog Days Are Over’ provided a gigantic finish with the theatre jumping up and down as one.

Adding to the fun of it all, the set was far from orchestrated. Someone wanted to hear ‘My Boy Builds Coffins’ so Flo pulled it out, forgot the lyrics and turned it into something as humorous as it was impressive. Another girl wanted a hug, so she was invited up on stage for just that. Even severe feedback was treated as creative opportunity – labelled as the new song titled only by the emoji face “that goes like this <Flo pulls face>.”

Florence + The Machine have pretty much been serious headliner material from the outset, but shows like this demonstrate that a band can be truly spectacular, as playful as they want and continue to grow beyond what you didn’t think was possible.

Set list:

What the Water Gave Me
Ship to Wreck
Shake It Out
Cosmic Love
Delilah
Long & Lost
Sweet Nothing
Only If for a Night
My Boy Builds Coffins
How Big How Blue How Beautiful
Queen of Peace
What Kind of Man
Drumming Song
You’ve Got the Love
Dog Days Are Over
St Jude
Spectrum