2016 in review: Top gigs and albums of the year

My Top 10 gigs of 2016


10. Band of Horses – Forum – 24 July

Rounding out my list is one from my 16 in 2016 hopefuls. Always a favourite, Band of Horses played a super fun show with a wicked set list.

9. Matt Corby – Palais – May

I expected this show to be good, but was really surprised at how entrancing the tunes were. It was a strange, but consequently very memorable, show. Corby was simultaneously engaging (that voice) but entirely switched off from the crowd.

8. Jordie Lane – Gaso – 18 March

Every show Jordie does is tops. This one stood out as the first showcasing his awesome Gassellland songs and the ditching of the hat – a new era 😛

7. Lianne La Havas – Howler – 8 December

This show was just Lianne and a guitar and it was perfect. She is such a charismatic performer, loves the crowd and engages like few others can.


6. Brian Wilson – 3 April

This show was great for the sheer brilliance of its set list. Brian left his performance peak behind him a long, long time ago, but with a huge band and fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine at his side, a performance of 38 (!) classics was still damn impressive. Pop music has a lot to thank him for.


5. Coldplay – Etihad – 9 December

It has to land in the list, but putting it any higher is just unfair given what monumental amounts of money went into this show. Coldplay are the stadium band of this generation and there was so much going on in this performance – runways, hidden stages, confetti explosions, fireworks, lasers, a glowing crowd… oh, and a few tunskis – it’s impossible to forget it.

4. Montaigne – Corner – 13 October

I could possibly throw Montaigne into the list twice, she’s that good live (and the twitchy-light-fest of ‘In the Dark’ at Howler was super rad), but I’ll stick with the best I saw her in 2016. Riding high on her debut and Aria noms, this was a set brimming with confidence, stellar dance moves and that amazing voice. Montaigne will be one of those “remember when she still played club shows…” kind of acts.

3. Kate Miller-Heidke and TSO – Odeon Theatre – 18 January

An interstate sojourn for a gig  right back at the start of the year. The entirety of this gig was great, but I could rate it so highly on Kate’s performance of ‘Where?’ from The Rabbits alone. Wow. Always fun and engaging, Kate’s songs lend themselves super well to an orchestra and the TSO did them serious justice.


2. Bon Iver – Sydney Opera House – 29 May

A year ago I put together a list of 16 acts I wanted to see in 2016, which included two or three big calls. One of them – Bon Iver – actually happened and I was damn stoked about it. Not only that, it was my first concert at the Sydney Opera House. The show was experimental, clever and beautiful, a kind unlike anything else I’ve seen.


1. Leon Bridges – Forum – 19 July

Every now and then there’s a show where everything aligns – the atmosphere and act colliding in a performance that just stands out from the rest. Leon Bridges is all kinds of performer: soulful, playful, magnetic, classy. His band is divine and his songs are so, so much fun. And all of that culminated at Melbourne’s finest venue for my favourite gig this year.

My Top 10 albums of 2016


10. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – This Unruly Mess I’ve Made


9. M83 – Junk


8. Aurora – All My Demons Greeting Me As Friends


7. Bon Iver – 22, A Million


6. Ngaiire – Blastoma


5. Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math


4. Andrew Bird – Are You Serious?


3. Emma Louise – Supercry


2. Montaigne – Glorious Heights


1. Jordie Lane – Glassellland


Modest Mouse @ Margaret Court Arena, 23 March 2016

I loved this Modest Mouse gig because it was brimming with questions:

  • “What was Isaac mumbling?”
  • “When did Tom grow that stellar beard?”
  • “Is this song really ‘This Devil’s Workday’?”
  • “Does their roadie double as a bonus horn player?”
  • “Are they going to play ‘Float On’? Because I hear they didn’t play that in Sydney, and it’s a damn good song, and if they don’t bloody well pl… Oh wait, here it is.”

The last time I saw Modest Mouse was nine years ago at the now deceased Palace nightclub in St Kilda. That gig stands as one of my all time favourites, with premieres of We Were Dead material weighing down the setlist, a full scale mosh pit, and one funny tantrum from Brock when asked to play something from before 2003.

Last night in Melbourne was an entirely different affair. This was a big room (a remodelled arena event), the crowd didn’t mosh but appreciated things more subduedly, and the set delivered a hefty swag of the older Modest Mouse tracks.

Brock was talkative and funny, albeit mostly incoherent, and demonstrated how he’s one of the most expressive singers around with faces often screamy and scary and plenty of flailing guita. And the band were tight, frequently swapping out instruments for a wildly diverse set.

Modest Mouse are a rare breed and this was one damn cool performance.

Set list

  1. Ocean Breathes Salty
  2. Be Brave
  3. Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
  4. Lampshades on Fire
  5. Fire It Up
  6. Dark Center of the Universe
  7. King Rat
  8. This Devil’s Workday
  9. Baby Blue Sedan
  10. The Best Room
  11. Dashboard
  12. Gravity Rides Everything
  13. Cowboy Dan
  14. Wicked Campaign
  15. Black Cadillacs
  16. Shit in Your Cut
  17. Float On
  18. Paper Thin Walls
  19. The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box
  20. The Good Times Are Killing Me