The Perfect 10 – Great Bands LIVE.

The gig list at the beginning of this whole blog is what I set out to get across. With time this has mutated largely because I do not go to that many gigs nowadays.

In truth. I like writing up about music and random other things, it’s a good way to wind-down and if people enjoy reading it that is a bonus.

I thought it would be helpful to summarise my gig list as it is a lengthy read. Initially it was all one big post. If I had carried on in that fashion it may have become the longest blog post in history, but thanks to some emails about it killing browsers, etc the posts become one gig per post.

Anyway. Bands that have hit a rate of 9/10 are as follows.

Echo & The Bunnymen at Glastonbury ’85 was a set I didn’t expect from a band I knew little about. As a 15-year-old, they blew me away.

Husker Du get two 9’s. Retrospectively that would be at least one 10 but I wrote the ratings after each gig (in an old school book). I will not change my initial reaction as that is what counts in all honesty – no rose coloured spectacles here.

Likewise Slayer get a few 9’s including the legendary Reign In Blood show on Easter Sunday at the Birmingham Odeon.

Conflict get a 9 and deservedly so for a gig that personified The Mermaid in Birmingham.

Napalm Death, oddly, put on their best shows not at The Mermaid but at The Kaleidoscope in Birmingham. Notable double bills saw them with Cerebral Fix and S.O.B.

Electro Hippies and Dr & The Crippens also blew apart The Kaleidoscope in Hardcore fashion in the late 80’s.

Gang Green supported The Exploited and D.R.I. but stole the show at Goldwyns, Birmingham.

Force Fed, a little known organic Hardcore band played a blinding set at the Barrel Organ and also got a 9/10.

H.R. post Bad Brains dub that threatened Hardcore but just maintained the dub got tension racked so high at The Kaleidoscope that had they played a Bad Brains classic as an encore they would have brought the venue to its knees. Kudos and tease.

Extreme Noise Terror played much better than I ever expected at The Barrel Organ and pushed Britcore into pure rage / noise / feedback. Blistering.

Mudhoney with their Barrel Organ show brought the grunge scene to everyone’s attention with pure garage, wah, punk.

The Pixies played a great set at Glastonbury in 1989 and deservedly got a 9/10 rating.

N.W.A. brought their harder than hardcore rap to The Hummingbird and alerted even Birmingham City Council who ordered their arrest if they played Fuck Tha Police – they didn’t – but they too got a 9/10.

Obscure band The Butterfly Net played at a Moseley party and where the best non-proper gig band I ever saw.

Babes In Toyland supported ALL but the main band could not top this bands take on grunge.

Dinosaur Jr played a rambling set despite J. Mascis throwing-up on-stage at The Hummingbird and also rated 9.

The Stone Roses rated at 9 only due to Ian Brown having poor vocals and Reni leaving the band. The 10 that got away.

Mogwai and support band Aeriel M both rated at 9 with a great show at Goldwyns (Birmingham).

Antony & The Johnsons brought unlikely humour and a sombre sound to Birmingham Symphony Hall in total style.

Neon Neon played a rock opera at The Glee Club that will remain a favourite with me.

The Fucking Champs worshiped the guitar in ways no other band ever could. Alt-Guitar perfection.

A notable poor score was for The Cramps who I rated at 7. They played a very short set and were maybe under the influence too much to be able to perform. Despite that rating they are a legendary band that I wish I’d caught on a good day.

The 10’s.

The first band I rated at 10 were The Cure at the NEC on The Head On The Door Tour. A very long, crowd pleasing, all career encompassing set. Surprisingly brilliant.

The Stupids got 3 10/10’s. You needed to see this band live to understand. The mayhem. The speed. The scene.

Gaye Bykers On Acid with their 2nd gig at The Mermaid were the right band at the right time. Words cannot describe how good that gig was.

The Happy Mondays at Glastonbury ’89 hit the spot and lifted the festival into a rave. I’m not a fan of the band but that show was astonishing.

New Order are a band I have always loved and delivered at Glastonbury too. I have never seen them since and would leave it that perfect 10 way.

The Ramones are a band I saw live after there better days but were so good they could only score 10. One of the best bands of all time.

Godflesh on their debut show, as support, made a sound so heavy that they could only score 10.

Sonic Youth played music of the time and were uber cool with it.

Mudhoney on their 2nd visit to Birmingham played at Edwards No.8 and were so good they took all the air away. A room of fainting stage divers and a great live set.

Fugazi, at the same venue (Edwards No8) in the same week played one of most brutally honest performances I have ever seen. When they aired new material, in particular “Blueprint” they had the crowd going wild to songs they’d never heard – how many bands can do that?

Public Enemy showcasing It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back was new ground for me. They did it with raw honest style. Unique.

GWAR for the theatrics at such a small venue (Edwards). Crazed mayhem.

Tad were much stronger than I anticipated and with hindsight are overlooked in the Sub-Pop genre.

The Rollins Band manged to blow The Red Hot Chili Peppers away on their own show. More brutal art.

The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphopricy racked up the tension and tore down the walls with a hip-hop take of the Dead Kennedys California Uber Alles at Birmingham University in the early 90’s. Michael Franti proved he was a great frontman, speaker and performer.

Rage Against The Machine blew apart Nottingham’s Rock City. It may have been the Vodka but they were awesome that night.

Oasis at the Wulfren Hall proved their music press fawning with a wall of sound they did not keep up. Great gig.

The Prodigy on the 2nd stage at Glastonbury ’95 played the best “dance” set I have ever seen. Total crossover.

Queens Of The Stone Age in Wolverhampton played a great set even though later gigs by them were not up to this standard on that night they encompassed alternative rock like few band s ever could.

Radiohead playing an intimate gig at Manchester Apollo enlightened me to how strong their back catalogue is. I have never seen fans so ecstatic.

Justice at 8 P.M. blew CSS away and made you wish it was midnight. Debauched tech.

Jello Biafra showed he was genius rather than madman and got 3 Dead Kennedys gems out of the bag too. Reassuring joy.

Two band I would have loved to have seen live but never have are Guns N’ Roses circa their classic inital line-up. This may sound odd, but their debut LP is a bona-fide classic. The other band is the Butthole Surfers, the band that got away who released some of the most out-there sounds I have ever heard.

This leads me to my Top 5 gigs of all-time:

5. The Stupids at The Mermaid. Joyous hardcore that other Britcore bands were well way of the mark of. Everyone that attended their 2nd Mermaid gig will recall this show with a smile even if the bruises have faded long ago.

4. Gaye Bykers On Acid at the Mermaid. Again their second gig at the venue and a veritable love-in. If you were there you will agree – even if the band have not aged well material wise.

3. Beastie Boys / Rollins Band at The Hummingbird. For the Beasties to acknowledge how hard it is to follow the sheer intensity of Rollins Band and therefore play first but play Paul’s Boutique / Check Your Head material (then new) and make everyone either go crazy with joy or watch open-mouted. Blowing Licensed To Ill away with a sneer this was the Brooklyn 3 at their very, very best. Rollins Band then played with a threat that was so close you could feel it. Both band, astonishing.

2. Nirvana – Goldwyns. Sliver tour. Pre- Nevermind but the band at their real peak. Devilish sounds where the band brushed Mudhoney away with real sonic attack that they would never reach again. The sound of a band with the world at their feet, the like of which I have never heard again.

1. The Hard-Ons. Fulham Greyhound. This looks odd? Well, listen-up. Find someone who went to this gig and ask them about it. Even the bouncers looked totally gobsmacked. A venue, almost literally on-fire. Every song lifting the intensity higher. Blistering pace and wah guitar the like of which I have never seen performed live again. On record / CD / MP3 the band do not come across anywhere near how they did on stage. Band and crowd onstage or in the air, feedback wall of sound. This is how real live music should be. It was like everyone would not live beyond this gig and no-one cared but just went for it. I have never seen or heard anything like this. Total rock n’ roll that words really cannot get across. I do not expect this gig to be bettered in my lifetime…


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