Best Live Moments of 2022

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It’s nearly time to say goodbye to 2022, and what a year it has been for live music. From established icons delivering the goods on the world’s biggest festival stages through to some outstanding breakthrough years for up and coming artists, it has certainly been one to remember. We’re on hand to take you through the year month-by-month, looking back at our highlights from gigs and festivals around the UK.

January and February are often quiet months in the music world, which can lend a helping hand to those fans keeping an eye on their bank accounts or attempting a dry January detox after the festive overindulgence. However, post punk Bristolian heavyweights, IDLES were in town to put bring their ‘Crawler’ album tour to Victoria Warehouse, before iconic Scouse outfit, Echo & The Bunnymen visited the same city in February to show a sold out Albert Hall crowd that they are by no means past it.

March was when things really started to pick up again. The kind of month we were dreaming about during the pandemic lockdowns when live music was a distant reality. Pale Waves tested out their third album material at Victoria Warehouse on their long awaited tour, before Gang of Youths cemented their reputation as one of the best modern live bands with a spectacular performance at Albert Hall, supported by breakout star, Tom A Smith. Jake Bugg brought his new electronic sound to Trafford later in the month, with Self Esteem impressing with her unique live show at Manchester Cathedral, all whilst BRIT Award-winning Sam Fender followed up the year of his life with a sold out arena show in Liverpool.

The Empress Ballroom in Blackpool hosted two of the stand-out indie shows of 2022, with rising Wiganers, The Lathums playing a landmark gig with support from Jamie Webster, followed by Foals bringing their well-reputed live energy to one of the north’s more aesthetically pleasing venues, with support from Yard Act. Royal Blood and The Amazons played their delayed Manchester Arena show in April, which preceded a month of music to behold in the North West town of Warrington

First up, Miles Kane at Parr Hall. Supported by Brooke Combe, Seb Lowe, and Red Rum Club, Miles put on one of the shows of the year, even bringing out some popular Last Shadow Puppets material for their first solo spin. Next, it was Friars Court‘s turn to host Mercury-nominated Leeds band, Yard Act. “I doubt we’ll be playing venues this size for much longer”, frontman James Smith rightly stated, even inviting his Grandfather onto the stage for a rendition of “Green Green Grass of Home” as a hometown treat.

Of course, the Warrington month of May ended in style with Neighbourhood Weekender. Headlined by Courteeners and Kasabian, Victoria Park hosted the North West’s fastest rising music festival to indie fans from all over the UK. Returning with another enviable lineup, Neighbourhood Weekender delivered both in terms of the entertainment and the seamless organisation of the festival as a whole. The month was closed off back in Manchester, with an Australian visit from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, tight as ever for a sold out Ritz.

Now let’s look back to June, a month that saw one of our favourite day festivals expand, as “Live at Leeds” became “Live at Leeds in the Park” at Temple Newsam. Over the other side of the Pennines, Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground welcomed heavyweights from the indie and pop world, as The Killers put on one of the shows of the year, with a little help from crowdsurfing pensioner, Billy. The same venue welcomed former One Direction star and now one of the biggest male solo artists in the world in his own right, Harry Styles, who played two nights in front of a carnival atmosphere filled with cowboy hats and conga lines.

Of course, the highlight of any June is the UK’s flagship event, Glastonbury, which finally returned after three years out due to the pandemic. It was packed with iconic performances and special guests, including headliner Paul McCartney who showed age is just a number, whilst welcoming Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen onto stage to perform The Beatles and Wings classics. Elsewhere on The Other Stage, Blossoms welcomed Melanie C for a special performance of “Spice Up Your Life”, whilst the Pyramid Stage hosted a coming-of-age set from Sam Fender and the youngest ever solo headliner in the shape of Billie Eilish.

The Northern Chorus team took a trip to Madrid in July for Mad Cool Festival, offering a huge lineup including The Killers, Kings of Leon, Metallica, Muse, and Florence & The Machine. We then visited a festival favourite closer to home at Y Not, where Courteeners, Yard Act, and Gabrielle impressed in the Peak District. However, the stand-out gig of 2022 also took place in June, as Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott performed in the latter’s home town of St Helens, not allowing the torrential rainfall to dampen spirits during a mass singalong of The Housemartins and Beautiful South classics, along with their own hits new and old.

In 2021, Reading and Leeds was one of the few festivals that managed to make a comeback due to the timing of the event, and in 2022 we saw stellar performances from Bring Me The Horizon, Arctic Monkeys, and a late addition of The 1975 following Rage Against The Machine pulling out. The following month saw The Big Moon make their long awaited return to Manchester, turning in a 5-star performance at the Academy. Liverpool also hosted two intimate shows, the first being Paolo Nutini‘s “no phones” shows at Jacaranda Records and The Cavern Club, both creating two of the more special atmospheres in 2022. The second saw the fast-rising Brooke Combe own the stage at a sold out Arts Club, cementing her status as one of the UK’s most promising new stars.

In the month that saw Neighbourhood Festival return to its inner city roots in Manchester, October also saw the city welcome Paolo Nutini for a much larger crowd at Victoria Warehouse. 2022 has undeniably been a strong year for Paolo, with one of the albums of the year and several breathtaking live shows making up for his seven years of absence. Kasabian took on Manchester Arena to put the icing on the cake for Serge’s move to frontman in the post Tom Meighan era, and the next big Geordie star in the making showcased his credentials, as Andrew Cushin impressed with a full band show at Gorilla.

As the year approached its end and people scrambled for Glastonbury 2023 tickets, the stand-out gig of November was undoubtedly Jamie T in Manchester, who enjoyed an equally-as-comendable comeback year as Paolo. The following month saw England crash out of the world cup defiantly against the French, but music and entertainment proved to be the real winner with Peter Kay making an emotional return to Manchester, whilst Stockport‘s Blossoms performed four nights at the Apollo following the setlist of the year at Brixton Academy, which saw Melanie C reprise her role as the sixth Blossom, along with special guest appearances from Rick Astley and Miles Kane.

What a year it has been. Keep an eye out for our “Top 10 Songs of the Year” and “Top 10 Albums of the Year” lists, which will be released shortly. We will also be revealing our tips for “Ones to Watch in 2023”, along with all the gigs and festivals to look forward to in the year ahead. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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“If you could go out for a drink with any three musicians, past or present, who would you choose and why?” – That’s what we ask our guests on the Fantasy Pints Podcast! Season 2 is underway now, with the latest episode below. You can check out all episodes on Spotify, Apple and YouTube, including interviews with DMA’s, The Wombats, Jamie Webster, Phoenix Nights’ psychic Clinton Baptiste, impressionist Scheiffer Bates and plenty more!

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