Christmas has been and it will soon be time to bring in 2024, so we are looking back at some of the best musical moments of the last 12 months.
We have picked out our Top 5 live music moments from 2023, featuring some northern artist collaborations, a huge live return, and landmark headline shows.
From the 200,000 plus capacity of Glastonbury to the 800-strong New Century Hall in Manchester, our list ranges from the UK’s biggest festivals to the intimate northern shows.
5 – THE LATHUMS HEADLINE CASTLEFIELD BOWL
Following their Glastonbury debut and a second number one album, Wigan’s indie chart-toppers took on Sounds of the City at Manchester’s Castlefield Bowl earlier this year.
As one of Manchester’s finest and most popular outdoor venues, Castlefield Bowl embodies the atmosphere of a UK festival combined with an intimate and unique setting for a live show.
It has been the Manchester music stepping stone for the likes of Courteeners and Blossoms in recent years, therefore it was a landmark and deserved moment for The Lathums in their fast-rising career.
The rain didn’t put people off, if anything it brought the fans together, for a singalong, coming-of-age evening which spanned the band’s biggest tracks from their first two records.
4 – BLOSSOMS & RICK ASTLEY SECRET SET AT GLASTONBURY
The collaboration nobody knew they needed, but somehow it just worked when Blossoms and Rick Astley joined forces in 2021 to perform The Smiths’ songs.
Initially started as just a bit of fun between fans of the band at the end of a Blossoms show in London, it soon turned into an official tour with a full set of covers.
This year, the Stockport band and Newton-le-Willows singer brought the performance to a secret set in front of a packed out tent at Glastonbury Festival.
Not only was it a hit to the many in attendance, those of us unlucky to not get tickets could watch along live from home after the set time was confirmed on social media!
3 – ARCTIC MONKEYS’ UK TOUR RETURN
After headlining Reading & Leeds in 2022 and releasing the genius yet divisive record, ‘The Car’, Arctic Monkeys finally returned to the UK & Ireland for a full tour.
Featuring changing setlists from show to show, the tour included dates at the Emirates Stadium, Emirates Old Trafford, and the long-rumoured homecoming shows at Sheffield’s Hillsborough Park.
The Monkeys were on fine form, bringing some of the early hits back to the setlist, and allowing latest creations such as Body Paint and Sculptures of Anything Goes to take on a life of their own on the live stage.
Arctic Monkeys also headlined Glastonbury again in 2023, and hopefully it won’t be too long before we see the Sheffield band returning with new music and live shows again.
2 – SQUID ON ANOTHER LEVEL AT NEW CENTURY HALL
This was a big contender for gig of the year, as experimental post punk outfit, Squid, took on a sold out New Century Hall in Manchester.
Squid created a unique and captivating live show comparable to fellow genre flag-flyers, Black Country, New Road, which highlighted musical intricacies and the plethora of talent throughout the band.
From the improvised live version of GSK to the omission of early success and live favourite, Houseplants, the set was symbolic of a band progressing and moving with their own unharnessed musical creations, both on record and in their live performances.
Make no mistake, this is one of the most exciting bands the UK has produced in recent times, and a must-see on their next headline tour.
1 – PAUL HEATON & RIANNE DOWNEY HEADLINE NBHD WEEKENDER
And last but not least, our favourite live moment of 2023 was this festival headlining collaboration between The Housemartins and The Beautiful South singer-songwriter, Paul Heaton, and up and coming Scottish star, Rianne Downey.
When Jacqui Abbott had to step down from touring duties due to illness, “Paul Heaton and Special Guest” was added to their festival lineup inclusions.
It was then confirmed shortly before their headline show at Neighbourhood Weekender that Paul was joining forces with Rianne, providing an incredible opportunity to a grassroots artist to perform in front of a huge festival crowd.
Rianne Downey, who had barely performed live prior to 2020, provided the perfect replacement for Jacqui and performed with a confidence that would suggest decades of experience. She was then confirmed for the rest of Paul’s shows this year, so quite an impression was made!
So there are some of our favourite live moments of 2023. Have we missed your favourite? Get in touch!
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