Written by Sarah Williams. Cover photo: Fatalist by Hold My Pint Photography.
It’s reached that time of year when the music geeks among us get nostalgic. We start obsessively analysing and categorising the year’s musical experiences. We make lists upon lists upon lists, revisit all the records we’ve forgotten to listen to, and critically dissect the noises we love so much. Album of The Year articles are springing up all across the world wide web but first: let’s consider the best live shows of this year.
2022 has been an interesting year for live music. The music industry was forced to shut up shop in 2020, then 2021’s gigs were defined by nervous and celebratory returns, Covid scares and cancellations. Gigs are ‘back to normal’ now, but music venues have been hit by rising energy prices and ticket sales have been wildly unpredictable. It’s always important to support your local scene, but it certainly does feel like ‘now more than ever’.
Read on for a geeky, personal recollection of my favourite events this year. Of the 70+ gigs I’ve been to this year, these were my favourite punk rock sets of 2022:
I’m lucky enough to have had my face blown clean off by several bands this year. 2022 started with Incisions‘ album launch show at the Star & Garter, where I remember being particularly impressed by Going Off and Fatalist. Watching Incisions blossom into the hardcore headliners they deserve to be felt like a historic event. My most recent punk show was Lenmania III, where Rad Pitt took a sledgehammer to my brain and my expectations. Bookers of festivals: please take note.
One of this year’s seminal gigs for me was, unexpectedly, a tiny show at The Old Pint Pot in Salford. It was part of Bruise Control and Sniff‘s UK tour. It was my first time seeing The Latchkey Kids, who I instantly fell in love with. They’ve become firm favourites of mine, and I co-promoted their album launch show for the 6/8 Sessions in October. I’ve seen Sniff four times this year – his live performance is truly unique – but I think this was a personal favourite. Bruise Control is also a band I’ve seen more than most this year, but that Old Pint Pot gig was a particularly memorable one – mainly for the moment that guitarist Niall Griffin nearly decapitated vocalist Jimbob Taylor in the process of smashing his guitar at the end of the set.
Alongside Bruise Control, I believe Random Hand is the band I’ve seen live the most often in 2022. They kicked off the year with a full performance of Seething Is Believing in Leeds, with support from The JB Conspiracy, Roughneck Riot and Mr Shiraz. I remember feeling like that gig had lit a fire under me; seeing so many favourite bands was truly invigorating. That said, my two favourite Random Hand shows this year were their headline set at Manchester Punk Fest and a tiny Sunday matinee show at The Cricketers in Keighley – a farewell to a pub the size of a postage stamp.
The two big punk rock highlights for me have, unsurprisingly, been Outbreak Fest and Manchester Punk Fest. When refining my list of ‘best live shows’ I found myself with too many sets to choose from, from both festivals. From Outbreak, I picked Militarie Gun, Drain and One Step Closer as my personal favourites, but the mantle could equally have gone to Zulu, Dare, Year of The Knife or Walter Schriefels‘ surprise acoustic set. The moment when thousands of people screamed ‘lie to me’ along with Basement‘s Whole will remain emblazoned on my mind forever, as will watching countless friends throw themselves off-stage during Turnstile‘s raucous headline slot.
Similarly, the best sets I’ve chosen from Manchester Punk Fest are Random Hand, Sam Russo and Forever Unclean, but I was also blown away by Corrupt Vision, NEXØ, Svalbard or A Wilhelm Scream.
There are a few other bands I was particularly impressed by this year. Last Hounds were astoundingly good when supporting Descendents in London. Fiddlehead were incredible Rebellion, Manchester in the summer, as were Martha in the winter. Making Friends are the greatest thing to hit skatepunk this year; I saw them at Fuel in Withington. Also seen at Fuel: ALLDEEPENDS and Goodbye Blue Monday were both endearing and musically delightful. Clowns were impressively explosive at The Key Club in Leeds.
For the Shout Louder audience, I’ve kept my list to punk rock shows, but I’ve seen some incredible artists from other genres this year too. My other highlights of the year include:
- Amigo The Devil at Night & Day Cafe, Manchester;
- Nubiyan Twist at The Parish, Huddersfield;
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs at O2 Apollo, Manchester;
- Hiatus Kaiyote and Kojey Radical at Albert Hall, Manchester;
- Ezra Collective intimate album-launch show at Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds; and
- Marlowe and Opus Kink at YES, Manchester.
Keep your eyes peeled for further 2022 round-up posts in the next few days.
In the meantime, I’ve curated a playlist for you with all 2022’s finest punk rock delights, which you can enjoy here:
Written by Sarah Williams.
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