Review of 2022

After only managing 23 gigs in 2021. This year was closer to being a normal year. Despite missing about a dozen gigs, I still managed 156 gigs.

The year didn’t start off well, catching COVID over Christmas causing me to miss the Rockaway Beach festival at the beginning of January. In some way, catching COVID was a blessing. I felt I had some COVID protection during the first few months of the year and it helped me open up a bit more and I know I attended more gigs than I might have otherwise.

Changes to working patterns, allowing me to work from home, made it easier to get to gigs as I didn’t have to fight traffic on the A1 every evening before catching a train into London. But oddly, it seemed to reduce my enthusiasm for Friday night gigs. I often wanted to stay in and relax after a week of work. Trains were another issue this year. Weekend trains continued to be unreliable so I rarely attended Saturday night gigs. Strikes caused me to miss a few more.

One big saving grace was DICE. More promoters recognised the benefit of allowing the audience to return tickets to a waiting list. It helps reassure us that we can get our money back if we catch COVID. Despite missing several gigs this year, in most cases I didn’t lose any money as people picked them up from DICE.

Hertfordshire got a new venue, the Corn Exchange in Hertford. Managed by the excellent team from The Horn in St Albans. It has all the elements to be a great venue for Hertfordshire. Hopefully, the people of Hertford will embrace it in 2023.

The annual trip to the Great Escape proved to be a disappointment. The venues were too busy and the festival seemed to place too much emphasis on the conference attendees being allowed in first. Hopefully, they will tweak things for 2023.

Dark, gothy post-punk bands were still the major influence on me this year. But there were signs of the poppier sound that emerged in the early 80s making a comeback again. I think 2023 could see a shift to a lighter sound.

New from us, was our first online magazine. Featuring articles from the first half of the year. Unfortunately, I struggled to find the time to create an issue 2. I was out gigging too much. I enjoyed producing it, so hope I can find the time to produce future issues.

Best Festival: Krankenhaus

A festival for Sea Power fans. Featuring three sets from the band. A whole host of excellent bands. A fantastic venue, Muncaster Castle, with helpful, friendly staff. A range of other activities such as talks, fell walks, trips on a miniature train, a dog and bird of prey shows and a friendly audience. It was a very special festival.

Best Gig: Richard Dawson with Circle

The Sea Power gigs this year were special. Their Roundhouse gig was special for me. It was my first opportunity to photograph the amazing venue. But as they have won the ‘Best Festival’ award, I will focus on some of the other impressive gigs in 2023.

Benefits played their first London show. Their abrasive art-noise sound with Kingsley’s poetry challenged the listener. At each successive show, they got better and better.

A departure for us was seeing the Pet Shop Boys at the Electric Ballroom. A fun diversion from our usual gigs

Jack White released his second album of the year and played Rough Trade. I say played Rough Trade. It was a very short and sweet 15 minute set. But it was still worth queuing for 90 minutes to see Jack play such a small venue.

Richard Dawson had the time of his life playing a fun metal show with Finish metal band Circle. I got the feeling he would have had just as much fun playing to an empty room. Thankfully, we were all invited to his party and because of this I’m going to make this my gig of the year. I really didn’t know what to expect. I don’t even know if I really enjoyed the music. I just know I left the venue with a beaming smile.

Band of the year: Sea Power

Great album. Great Gigs. Great festival.

Best new band: Deadletter

Although 2022 was my first chance at catching Benefits. I was aware of their output. Deadletter on the other hand, were a new discovery when I saw them play an Independent Venue Week gig at the Social. Since then I have seen them several times. Each time, they have got better and better.

Best gig photo: Xenia Pestova Bennett

So many photos to choose from. But there is one photo I love more than any other. It is a photo of the talented composer and pianist, Xenia Pestrova Bennett playing Daylight Music. It is a music photo that doesn’t feature the piano. It shows the Xenia feeling the music as she is playing, with a steam of light through the church’s window. I love the way my exposure for the strong light on her face made the background disappear to black, putting us in her world. No distractions. Only the music.

Album Of The Year: Everything Was Forever