Review of 2020

There is not much I can say about 2020, that hasn’t been said many times before. Just like everyone, it’s not the year I had planned. But all my family and friends are still here and for me that’s a measure of it being a successful year.

I had started 2020 positively. This website was completely revamped. I switched the site from blog to more of a magazine layout. I moved my music tweets and photographs to new accounts under the relaunched ‘Down at the Front’ name. My intention was to pick up a few more photo passes and to document more of the gigs I photographed. I also planned to go to less gigs to help me save for another SXSW trip in 2021. Hopefully, using the revamped content filled website as a means of getting a SXSW photo pass.

In March, everything stopped. While there has been limited socially distanced gigs since September, I personally do not feel COVID numbers justified venues opening, so I’ve stayed away. Online gigs have been mildly diverting, but most suffer from a lack of production values, with artists playing to their mobile phone with inevitable poor sound, video and a lack of atmosphere.

Best Festival: Rockaway Beach

Unbelievably, I managed to get to a festival. Rockaway Beach takes place in January at Butlins in Bognor Regis. It’s usually has a small lineup which usually leaves me wanting more. But this year, I decided to use the festival to blow away the post-Christmas blues and I am really glad I did. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have managed to get to a festival.

Best Gig: Life at Rockaway Beach

Gig of the year was by Life. Again showing they are ready to play bigger stages. They blew away the Rockaway Beach crowd with their usual mixture of great tunes and exuberant performance.

Band of the year: The Murder Capital

I gave my album of the year in 2019 to the Fontaines DC. But in hindsight, The Murder Capital’s ‘When I Have Fears’ should have been album of the year. It’s the album I’ve returned to most often. I find ‘On Twisted Ground’ simply beautiful and its emotion heft makes the Murder Capital live gigs special. A moment of reflection their counterparts lack. The Electric Ballroom gig, unfortunately showed this song may not make the transition with them to the larger venues. With a number of the drunk crowd struggling to keep quiet. But I hope to god it stays in the set. It’s a beautiful song.

Best new band: Black Country New Road

It wasn’t the greatest year for discovering new music. Odd Morris and Working Men’s Club were both excellent supports for Murder Capital at the 100 Club and I will definitely try and catch both again.

At this year’s Rockaway Beach festival, the afternoon sessions again threw up some interesting new bands. Eyesore and the Jinx,  The Sweet Release of Death and Trupa Trupa were new discoveries. Rockaway also gave me the opportunity to finally catch up with a band I’ve had tickets to see, but never managed to catch them, Black Country New Road.

Black Country New Road at Rockaway Beach

Best gig photo: Life

Life were great to photograph at Rockaway Beach. I think this photo tells it’s own story

Life at Rockaway Beach

Album of the Year: Now Here’s An Echo From Your Future – Girls In Synthesis

As mentioned on my rundown of 2020 albums. It’s been a very odd year. I’ve listened to more music. But I’ve not listened to the same depth as normal due to the lack of commuting to work in the car or on the train to gigs. I’m still very much in my post-punk phase. There’s so many good bands out there at the moment. The one that stood out this year was Girls In Synthesis’ excellent album ‘Now Here’s an echo from your Future’.

EP of the Year: 176 – POZI

I don’t normally list EPs. But I’ve played 176 by Pozi, more than anything else. Catchy post-punk violin fused pop at its best.