The year got off to a wonderfully shaky start with a hurriedly arranged visit from Pete Doherty s Babyshambles. Positioning themselves somewhere between Nirvana and Pulp, this raw sounding, extremely literate and exceedingly British band proved they deser
The year got off to a wonderfully shaky start with a hurriedly arranged visit from Pete Doherty's Babyshambles.
Positioning themselves somewhere between Nirvana and Pulp, this raw sounding, extremely literate and exceedingly British band proved they deserved every bit of the hype and attention they received.
Nick Cave's solo concert at Cambridge Corn Exchange was a rare regional date for the gothic Aussie. The force of his foreboding songs and intimidating presence cast an unsettling spell in such an intimate venue.
Gene Pitney's UK tour in the spring was sadly to be his last. The legendary singer died in Cardiff just weeks after a magical night at Peterborough's Broadway Theatre. I may not have been born when he first hit the charts, but his 1980s duet with Marc Almond on Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart will always be one of my favourite tracks. To hear Gene Pitney sing it with such passion was extremely moving.
My first trip to the Cambridge Folk Festival was one of my year's highlights. However, it was away from the main stages that I found my most memorable moment. Idlewild's Roddy Woomble played a short set to a tiny, but steadily growing crowd of admirers. Backed by acoustic guitar, violin and even Kate Rusby for one song - it was a special few minutes.
Sparks at Cambridge Corn Exchange were as kooky as they come, but brought with them one of the most inventive rock shows I've ever seen. Great, offbeat songs, brilliantly performed. And we got to hear Dick Around twice - surely one of the songs of the year.
With eyes hidden under his long blonde hair, Evan Dando brought his reincarnated Lemonheads to Cambridge armed with an expansive setlist reaching back into the band's rich history - and dipping into his own solo material. I was just slightly disappointed there wasn't more material from the new self-titled album - easily one of my favourite of the year.
James Dean Bradfield's storming Junction gig made me re-evaluate a singer, songwriter and guitarist that I've admired for many years - and I came to the conclusion that he's still not given the credit he deserves. For edgy passionate rock look no further than this living legend.
Ron Sexsmith's intricate, but powerful country tinged rock was no spectacular event, but showed that first-class songs can reveal their beauty at first listen. I'll remember this show as my introduction to a singer-songwriter whose talent and charm would stand out among a decade of gigs.
Finally, two gigs that meant such a lot to me were the Bob Dylan and Neil Young themed acoustic nights at The George pub in Fenstanton. Although it was the songs of Dylan and Young that brought the artists and audience together - the events were equally about the original songs of the acts that performed. The great crowds were open to hearing new, original songs - no one was forced to become a human jukebox for the night - the atmosphere at both events was very special and both nights were a great success. CHRIS BOLAND