For myself and The West Review it’s been a busy ol’ year. Having carted myself off to an array of British festivals, come September I was something of a broken man. With every other weekend bringing an amazing high of music and escapism, followed by the dreaded fall back to civilisation, and the subsequent road to recovery and reality. And as you might imagine, I’ve subsequently seen a whole bunch of music, some good, some bad, some mind-blowing, and some disappointing. To find out who’s responsible for these accolades, read on.
Best Performance – Portishead, Latitude
It’s not often that I’m left speechless, but Portishead’s headline appearance at Latitude will go down as one of the best performances I’ve ever seen, let alone this year. Beth Gibbons was the undisputed queen of the weekend with her commanding, faultless display of showmanship, not to mention her effortless vocal display. The group played an array of renowned Dummy classics such as Glory Box and Roads, as well as tracks from their other albums, the self-titled Portishead, and 2008’s Third. To read a full review of Portishead’s performance, read on here.
Honourable mentions- Tame Impala, The Chemical Brothers, Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper
Best Festival – Latitude
Latitude is an incredible festival, one I hope to attend every year from now on, and one I cannot recommend enough. While the [fairly] niche musical lineup won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, like myself, the rest of the festival’s attractions are enough to take yourself along. The incredible execution both naturally and artistically gives way to an oasis of pop culture complimented with the picturesque British setting. There are an array of details and perfections that set Latitude apart this year, all of which can be found in my full review.
Honourable mentions- Bestival
Best Moment – Portishead Bringing Thom Yorke On Stage To Perform ‘The Rip’ at Latitude
The pioneering trip hop outfit from my hometown of Bristol not only scooped up the best performance of the year, but also the best moment. Towards the end of their headline spot at Latitude Festival, after the bigger singles landed with awe, the lights went down, the band exited and the calls for an encore began. Shortly, the group returned with the chords of The Rip echoing around the Suffolk countryside, the lights remained dim and Beth Gibbons began to work her charm, only for Radiohead’s Thom Yorke to join in at the second verse. To experience a flavour of this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence- peep my Instagram post above.
Honourable mentions- Kendrick Lamar dropping Maad City at Reading, Noel Gallagher closing Latitude Festival with Don’t Look Back In Anger, Lee Nelson gatecrashing Kanye West’s Glastonbury performance
Biggest Surprise – Modestep, NASS
Now Modestep probably aren’t an artist who’re going to be clearing up at the BRITs or the GRAMMYs any time soon, but they’re definitely a good group. They’ve had a good number of notable tracks under their belt, and their recently released London Road was a solid piece of music. But nobody could prepare me for their opening [for me] performance at NASS back in July, while their own tracks were massively received, it was their excellently integrated drum & bass anthems that blew us away. What began with TC’s Get Down Low, in which the audience were commanded to do exactly that, manically exploded into DJ Hazard’s Mr Happy, which is nothing short of genius.
Honourable mentions- Hudson Mohawke, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Lianne La Havas, Kindness
Worst Performance – alt-J, Latitude
Not sure if Hozier or alt-J were the worthy receiver of the worst performance of the year award, but either way, they both need some knocking down a peg or two. While Hozier just bored me to tears, alt-J had me fuming, as well as being bored to tears. While Hozier I watched with my friends and could complain about along with them because they felt the same, alt-J I had to sit through their ‘headline’ performance with my girlfriend and her recently-met friends, so I had to shut up and endure it, until now. Simply put- I don’t know who the hell alt-J think they are. The British group sauntered out like they didn’t give it a shit, as if they were gracing us with their presence, with a huge white silhouetting light behind them, it was as if Prince himself had walked out on stage. But once this posey, pontificating, example-of-everything-wrong-with-contemporary-music began their mind-numbing performance, I realised there’s something truly wrong with the world, when they are deemed a headline act.
Other Worst Performance – Hozier, Glastonbury
I couldn’t let Hozier get away without a word or two of criticism either. In what will go down as the worst performance I’ve ever seen, and a record I don’t see being broken anytime soon, Hozier’s appearance at Glastonbury was one to forget. A mindless, pontificating bore-fest from start to finish, droning through the monotony of his debut album, with the only blip of anything coming with a cover of Ariana Grande’s Problem. I say ‘blip of anything’ because it was the most laughable bit. ‘Okay guys we’re gonna do something a bit more fun, to get you all dancing’. How you can make such a catchy pop song sound so dread-filled really is something to marvel at.
Biggest Disappointment – Kanye West, Glastonbury
I’m sorry Kanye, but I was one of your biggest defendants when it came to your Glastonbury Festival performance, and unfortunately you didn’t live up to the hype. The entire weekend, the only thing on anybody’s mind was Kanye West; which guests would he bring out? What surprises would he pull? What’s his stage design going to be like? Unfortunately he didn’t do any of these things. In what is typical and somewhat predictably Kanye, he thought that his performance at Glastonbury made him ‘the greatest rockstar in the world’, when really, it showed he had the greatest ego. Full review here.