twr: the best performances of 2018

best perf

It’s been a busy ol’ year for all those involved in the music industry. New festivals seem to pop up by the week, free or invite-only events just around every corner, and with all the industry’s finest announcing shows seemingly by the day.

Next year sees the return of Glastonbury, not to mention huge stadium tours from the likes of Muse, Childish Gambino, Massive Attack and Fleetwood Mac to name a few, but even with this all on the horizon, 2019 needs to do a lot to live up to 2018. Here we revisit some of our favourite shows from the year – the 20 best performances of 2018.

 

best of 18

 

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10Chase & Status
Genre: 
Drum and bass
Where: 
TheLAB, London
Date: 
December 7th
Set:
RTRN II JUNGLE DJ Set ft Rage

Chase & Status are arguably the biggest drum and bass act the genre has to offer, and the duo returned to the studio last year with their questionable fourth album Tribes. After its poor reception from fans and critics alike, Chase & Status reinvented themselves under their RTRN II JUNGLE moniker for a strong 2018.

After taking their all-new jungle-fronted show to Motion and Printworks to name a few, Chase & Status stopped by Mixmag’s TheLAB earlier this month for an intimate tightly-knit show. Classic DnB jams Take Me Away and If We Ever sat alongside scene-shaking new tracks from Shy FX (Roll The Dice) and the duo themselves (Retreat2018), proving Chase & Status’ return to jungle was a successful one.

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9LSB ft Dynamite MC
Genre: Drum and bass
Where: Studio 338
Date: December 16th
Event: Hospitality Christmas event

For their first London show in two years, Hospitality brought out the big guns for a huge Christmas event at Studio 338. London Elektricity, Nu:Tone and Keeno were among the night’s highlights, alongside a final UK show for Fred V & Grafix.

Extravagant lights, visuals, sound and production values aside, LSB was the night’s takeaway selector, with his inch-perfect, silky-smooth liquid set, with support from one of the genre’s finest – Dynamite MC. But perhaps what made LSB just so memorable, is that most of his set was comprised of his own material, with Missing You, Parallel, New Day and The View all filling the room with their euphoric brilliance.

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8Flying Lotus
Genre: Experimental electronica
Where: Motion, Bristol
Date: December 14th
Special guests: Iglooghost + Lapalux

Journeying through clap-heavy trap, to layered percussive impro-jazz, stopping at manic dubstep and psychedelic hip-hop along the way, FlyLo’s live show is among the most all-encompassing out there.

The visuals were as extravagant, scattered and trippy as one would expect, with acid-primed spirographs, species-crossing creatures, vast deserted plains, haunted houses and half-dead zombie babies all popping off the screen in immersive 3D brilliance.

The FlyLo live experience is like nothing out there at the moment, and a must-see show that takes advantage of the jarring unpredictable music he’s renowned for. Coupled with Motion’s polished, high production values, Flying Lotus live in Bristol was a spectacle to say the least.

 

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7Jenna & The Gs
Genre: 
Jazz/soul/drum and bass
Where: 
Boomtown Fair, Winchester
Date: 
August 10th
Quote: ‘I hope I’m doing alright cus I just necked a loada shrooms’

Jenna G, the undisputed queen of drum and bass, is perhaps best-known for her collaborations with Chase & Status, Netsky and Break to name a few. But since then she’s kept something a low profile, quietly reevaluating her sound behind the scenes, giving birth to Jenna & The Gs.

Jenna & The Gs is a full live band project complete with a brass section and drummer, one that bridges the gap between jazz, soul and drum and bass. With Jenna at the forefront owning the stage with a nonchalant swagger, the band churned through her collaborations mentioned above, as well as DnB classics like DJ Marky’s LK or Shy FX’s Feelings.

 

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6Orbital (LIVE)
Genre: Electronic
Where: TheLAB, London
Date: December 2nd
Price: Free

The world-famous LAB series hosted by Mixmag has been around since 2012, and was officially announced back then with a rare live set from Orbital. Returning to The LAB this year, the electronic pioneers went all-out for their hour plus set, ignoring the fact we were all in an office, and acting more as if they were headlining Glastonbury.

The duo churned through timeless Orbital classics, and celebrated new tracks from their ninth studio album Monsters Exist. With their trademark headlights shining amongst the free beers and Mixmag’s glittery high-spec office, the duo proved once again why they’re one of the greatest electronic acts out there.

 

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5Olafur Arnalds
Genre:
 Contemporary classical
Where: Royal Albert Hall, London
Date: May 14th
Support: Manu Delago

Icelandic BAFTA-award winning composer Olafur Arnalds, often known as one half of ambient techno duo Kiasmos, was absolutely breathtaking. Removed to tears and/or overwhelmed by the beauty and depth of his performance, all in attendance were utterly hypnotised and enthralled by the delicacy, the power and the magic of his show.

Front and centre on grand piano, with support from percussionists and a string section, there’s justification in Arnalds being recognised as one of the most important contemporary-classical musicians in the world.

 

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4Gorillaz
Genre:
Pop
Where: Boomtown Fair, Winchester
Date: August 11th
Special guests: De La Soul, Little Simz, Shaun Ryder, Bootie Brown

Boomtown took huge huge steps this year in announcing Damon Albarn and co. as 2018 Saturday night headliners. Notoriously loyal and unbudging on its culture, roots and heritage, Gorillaz’s main stage performance will forever go down in the history of Boomtown, as a moment that changed its direction and defined its future.

The magnitude and context of the event aside, Gorillaz were worthy headliners, one that went above and beyond a show and became more of an experience. Coupled with an extensive setlist teeming with special guests, between Boomtown and the band’s deranged, far-out, off-kilter legacies, the pairing was a legitimate match made in heaven.

 

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3Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Genre:
Rock
Where: SWX, Bristol
Date: May 25th
Support: The Marta

After dropping by Bristol for a surprise performance in the South West, Ruban Nielson, the brains behind New Zealand psych-rock group Unknown Mortal Orchestra, can comfortably claim frontman of the year among other accolades.

A sonically-perfect performance of stunning instrumentation, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s ever-growing set of psych-rock makes for an easy choice for band performance of the year. A must-see show by an extremely talented group of musicians, and if their hour set is anything to go by, particularly with Nielson at the helm, UMO is going places.

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2Underworld
Genre:
Electronic
Where: Village Underground, London
Date: December 2nd
Support: Lemmy Ashton, Justin Robertson

At 59 and 61 years old respectively, Rick Smith and Karl Hyde of Underworld have been around the block a few times to know how to put on a show.

Last performing in London last March at a sold-out event at Alexandra Palace, this time around the all-new Underworld show was all about intimacy, recalling the earlier years of the band. With a setlist expertly crafted around a combo of new material (Another Silent Way, Dexter’s Chalk) and classic anthems (Jumbo, King of Snake), an Underworld live performance is among the best in the industry.

Karl Hyde’s vocals are as sharp as they’ve ever been, as charismatic a frontman as they come, with Smith just as flawless on production duties. And coupled with the powerful Village Underground soundsystem and light display, made for yet another flawless Underworld performance.

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1Bicep (LIVE)
Genre: 
Electronic
Where: Printworks, London
Date: November 22nd
Support: rRoxymore (LIVE) + Cromby

With their string of sold-out shows at Printworks, Bicep have comfortably asserted themselves as an undisputed powerhouse within electronic music. In taking their show from sweaty underground clubs, to one of the most forward-thinking, boundary-pushing venues in the country, Bicep have nonchalantly elevated their stock to stadium-status.

Bicep went further afield with their selections, delving deep into their discography for huge renditions of Dahlia, Just and Darwin to name a few. New album gems Rain, Vale, Orca, Opal, Aura and of course a Glue finale, were also among the show’s many many highlights.

The genre-defying duo are now true heirs to the thrones left up for grabs by The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy, a feat simply out of reach for near-misses like Chase & Status and Disclosure. If these live shows are anything to go by – Bicep have every chance in becoming the next great electronic music headliner.

 

Like this list? Check out our best songs of 2018 here

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