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2010 was a cracking year for gigs in the South West with some big names making the trip down to Exeter, Plymouth and Falmouth meaning Devon and Cornwall folk didn’t have to trek up to Bristol for their fix. As well as hot new acts taking to the stage of some of the region’s most intimate venues we had plenty of action from the old hat acts, many of whom combined their gigs with talks and signings. South West reviewer Arash Torabi tells us what his top 10 gigs of 2010 were and why…

1. Midlake, Exeter Lemongrove (October)
I went to see this lot with one of our fabulous editors, Laura (West and South Wales ed). I always thought of them as very folky, which is fine by me, but boy do they rock live!

2. Sparrow and the Workshop, Plymouth Hippo (March)
Totally awesome blend of country, rock & roll and folk, and the most exciting new band around, I reckon. I wrote top reviews for their album and one of their EPs in the mag, and they also have a brand new EP out.

3. Trembling Bells, Totnes Barrelhouse (December)
Again, the folk thing is a broad pallet. They have nothing in common with the above bands, apart from releasing a brilliant album this year and proving that they can cut it live.

4. Acoustica Festival at Exeter Phoenix (September)
Many highlights: The RG Morrison (I interviewed them in the South west edition of the mag), DJ Mahsa (US-based Persian DJ) and Count to Fire (Exeter’s own alt-country heroes)

5. The Fall, Exeter Phoenix.
The band I play in (Phil Wilson’s band) supported them. I met Mark E Smith, he was very friendly, and The Fall rocked. And it was all for cheridee.. well, Phonic FM, the radio station at which your favourite magazine has a show.

6. Madness, Plymouth Pavilions
I’ve seen them loads of times, and to be honest I’m a bit tired of hearing the big hits… but it’s still Madness!

7. Pama International, Plymouth Hippo (March)
UK reggae band with tonnes of soul, that will have split by the time you read this. Shame. Still, they brought out a great album last year, which the mighty Mad Professor remixed recently. Is there a better way for a reggae band to end?

8. Phil Wilson, London, Baby Honey Club
OK. I’m the bass player in the band, so this is a bit of a daft (if slightly egotistic) choice. But hey, I didn’t write the songs, so can I just say how much I love them? I can? Thank you.

9. A Fine Day For Sailing- Exeter Phoenix
The South West’s own answer to Television Personalities, recently moved to London. Speaking of TVPs: the band’s main-man, Dan Treacy is producing AFDFS’s next album.

10. The Damerels- Plymouth, Underground
Fantastic ballsy garage rock & roll from…Plymouth. Yes, Plymouth. I just interviewed them, so check the February issue of 247 South West Edition.