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We tried to add up the number of gigs we’ve been to this year and stopped when we got to the 200 mark. As usual the summer proved a lot less busy for gigs, but almost every weekend was taken up with a festival. We’ve had some tiny ‘I was there’ style gigs punctuated by some massive stadium behemoths as well as some treks to London and even Glasgow and of course plenty of nights at some of our favourite venues (the White Rabbit in Plymouth, Exeter Phoenix, Bristol Fleece and Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach – to name but a few). But what really rocked our world this year? Here’s some of our contributors’ top 10 gigs of 2011…


1) Against Me! – Norwich Arts Centre
This was one of 16 shows that we played with Florida punks, Against Me!, on tour this year and every single show was utterly inspirational. Relentless, passionate and, deservedly, number one.

2) Two Cow Garage – London Windmill

Country punks are ten-a-penny but 2CG wrote the rulebook – then set fire to it and sang teary-eyed ballads around the burning embers. A perfect blend of Lucero grit and disarming honesty.

3) Fleet Foxes + Villagers – Eden Project, Cornwall

Not only did Fleet Foxes swell our hearts to bursting with their harmony-rich, late ’60s-saluting folk confessions, Villagers came along for the ride to deliver an early spectacular suckerpunch.

4) Fucked Up – Plymouth White Rabbit
As anyone who’s witnessed them will attest, a Fucked Up show is a two-way street. But Damien Pink Eyes’ amusing offstage antics never detract from the absolute genius at work onstage.

5) Bangers – Plymouth Voodoo Lounge

These three Cornishmen, armed with Latterman riffs, melodic charm and a big positive sheen, are the cream of the homegrown punk underground. This show, amongst many others, proved why.

6) Apologies I Have None – Manchester Tiger Lounge

You must have a heart of stone if you don’t succomb to Apologies’ life-affirming punky rock. Here in Manchester, for 40 minutes, everything else fades into insignifance when they plug in and explode.

7) The wildcards – Annabels, Plymouth

Whether you play guitar or not, Vince Lee has the ability to make you feel wholly inadequate. And therein lies the essence of a band who take swing, rockabilly and blues to visceral extremes.

8 ) Valient Thorr – Plymouth White Rabbit
Overgrown woodland faeries with big beards and bigger riffs may not look good on paper but here, in the city’s best live venue, heavy rock revivalists, Valient Thorr, sound every bit their namesake.

9) Howlin Lord – Green Park Tavern, Bath
The rest of the band couldn’t make it so lead Howler, Mark Legassick, turned in a solo set of exquisite authenticity, evoking the twin peaks of Bob Dylan and Hank Williams to great effect.

10) Danny & the Champions of the World – 2000 Trees, Cheltenham

A sunny afternoon at the ever-lovable 2000 Trees festival and Danny Champ is on hand to siphon the spirit of Springsteen and woo us all with beautifully understated rock’n’roots charisma.


1) The Loose Salute – GyllyLive (Falmouth Festival)
They’re my favourite current band. Two albums in, and they already sound like one of the greats. And they can cut it live. Go see them, it would be absolutely stupid not to.

2) The Jasmine Minks – Borderline, London.
They cut some great singles and albums on the legendary Creation Records, and it was exciting to see them live in their original line-up. They’ve lost none of the magic.

3) Big Audio Dynamite – Beautiful Days Festival
Seeing Mick Jones in the flesh…I mean, come ON! The band were great too. I was into them when they were first around, and it’s as if no time has gone at all.

4) Morrissey – Plymouth Pavilions
His voice is the best it’s ever been. A charged up set, with passion and energy.

5) Primal Scream – Eden Sessions
Yes, we all know the routine: Screamadelica, classic album etc… Yes, it is, but the fact remains that it actually sounds better live now, than it did way back then.

6) The Loft – Lexington, London
Similar to The Jasmine Minks, in that this is another classic Creation band in fine form. And it was a real pleasure to play on the same bill as them (I’m Phil Wilson/The June Brides‘ bass-player)

7) Crazy Arm – White Rabbit, Plymouth
Hey, they’re not on this list just because Darren writes for this here magazine. They also happen to kick some mighty punk rock ass.

8 ) Aberdeen – Part Time Punks, LA
Another great band we played with, this time in LA. They sound like a classic British indie band, despite their Californian roots. But then that’s no surprise: they were on Sarah Records in the ‘90s.

9) Pop Will Eat Itself – Beautiful Days Festival
They were the surprise comeback of the year for me. Well, sort of comeback: Graham Crab is the only original member. This is definitely a whole new chapter for the Poppies, with a much harder edge.

10) The Meow Meows – The Albert, Brighton
Brighton’s very own ska-poppers, and another band that played with us. How do you get so many people on a tiny stage? That’s one of the great mysteries of The Meow Meows.

Photo: Angie Knight