January 11, 2011

The Top Ten Musical Events From 2010

By Chris Rose

Instead of the top cds, I opted for the top musical events of the year. Truth is, I am hard pressed to find 10 cds that made it to heavy rotation, while several events, which include some cd releases, still resonate. The following list is in no particular order.
1. The Who(res) @ the Stupor Bowl: This one rates for the sheer schadenfreude element. Seeing Pete-ophile Townsend and his Shrek-like mule Roger Donkey shill CSI themes badly for millions of people and millions of dollars while having an Uncle Ernie-esque wardrobe malfunction was karmic justice. It was like the Catholic Church had a house band.

"The Who at the Super Bowl -- shilling CSI themes badly for

millions of people and millions of dollars while having an

Uncle Ernie-esque wardrobe malfunction.  It was like the

Catholic Church had a house band."

I will never forgive the Who for their zero days of mourning over John Entwhistle’s death, Pete’s kiddie porn “research” for a book that never surfaced, or for living in the rearview ever since Moonie croaked. New Orleans natives had suffered enough, and after this half time show, they deserved their Saints winning the game.

2. Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach cd and live show: In my youth, I picked Noel and Liam in the famed and stupid Britpop wars, as Blur seemed to be a bunch of wankerish chavs. Later in life, Gorillaz too seemed like a naff notion, a silly cartoon band.  With Plastic Beach, however, I am feasting on my words. This cd is sophisticated and visionary, made even better in the live setting. Mick and Paul from the Clash, Bobby Womack and a cast of dozens contributed to what was for me the show of the year. It was big and bright and blazing – a blinding combination of stellar musicality, arrangements, and visuals. I seldom pine for a dvd archive, but this tour merits one.


"Ronnie James Dio invented the devil horns and actually is

more alive in death than Ozzy is in life. RIP!"

3. Peter Steele & Dio RIP: The man of Steele is one of few true GutterCandy heroes, so his passing was a tragedy of seismic proportions. Petey’s dour sense of self and self-deprecating humor drove Type O Negative and guided their sound, lyrics and corresponding “brand.” Massive in physicality and personality, Petey never let go his working class roots and celebrated life and death with a Romantic yet gothic sensibility.  Ronnie James Dio invented the devil horns and actually is more alive in death than Ozzy is in life. RIP! There can be no replacements.

4. New Model Army’s 30th Anniversary box set and live show(s): Justin Sullivan’s intensity of spirit and vision seems wiser than New Model Army’s 30 years and the band’s energy seems way younger than that. At the helm of NMA, Justin ensures the band’s humility and generosity which in turn propels the powerful dedication of their fan base. People travelled epic distances to witness their two night marathons in various cities to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Each night showcased four different songs from each album with no duplicates. GutterCandy caught the first two shows in Brooklyn where they even found occasion to slip in a new song. True Timeless Grit!

5. Killing Joke’s Absolute Dissent cd and live show: Ok, I am fickle, no two ways.

Mere weeks ago, I said Steel Panther was what these times required. A tad hyperbolic, no doubt, but I still meant it when I said it.

Upon further reflection and after catching the films Inside Job and the Wall Street 2, there is also no doubt that Killing Joke are what these times require. On their latest release, Absolute Dissent, the first in 30 years to feature all four original members, Killing Joke tackle the times with a lethal focus to produce a mise-en-scène to these “end of daze” that is so accurate and appropriate that it hasn’t left my iPod. Unshakingly, they hold up a mirror to our world and the results are compelling, alluring, and frightening.


6. Grinderman’s cd and live show: I liked the Birthday Party but never saw the God-likeness that many of my cronies did. However, the Grinderman 2 cd and tour has me revisiting the Nick Cave is God concept; the fact that “Cave” is Obama’s favorite verb also plays a part in this revisitation. Aging is a foe and friend to this Cave-fronted outfit as collectively the band rage between extended belly laughs (extended bellies and extended laughs) at the dimming of the light, and at how their sexuality is inching outside their grasp, so to speak, or painting them in an ultra slimy pervie light. The show, Nick’s first time back in Vancouver after 16 years, was a religious experience, so if Nick isn’t God, he at least has the Man on speed (dial).

7. Public Image Limited @ Coachella: Rotten Johnny Lydon is an extreme. He can go from zero to hero in a millisecond and back again just as fast. While I’m not sure what to believe about the Kele incident, I am sure his quality control is out of control in terms of his public image (lower case) and hucksterism. He’s very capable of pumping out - or aligning himself to - crap and lots of it for any sort of fast cash. To this end, I was gobsmacked at how outstanding Public Image Ltd was at Coachella. There was a sense of pride that enveloped the performance with top notch song choice and musicianship. When Johnny wants to be good, he can be great – a fact he doesn’t want us to remember that often.

"If Nick Cave isn’t God, he at least has the Man on speed (dial)" 

8. The National’s live show: Despite them being a Brooklyn band, I often joke that the National are Vancouver’s house band, given how frequently they play here. Their two shows in Stanley Park in support of High Violet were highly memorable. They have always been a far superior live band to most others, and even shockingly superior live to their cds. 2010 was no different. While they have graduated to the big stage from their phenomenal Richards on Richards shows in 2006 and 2007, their rapid ascent has only enhanced their work ethic, creativity and performance.

9. MUSE’s live show: I mourn not being able to see MUSE at the Commodore ever again, where only 900 people got to bask in their excellent light (show). However, MUSE graduating to hockey arenas meant that North Americans finally got to see the full live show in all its KISS-like grandiosity. They did not disappoint with the spectacle of their dystopian vision. 

10. Massive Attack’s Heligoland cd and live show: Another zeitgeist defining work, this time with chill backing beats. Trip hop always seemed more about a vibe than the message, but the political slant of Massive Attack’s Heligoland cuts through. Both cd and live show with LCD light system conveyed a sense of everything coming together while everything is falling apart: a harmonic front whispered through the cacophonic backdrop of oil leaks, inequality, corruption and suffering. While despairing at times, glimmers of hope shone through the cracks the band exposed.