Best Live gigs of 2018 — Chaz Brooks rounds up his top ten gigs of the year

10. Jim White, St Mary’s Church, Guildford

This was the Jim White experience. Two hours of quality music and side-splitting stories. White was accompanied by Irish guitarist Clive Barnes, a brilliant lap guitar player and a storyteller to match White. Compelling, captivating, hilarious, thought provoking, inspiring, honest, full of love and hope, Jim White is to be experienced.


9. The Wood Brothers, Bush Hall, London

This was a performance of awesome power with a country-tinged rock groove like Steely Dan on steroids. From rockabilly to Louisiana swamp, this was a stunning performance of energy, fun, professionalism and power.

8. The Devil Makes Three, Islington Assembly Hall, London

Hi octane, mainly fast tempo bluegrass, country, folk and rockabilly energetically and brilliantly performed. Imagine the Punch Brothers on steroids.

7. The Wandering Hearts, Islington Assembly Hall, London

BOON has followed the rapid rise of the Wandering Hearts from their first performance on the C2C side stage and showcase gig at St Pancras Old Church so it was great to see the quartet’s triumphant return to London.

6. Charley Crockett, The Borderline, London

An amazing high energy show with boogie woogie, the honk and the tonk interspersed by classic one-line jokes such as “I used to drink. I still do.” Good time music superbly performed.

5. William The Conqueror, The Water Rats, London

This trio are getting better and better and are amazing live. Good news for fans is that the upcoming album Bleeding on the Soundtrack, available in February 2019, is every bit as good if not better than the Proud Disturber album.

4. American Aquarium, The Borderline, London

Alt-country rockers American Aquarium, one of the hardest-working bands in America who regularly play 250 gigs a year, blew London’s Borderline apart with an astonishing display of power, passion and panache.

3. Courtney Marie Andrews, Komedia, Brighton

Rising Americana star Courtney Marie Andrews gave a sensational performance, one of five UK shows seen by BOON in 2018. The self-belief that recent critical recognition has given Andrews is apparent. Having crystal clear delivery her stage presence is mesmerising.

2. Anderson East, Omeara, London

East came to the Omeara’s tight stage to a deafening reception. His reputation preceded him as a top live performer and he was not about to disappoint. The show was a non-stop fiery performance of staggering intensity and emotion worthy of Otis Redding and James Brown of the past and Eli “Paperboy” Reid and James Morrison of the present. This guy has Stax appeal.

1. The Punch Brothers, Barbican, London

Three standing ovations. Two hours of magic. One microphone. The Punch Brothers are masters of highly distinctive avant-garde bluegrass. Whether delicate mandolin playing, complex key and rhythm changes, foot-stomping bluegrass or storytelling, this group is the Steely Dan of the bluegrass world, with technical perfection and sophistication.

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