No one can possibly see every concert of the year so this is really the 10 best concerts that I saw in 2010. And I saw a lot of shows and some astounding performances. Here’s the list.
John Diliberto’s Ten Best Concerts of 2010
1 Jonsi at Electric Factory, Philadelphia
Jonsi gave a performance that was transcendent, visually and musically. The Sigur Ros singer/guitarist created a theatrical work that was meticulously choreographed, yet ragingly intense.
2 Nels Cline Singers at Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia
Nels Cline, erstwhile guitarist for Wilco, turned in a tour de force performance with his trio, The Nels Cline Singers. The music ranged through moments of tranquility, hard-edged groove and raga-like melodicism, all of which emerged from a sea of distortion. (see complete review).
3 Jeff Beck at The Borgata, Atlantic City
The 60s guitar icon gave a retrospective walk through his career and played most of his 2010 album, Emotion & Commotion. He laid all guitar gods to waste with a riveting 90 minute performance that revealed why he’s the Wizard of the Whammy Bar. (See complete review).
4 Arcade Fire at Mann Music Center, Philadelphia
With their expanded ensemble, Arcade Fire launched a big arena-style assault full of energy and passion, grooves that would not stop and melodies that stayed in your head long after they echoed off the Mann Music Center hillside.
5 Massive Attack at Moogfest, Asheville, NC
Even though they played an arena, Massive Attack maintained fidelity to their sub-down tempo moods. But make no mistake, this music thundered with a pair of drummers , booming bass and Angelo Bruschini‘s burning solos that cut serrated edges on Massive Attack’s electronic orchestrations. Martina Topley-Bird lit up the stage every time she sang. (See complete review)
6 The Pineapple Thief at Nearfest, Bethlehem, PA
The Pineapple Thief stole the day for me with the most atypical set of NEARfest 2010. No extended guitar solos, keyboard orchestrations or complex rhythm designs for this quartet. Instead they concentrated on songs and arrangements, building tension and release through repetition and nuanced, albeit highly distorted sound. (See complete review).
7 The Octopus Project at Moogfest, Asheville, NC
The Octopus Project manage to be effervescent even when sending out industrial chaos with metal beats and buzzsaw synthesizers. One of the most exuberant performances at Moogfest (see complete review).
8 Ludovico Einaudi at Angel Orensantz Center, New York City
Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi played a purely solo set lasting over two hours of liquidly flowing solo piano, weaving and reinterpreting his compositions on the fly in the surreal space of the Angel Orensantz Center. You can hear him do it again on Echoes Sonic Seasonings.
9 Michael Rother & Hallogallo 2010 at International House, Philadelphia
The German guitarist brought his trio in to reinvent the music of Neu, Harmonia and his own solo works. Elements of surf guitar, Eastern tonalities and acid sustain emerged in Rother’s playing. You haven’t heard this much fuzzed, phased and filter-swept guitar in years as Rother deployed lines that were minimalist in scope, but epic in resonance. (Read a complete review)
10 Hotchip at Moogfest, Asheville, NC
Hot Chip turned in one of the most powerful sets of MoogFest. Their sound updates 1980s Techno-pop with infectious songs and long instrumental vamps like “Over and Over.” It has a chorus that shouts “Laid back! We’ll give you laid back,” which they certainly didn’t. Their albums will not prepare you for how hard they rock in concert. (Read full review)
Getting Highly Honorable Mention:
Portico Quartet @ World Cafe Live, Philadelphia (Read full concert review)
The Album Leaf @ First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia
The Black Angels @ TLA, Philadelphia (read full review)
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))