Forget the weather: it’s been a hell of a summer.
Musically, 2015 must rank as one of the most exciting on record, with new releases flooding in some true greats, newcomers, unexpected sources and trusted talent.
In the live arena, too, this year has continued to excite. Opening with the Great Escape, the summer season has created all manner of headlines, ranging from the resurgence of grime to the final chapter in a legendary rock tale.
Clash rounds up 7 Of The Best shows from summer ’15.
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Skepta – The Great Escape
Make no bones about it: Skepta has absolutely bossed this summer. ‘Shutdown’ has stormed the charts on its own terms, while the Tottenham don has continually raised the roof with his live performances. Fresh from an incredible Stateside tour, Skepta breezed into Amsterdam at the weekend to prove that grime really can go international. It all started back in May, though, with a stellar slot at The Great Escape – heading up a bill peppered with grime talent, Skepta proved that he had the energy, charisma and determination to push it all the way.
Kanye West – Glastonbury
Glastonbury is a festival that thrives on inclusion, yet whenever the event invites an artist outside the rock sphere to headline they seem to come in for some rather undue criticism. Booking walking headline generator Kanye West to head up 2015’s bill may have seemed like a no-brainer for most, but it seemed to split fans and fellow artists down the middle. Pulling out all the stops, Kanye West delivered a historic headline performance, which included Beastie Boys’ Mike D, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, an incredible light show and a cherry picker. Intense.
Lionel Richie – Glastonbury
Remarkably, though, a true veteran somehow managed to upstage Yeezy at Glastonbury. Lionel Richie was handed the Sunday afternoon slot, and responded with a hit-laden set that matched smooth soul classics to his genial, easy-going charm. The biggest crowd of the weekend descended upon the Pyramid Stage, and in one fell swoop Lionel Richie was transformed from guilty pleasure to hipster icon. He’s always been a star in our eyes, though…
Squarepusher – Lovebox
Clash and Soundcrash worked together on an arena at this year’s Lovebox, piecing together a line up that moved from Dornik’s infectious R&B to Nils Frahm’s challenging electronics. However it was Squarepusher’s barnstorming set that truly made jaws drop – the Warp lynchpin matched blistering visuals to stunning, continually groundbreaking music in a performance that managed to fulfil the expectations of long term fans while still providing a spectacle for passers-by. Rarely has smashing musical boundaries seemed like so much fun.
Portishead – Latitude
Portishead have been relatively inactive of late, the Bristol group seemingly content to focus on their myriad side projects. Agreeing to headline Latitude, the band left nothing to chance – taking personal charge of an early morning soundcheck, every detail of their set was meticulously mapped out. They needn’t have worried, though – the explicit emotion of Beth Gibbons’ vocals married to the low end charge of a festival system made for one of the summer’s most special performances, a marriage of past and present which seemed to lend visceral life to that stellar catalogue.
The Who – Barclaycard British Summertime
The Who are simply one of the most iconic names in British rock music. Heading back out on the road for their 50th anniversary tour, the band promised fans that this would be their last undertaking on this scale. Playing Hyde Park – the scene of many a triumph for the band – The Who cranked up the volume one more time for a set that was heavy on the hits. Ending with an emotional thank you to their fans, the show was undoubtedly triumphant yet also had the air of something passing definitively into the past. We shall not see their like again.
The Libertines – Blues Kitchen, Camden
The Libertines and Camden go together like Jagerbombs and a hangover. With the band’s much-anticipated third album incoming, the lads of Albion decided to phone round a few friends and play Camden’s Blues Kitchen venue. Cue scenes that harked back to their feverish youth, without once slipping into nostalgia. Carl Barat crowd-surfed towards the bar, grabbed a bottle of rum and crowd-surfed back to the stage. Pete Dohery paid his respects to Amy Winehouse. The band played their own songs, other people’s songs, classic songs and made up songs – another page was added to the legend, in other words.
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