Last one now I think. Simon Ayre you may have seen around South Wales gigs looking all tall and attractive, taking some of the classier and better framed photos of live music. Despite seemingly suffering from some sort of existential crisis (and liking the Bluetones), I think this is my favourite of the end of year responses. Thanks for reading.


Well I’m 33 and now I work in a supermarket, it’s not going to be anything exciting or cutting edge. You know when you’re growing up and you wonder when your parents stopped listening to new music? 2010.  That was when the world started passing me by.

This year, my recorded music highlights included songs like:


The Bluetones – A New Athens (like Mark Morriss featuring Crazy Horse)

Spencer McGarry Season – The Giveaway (this has been in my head since July 20th 2009)

Goldheart Assembly – King of Rome

Gruff Rhys – Shark Ridden Waters

I’d like to like something a bit heavier next year please.

I’ve gone from buying a few albums a week to buying probably 15 in a year, so excuse my lack of anything interesting, but the albums I’ve listened to this year have been:

Interpol- Interpol

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals III/IV

Townes Van Zandt – Texas Troubadour – Four discs of misery. Amazing. It might be ancient but I bought it this year.

Ceri Frost – Cui

The Bluetones – A New Athens

Grinderman – Grinderman 2

I’ve cut down the amount of gigs I’ve gone to this year, mainly due to being up at 6 in the morning to work for 4 dull hours I’ll never get back, three days a week.

So with that in mind, my live music highlights of 2010 include

Vaselines @ Clwb

Shockingly never heard them before and been violently insulted for it. Dirty, dirty woman on guitar. She was playing the exact same model guitar I was bidding for on ebay the day before I bought my camera. I lost out at £550 and went out and bought my camera as a result the next day. Had I bought that guitar, who knows where I’d be? Probably downstairs, watching telly.

Oh, they were really good by the way. Great songs, well played, 9 out of 10.

Haight Ashbury supporting the Vaselines @Clwb.

I thought they were bloody lovely. I think it was their accents that did it for me. Reminded me of Scottish Katie from when I was at uni. I loved that girl. I think I quite liked the music, but  y’know, Scottish Katie.  She gave me her phone number once. I never saw her again. It turned out that I hadn’t saved it on my phone.

I did go to other gigs this year… erm….

Oooh yes. Brandyman upstairs at Buffalo.

I’d been out for a barbecue in torrential rain. My friends decided they wanted to go home, and as they were giving me a lift I had to go too. So I sulked, then decided that my night couldn’t end at 8:45 so went to see Brandyman. Paid £5. Best £5 I ever spent. Left straight after they finished. The other band would never be that good, so what was the point in staying? Went to the gig with a bag of cheap jelly babies from the Spar. I only bought them because I needed bus fare. I still didn’t have any.

Last Partisan at Le Pub.

One of the strangest nights I’ve ever had, ending with some toothless old man  ‘playing’  guitar with some other toothless old men. People kept saying he’s from PIL, though I’m not sure if that’s Pill in Newport, or Public Image Limited. The two times I saw Last Partisan at Le Pub they were awesome. Shame nobody goes to see them.

a-ha @ the CIA

Yeah what of it?

I tortured myself for months over whether to get tickets or not – first band I ever had anything by (take on me – 7inch) when I was about 7, last tour they’re going to do. It had everything, Morten fluffing his lines, great show, really expensive merchandise, terrible sound. Bloody brilliant.

Vanguard @ Buffalo

So very young. So very good. Swines.

Health @ Clwb

Got asked to photograph this a couple of hours before, having not heard them before. Why did I not listen to people? Amazing band. Took my favourite photos of the year. I took them, not the band.

Mark Morriss @ The Norwegian Church

What? Seated? Oh.

Mark Morriss is one of my favourite people ever to walk onstage. He is a very funny man and this gig was bloomin’ marvellous, featuring covers of Neil Young and Girls Aloud songs, stories about prostitutes getting in his car in Cardiff Bay, and a good beard. Supported by Houdini Dax, who were brilliant.

The Divine Comedy @ the Gate

I’ll be honest, I’ve never really been a fan. I thought they were ok, but found a lot of stuff a bit irritating, but I could forgive all that for when Neil Hannon came onstage at Reading Festival and said “Hello Berks!”  It was probably about 1999, I heard it from my tent. So based on those two words (“Hello Berks!” remember?) I actually BOUGHT a ticket for this. A brilliant night. Fantastic songs (including an inspired cover of “Don’t You Want Me”) and great banter. One of those nights when everyone leaves knowing they’ve witnessed something a bit special. Massive grins all round.

Paul McCartney @ Millennium Stadium.


Women + Drains @ the Globe

2 very different but very good bands. Only time I’ve ever been to the Globe. Drains were really good. REALLY REALLY good.

Tom Jones @ Latitude Festival

I watched him from behind some trees, could only see him on the screen occasionally. Realised half way through the set I wasn’t looking at him on a big screen, I was just looking at him. In real life. In person. Amazing what standing around in unfamiliar surroundings at midnight can do to your senses and depth perception. Saw him again a couple of days later on the main stage. Still amazing.

Brainlove tour @ Buffalo I can never remember the name of the band, but I bloody loved them. And Pagan Wanderer Lu. And that bloke with the beard and guitar synth is alright too. I had to leave halfway through his set though. I had a job to do. Yes, a job, at midnight.

Gruff and H.Hawkline at the BBC for Bethan Elfyn’s last show.

What a bloody lovely night. one of my favourite gigs of the year. Like, favourite of the favourite.

I found a dead cat today.

There are also bands like Right Hand Left Hand and Gindrinker which never fail to leave me amazed- Gindrinker at Buffalo with Joy of Sex (some great gigs from them this year too) for the single launch thing, and Right Hand Left Hand supporting Dead Meadow. Samoans, Racehorses and Los Campesinos at the Big Weekend in Cardiff- the LC! set was just so funny. One of my favourite sets I’ve seen them do, probably lifted by playing to a crowd full of kids waiting to see that band that was headlining. I can’t remember who it was. Gareth’s banter was particularly good that night, and good on him for jumping in the pit. That looked like a right laugh. I would have joined in but I had a note from my mum. And I was twice the size of everyone.  And I’m quite boring.

Other things I enjoyed this year were mainly photography related. Studying the photos of August Sander and Walker Evans. Getting away from taking live photos of bands to taking portraits, landscapes, giving myself projects. Helping to photograph student films. Studying. Studying. Studying. Why didn’t I do it when I was a student?

2010 was… alright, actually.

Tips and predictions for 2011

I don’t know enough about anything anymore, but I’d like to see something from Trost please.

If you haven’t heard of her, go to YouTube and type Trost Ducky.

I saw her once at Roskilde. I couldn’t decide if I was scared or just in love.

I hope I drink less tea in 2011. It started off as a legitimate way of getting more biscuits, then came more tea. I don’t even like the stuff.

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