I will continue to add Shame to any list of upcoming gigs when they’re playing as they, frankly, deserve it. It’s not just that they’re currently making some of the most exciting guitar music coming out of the UK, but also because live they’re truly intoxicating – lead singer Charlie Steen conducts the rest of the pogoing band through a performance which somehow merges chaos and control into a bewitching brew, something for the eyes and ears to greedily drink in and gulp down before – all too briefly - it’s gone. They know exactly what they’re doing, and I, for one, love them for it.
Listen to: Angie, Concrete
Nile Rodgers and CHIC
A true living legend, Nile Rodgers’ impact on contemporary music cannot be overstated. Whether writing some of the most iconic songs still filling dance floors today to producing artists at the very top of their game (hello Madonna and Bowie), Rodgers has done it all. What’s even more amazing is that, despite recently overcoming cancer and being 66-years-old, he’s still relentlessly and consistently playing spectacular live shows with the latest line-up of his seminal band Chic. As well as tracks from the group’s latest album (And first in 26 years) ‘It’s About Time’, get ready to dance to classics including ‘Get Lucky’, ‘Greatest Dancer’, ‘Good Times’ and ‘Le Freak’.
Listen to: Pretty much any of the biggest hits of the last 40-50 years
Harlem Gospel Choir in Haarlem
Straight from New York, Harlem Gospel Choir (not Haarlem’s Gospel Choir) will perform at Philharmonie Haarlem for a special show just before Christmas Day. The group are one of America's premier gospel choirs, previously playing with everyone from Bono to Pharrell Williams. Organised by the Haarlem theatre’s director Jaap Lampe on a recent trip to the Big Apple, expect to hear big voices and even bigger songs.
Expect to hear: Beautiful voices in a beautiful setting!
Two Mercury Prize nominations, critical acclaim and sold-out shows, British singer-songwriter Anna Calvi’s rise has been nothing short of phenomenal. Then again there really isn’t a talent like hers, one which merges gothic rock, sparse guitar lines and a voice which screams and soothes like an impassioned lover.
Listen to: Hunter, Strange Weather
Hot 8 Brass Band
Led by sousaphone player Bennie Pete, the Grammy-nominated New Orleans brass band never seem to stop touring. Of course, that’s no bad thing, as it means if you haven’t seen them live then you now can (and should). Why? Because Hot 8 Brass Band are truly brilliant, bringing a riotous energy to every performance, embellished by the whoops and whistles they use to punctuate each other’s solos and refrains and the genuine love they seem to have for their fans. Of course, you’re also likely to hear their reworkings of classics such as Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing, as well as hits by Stevie Wonder and Sade.
Listen to: Sexual Healing over and over again.
A Bowie Celebration: The David Bowie Alumni Tour
You could be forgiven for wincing when hearing about this tour, which celebrates the life of David Bowie by playing all his greatest hits barely two years after his death. But then, if you consider the musicians involved – Bowie’s longest-standing bandmember Mike Garson as well as Bowie band alumni Earl Slick, Gerry Leonard, Carmine Rojas and Mark Plati – then it does indeed seem like a touching way to ensure that Bowie’s legacy lives on in a live setting, and its ever-rotating roster of guest vocalists means that you get to experience some of your best-loved Bowie songs in completely new ways.
Expect to hear: The genius of Bowie, just without the man himself.
Nominally a duo - Jeffrey Paradise and Filip Nikolic to their mums – Poolside began as a recording project in a backyard pool house in Los Angeles, and now features members of The Rapture and Toro Y Moi. With a sound that evokes Balearic sunsets and pinches liberally from the 80s Italo-disco tracks which are just so in right now, they might not likely win any awards for originality, but what they can do is transport you to a place where the sun is hot, the drinks are cold and it’s impossible to resist the urge to move your body in time to the lush waves of dizzying disco which pulse out from the stage in front. On a cold January evening in Amsterdam, I’ll take it.
Listen to: Harvest Moon.
I popped White Denim on November’s gig guide because BC Camplight was supporting them, essentially, saying it was ‘because BC is brilliant, basically, crafting admittedly-sometimes-quite-weird songs from music’s best bits – think Wilson’s harmonies and classic rock ‘n’ roll swagger’. Well of course that still stands, and now you get to see him play more of his songs for longer. He’s recently toured the UK and people who know about these things say his show was spectacular.
Listen to: You Should’ve Gone to School, Grim Cinema
Melkweg // 10 February // Tickets
A rock star sporting a grand piano in place of a guitar, German pianist Nils Frahm is also a musical genius (term not used lightly) and a poster boy for the classical crossover. Live his shows see him flitting between towers of keyboards, pianos and other instruments to create soundscapes boasting both beats and beauty.
Listen to: Hammers, Ambre
AFAS Live // 15 February // Tickets
Just a few years after dropping out of the Brit school and ending up living on the streets, France-born Londoner Octavian is now on the cusp of mega-stardom. First Drake posted a video of himself rapping along to Octavian’s breakout hit ‘Party Here’ at a Golden Globes afterparty, then he was invited to walk the runway at Louis Vuitton artistic director Virgil Abloh’s first runway show in Paris. After the release of his ‘SPACEMAN’ mixtape, Octavian has cemented his place as one of the most exciting talents around, bridging the gap between UK rap and grime with the beats of his musical heroes James Blake and Bon Iver.
Listen to: Party Here, Hands
Named after the corner shops that feed New York, Bodega’s songs deliver sniping critiques of contemporary culture with a sardonic sneer that Sid Vicious would have been proud of. Debut album ‘Endless Scroll’ details mankind’s evolving addiction to screens in 14 tracks that merge punk and the dance floor-indebted revelries of contemporaries like LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture.
Listen to: How did this happen?!
Beautifully downbeat and as moving a record as you will likely hear this year, Bill Ryder-Jones’ ‘Yawn’ quickly made its way to the top of my list of favourite albums of 2018. As one of the founding members of Wirral psych-poppers The Coral, Ryder-Jones enjoyed musical success and No 1 albums before agoraphobia and stress-related illness led to him leaving the group. Since then he’s etched out a singular place on the musical landscape, one in which his crumbling vocals swoon over the scuzzy-grunge of his guitar and the occasional orchestral flourish. A magnetic, magnificent talent, this gig promises great things.
Listen to: All of 'Yawn' repeatedly
Paradiso // 26 February // Tickets
For more great events in Amsterdam check out I amsterdam's Weekend Guide.