It's the last day of (another) year, and as everyone else does, I suppose I'd better create a "best of" the year that was (only limited by my opinion, and my experience!) It's a tough one, as it's been a year packed full of diverse and different and new and wonderfully-faithful things. And I'm sure I've missed some... you can always look back through Toon's Tunes for more. Lots of links to click below!
BEST WEEKEND, BEST LIVE VIDEO, MOST TRAVELLED FANS and BEST FAN EXPERIENCE all have to go to Marillion for the bi-annual conventions or "Marillion Weekends". Wonderful, wonderful concerts. The Wolverhampton, UK weekend was the third of the three held this year. In 2015, I hope to attend all three. So many fans from so many countries, coming together to see and hear their favourite band of all time. The live video--or rather, videos: first, Clocks Already Ticking, the world-record-breaking recording and publishing of a live concert, from the first night of the Wolverhampton weekend. And second, the live video of Brave in its entirety. Both beautifully played, recorded, mastered and produced.
I've seen many other music videos this year, but none live up to the quality of these two. Also, the Marillion fan experience through the website, Facebook page and other interaction has created, over time, a huge-yet-personal global family. People who have come together through a love of the music, and who have grown together into a close-knit group who will support each other in times of need and in times of innovation. (Example: Steve Rothery's project is just one.) Other bands, take note and learn from some true masters.
BEST ALBUM and BEST ALBUM ARTWORK: Lux, by Gemini Syndrome. I had the pleasure of seeing Gemini Syndrome twice this year: once in Nevada, once at Aftershock in Sacramento. Lux is at the top of my new-in-2013 album list because every single song is a gem. See the full review of both Lux and Gemini Syndrome at Aftershock and if you haven't heard it yet, what are you waiting for???
Other very, very noteworthy albums from 2013: Orthodox by Beware of Darkness, and the stunning two-release set from Five Finger Death Punch, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, volumes one and two.
Which leads me to my SURPRISE BAND OF THE YEAR: a band that I really hadn't listened to much before Aftershock's lineup was announced, but who I have been playing non-stop ever since: Five Finger Death Punch (5FDP, FFDP) of course. Added to the list of bands-who-I-will-travel-a-long-way-to-see.
BEST FESTIVAL OR CONCERT SERIES: Monster Energy Aftershock 2013. Just amazing. What a lineup. Stunning. Can't wait for Aftershock 2014. If you need a summary, go watch Aftershock TV on the Aftershock 2013 website.
MOST ENTERTAINING AUDIENCE: Without a doubt, the People of Aftershock. Awesome job guys, truly awesome!
BEST TRIP: Jamaica! Not only was it a wonderful vacation, but the month before and after was filled with reggae shows, making it so much more than a trip to the beach. Leading the reggae shows this year, the Wailers on February 9th. And I'm looking forwards to seeing them again very soon; playing all of Legend, here in Sacramento, March 20th.
BEST OLDIE-BUT-GOODY: Blue Oyster Cult who performed at the Sunrise at Night concert series in Citrus Heights. I really, really enjoyed their show.
BEST COUNTRY SHOW: OK I didn't see many, but my favourite has to be Trace Adkins. His down-in-the-cowboy-boots voice just does something special. Maybe I'll explore Country further in 2014: Trace and LeAnn Rimes really opened my ears in 2013.
BEST MUSIC BOOKS: While I have read (or tried-very-hard to read--more on that later) many musicians biographies/autobiographies this year, and looked at a lot of concert photographers' publications, two books really stand out as the best I've seen in 2013. 9:30 to Fillmore, photographic memories which was published in 2013 and which is a beautiful documentary of a US tour, and Roger Steffen's Reggae Scrapbook, which was not published in 2013 but which I only saw and read after his storytelling at the Wailers' concert. So while it doesn't really count in this list, but I have to mention it again, as it's a true work of art in both documentation and unique presentation.
Remember: all of Toon's Tunes' concert photography can be viewed at http://alisontoon.com/music There are many more photos than can be included in individual reviews. Any band looking for a promotional photoshoot, go to http://www.alisontoon.com/contact.html
2014? What will you bring? I'm looking forwards to finding out. Happy New Year, everyone!