Top 10 Live Performances of 2010
1. Landmine Marathon (Toledo, 11/20)
Frontwoman Grace Perry may have eclipsed Neil Fallon and Rob Zombie as my favorite live performer, although I may be biased as I was on the receiving end of most of her good-natured violence.
Highlights: "Exist," "Bile Towers," "Chained by the Same Fate"
2. Alcest (Chicago, 4/24)
I still can't believe I saw this band. Neige is one of my biggest musical heroes and he made the first half of 2010 livable through his latest Alcest album and this stunning set.
Highlights: "Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde," "Écailles de Lune - Part 1," "Elevation"
3. Clutch (Cincinnati, 12/30)
In preparation for their annual New Year's extravaganza, my favorite live act of all time gave what may have been their best performance I've seen in six gigs, pulling out all the stops and fan favorites for a full house in one of my favorite venues.
Highlights: "(Notes from the Trial of) La Curandera," "Spacegrass," "The Dragonfly"
4. Iron Maiden (Cleveland, 7/15)
It was insanely ballsy for Maiden to march out a mostly Reunion Era setlist after 2006's AMOLAD debacle, but give them credit: all of those songs were exciting and fresh to this fan(boy) who had only previously seen them twice on the Somewhere Back in Time tour.
Highlights: "These Colours Don't Run," "Wrathchild," "Blood Brothers"
5. Clutch (Toledo, 6/6)
On a mini-tour attached to their Bonnaroo performance, Clutch marched out their first ever acoustic encore, which was a fascinating and, yes, ballsy move on their part. It wasn't always brilliant, but when brilliant moments shined through, it was more evidence to me that Clutch is probably the most creatively vital band on the planet. The non-acoustic portions of the set, of course, rocked.
Highlights: "The Soapmakers," "Electric Worry," "The Regulator"
6. Coheed and Cambria (Columbus, 8/27)
Relatively small outdoor summer concerts are some of the most fun things on Earth, and Coheed delivered one of the most fun nights of my life in August. The band was just totally on, and their crazy fans were probably the best audience I was a part of this year. I also crowd surfed for the first time in my life, so there's that.
Highlights: "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3," "Three Evils (Embodied in Love and Shadow)," "No World for Tomorrow"
7. Slayer (Fort Wayne, 10/14)
I finally got the chance to check one of my few remaining legendary acts off the need-to-see list this year, and they absolutely did not disappoint. They ripped through the Seasons in the Abyss record and a few other "hits" and made even the least enjoyable of those songs rip in a live setting.
Highlights: "War Ensemble," "Skeletons of Society," "Angel of Death"
8. Kylesa (Cincinnati, 12/30)
I wasn't a Kylesa fan until last night. I thought their music on record was just okay, and that the two-drummers-and-chick-singer thing was fairly gimmicky. Boy, was I wrong. Amazing set.
Highlights: Not dead sure on the titles of most of their stuff yet, but "Scapegoat" ruled - much, much better than it is on record, at least in my opinion.
9. Tegan and Sara (St. Louis, 4/2)
Fuck you, T&S is one of the best indie/pop-rock acts of all time. It isn't hipster; Pitchfork types can't stand them. Anyhow, they played for an incredibly long time at a very cool venue and I just had a generally great time at the show. Second time seeing them and I can guarantee a third.
Highlights: "Where Does the Good Go?," "Hell," "Call It Off"
10. Blind Guardian (Chicago, 11/29)
This is almost an honorary spot, because Blind Guardian have their problems as a live act. Hansi doesn't work the stage very well, and he doesn't even attempt some of the higher notes, and the mix was fairly off at times, but hey, I've been waiting to see BG since 2003, and they did a few of my favorite songs ever. When you're in the moment you're not analyzing the performance, and I had a ton of fun even if there's things I would have improved.
Highlights: "Nightfall," "A Voice in the Dark," "And Then There Was Silence"
Mortals are mortar and life is the fuse.