A one-line review of every gig I’ve been to in June 2022

Nobody has asked for this. It is more for my benefit than yours, I guess. It’s a monthly series now. Links go to the artist website. Maybe your interest will be piqued by one of the reviews. Maybe you’ll scroll straight past. Maybe you’ll unsubscribe thinking whatever did I ever see in this blog?

Queen & Adam Lambert, The O2 Arena, 8 June – I was never a huge Queen fan at the time, but know all of Greatest Hits I & II through osmosis, and I was curious about this. Essentially, you are going to be in a room full of people singing along joyfully to some of their favourite music, and you are going to know the tunes, so that must be fun, right? And it was.

As a non-fan I was surprised that I knew all of the album tracks they played too, in fact literally the only thing I didn’t recognise was a recent solo Brian May thing he played at one point. They used Freddie on video sparingly but movingly, I got surprised again after only realising a couple of years ago that Bohemian Rhapsody is a suicide note not the story of a man who done a murder and ran way as I always thought as a kid, Adam Lambert has clearly got the vocal range and the chops for it, but it was very much the May & Taylor show.

I figure over the years I had under-estimated how much their backing vocals had contributed to the overall sound of the band. The main thing though was it hadn’t even occurred to me that they would play Somebody To Love and Under Pressure and I would suddenly find myself feeling emotionally bereft again about the loss of both George Michael and David Bowie.

Queen + Adam Lambert at the O2

Section 25, Signature Brew, Walthamstow, 10 June – Promoted by These Days, Section 25 are now honed down to a duo of founding member Vincent Cassidy on vocals/drums and Steven Stringer on vocals/pressing play on gadgets/guitar, they’ve got such a great set of songs from those early years and were always criminally underrated in my book.

Section 25 at Signature Brewery, Walthamstow

Manic Street Preachers, Peterborough Embankment, Peterborough, 12 June – Cancelled due to James Dean Bradfield having Covid. Are they going to become my new OMD, the cursed favourite band whose gigs I somehow never quite get to?

Pet Shop Boys, Electric Ballroom, Camden, 24 June – I once saw Pet Shop Boys at the Astoria but I never imagined I’d see them somewhere smaller than that, but I was incredibly lucky to get offered a ticket to this fundraiser for grassroots music venues that also acted as their Glastonbury warm-up show. So we got a slightly truncated version of the Dreamworld greatest hits tour that I saw the previous month. They played twenty songs and I think maybe only two or three of them weren’t huge top ten hits in the UK. What an incredible band, and I had an absolute blast of an evening.

Pet Shop Boys at the Electric Ballroom, Camden

Dandy Warhols, Roundhouse, Camden, 25 June – One of several bands I was incredibly into during the late 90s/early 2000s and then haven’t listened to anything they’ve done for the last 15 years. The stuff I didn’t know sounded pleasingly Dandy Warhol-esque in a sludgier kind of way, but this maybe suffered a little for being the night after Pet Shop Boys. I did get gear envy with Zia McCabe’s keyboard set-up though.

Zia McCabe of Dandy Warhols at Camden Roundhouse

Go_A, The Garage, Highbury & Islington, 27 June – “Martin, did you go and see Ukraine’s 2021 Eurovision band basically on the strength of the fact you have developed a massive crush on the singer?”

“Yes. Yes, I did.”

Kateryna Pavlenko of Go_A at the Garage, Highbury & Islington

Genuinely thought this might be ten Eurovision spods, me and the band, but it was sold out and absolutely heaving with a rapturous welcome for Go_A and an incredible atmosphere. Very glad I decided to go in the end, their formula of “it’s techno that sounds a bit like Nine Inch Nails, then she shouts at you in Ukranian for a bit, then he plays a little folk melody on the recorder, rinse repeat” is very satisfying.

Go_A at the Garage, Highbury & Islington

Fairplay to the fella in the audience cosplaying as Kateryna’s “dead Orville” costume from last year’s Eurovision, too.