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STILL HANGING AROUND WIND BACK WEDNESDAY: WHAT LIVE MUSIC HAD TO SAY FOR ITSELF IN 2013


(Pink, in motion.)


Tomorrow you can read a review of one of the best shows of this year (hint: they’re from Philadelphia and they were watched by a Virgin Voyager) and next week there’ll be the pick of this year’s albums and songs to pore over. Yes, it’s year-end wrap time.


To warm you up for the feast of 2023, Wind Back Wednesday goes back a decade and asks did all that happen in 2013? And Cliff Richard, the original virgin wanderer, too? The answer is yes, and, sorry, yes.


Were you there at any of these? Do you still regret a few? And if you’re tempted to mock (mock? moi?) can you match some of the names mentioned below who were already in the veterans category then but were still touring here in 2023?  


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BEIBER CAME, SAW and (maybe) retired. Bruce Springsteen came, saw and (surprisingly) booked a return. Bon Jovi came, saw and (of course) echoed Bruce.


You could add to that list the deeply resonating but high reaching James Blake, who took electronic soul to the Opera House, and the solid pop rock of Birds Of Tokyo, whose year of touring just about everywhere in the country should have seen them win the ARIA for best live act.


Blokes all, blokes aplenty and many a ticket sold too for what is definitely no B list.


But no matter whether you were a teen beleiber or a middle-aged, denim-clad lover of things New Jersey, you could not deny that for the second time in less than a decade this was a year once again painted a definite shade of Pink.


For the woman hardly anyone remembers wasn’t christened Pink but rather Alecia Moore, there were something like 943 shows (everyone but her accountants stopped counting after 50) and all of them elicited oohs, aahs and even good reviews, culminating in a just-in-time-for-Christmas tour DVD which mopped up the few dollars not already spent on her tickets.


(Rihanna - no wires, no care?)


You couldn’t begrudge her though because as live shows go, Pink’s arena spectacular outshone the stadium-ready Taylor Swift and Beyonce, who downscaled a bit possibly because she was too busy making the 17 videos for her new album; outdid Ricky Martin and One Direction, who won on the screams but not on the swings; and out-professionaled – let’s declare it a word for today at least - Rihanna who, like Beiber, couldn’t get on stage on time and couldn’t be bothered that much when she did get there.


You might call that wholehearted, whole-bodied Pink approach old school values and if you did she would have been in good company this year. Old school, or just plain old, was the other defining trend of the 2013 touring circuit. Actually, make that really, really old.


(Chet Faker. Why so worried?)


Of course, The xx, Chvrches and Alt-J showed that James Blake and Ed Sheeran weren’t the only British 20something who could pull a crowd, set a trend or both; Flume and Chet Faker redrew the rules for how Australians now judge a live show (hint: we are comfortable with someone manning the decks rather than the guitar effects); and while Lorde might still be learning how to work a room she showed that along with local hip hop crew Horrorshow, we aren’t going to run out of young talent any time soon.


However, 2013 saw a dozen or more tours which could have been, and probably were, sponsored by retirement villages and superannuation funds. To run through all of them would probably age us all – and give an unnecessary excuse for another jibe at Cliff Richard who showed that a rock’n’roll gig can be God's waiting room.


(Mr L. Cohen, calling)


But a representative sample would begin with the venerable Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon and Wanda Jackson who didn’t lack for energy or pizzazz. It would then touch on the only slightly younger Springsteen, Neil Young and Joan Baez, who did things traditionally, and Kraftwerk, who did things electronically. And it might then amble down to relative youngsters in the 50somethings Nick Cave, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop and Joan Armatrading who all satisfied mightily.


Even at both the sublime (Bonnie Raitt) and ridiculous (Kiss) ends of the spectrum, the veterans were worth noting while the “kids” reformed (Stone Roses and Breeders) or resisted retirement (You Am I and Einsturzende Neubauten).


Not much is going to change in 2014. Not when the Big Day Out – outstripped this year by Soundwave as the peak festival experience – now has almost as many veterans on the bill as the blue rinse Blues Fest. But if Nile Rogers closing out the year at the Opera House looked a bit weird, keep in mind that soon we will see John Farnham and Lionel Ritchie doubling up.


Rock. And. Roll.



Speaking of which .....



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