These are the artists that blew everyone away this year. We are not worthy
Dates: October 17 – 21
What happened: Annie Clarke, stood alone, performing all of her singles before new album ‘MASSEDUCTION’ in chronological order – with nothing but her voice, guitar, a plinth, a curtain, a drum machine, and a surreal selection of dystopian imagery.
What made it brilliant: It split opinion more than any other tour of 2017, but do you want the truth? It was another stroke of genius from Clarke. She stripped away the excess but maximised the spectacle. She’s the icon that we need, even if we don’t know it yet.
Key date: Brixton Academy – before the show has even ended, fans were arguing about whether it was The Second Coming or a Baptism Of Shot. Twitter was a warzone the next day.
Dates: February 2 – 18, September 22 – October 12
What happened: Loyle’s debut album ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ was transformed into an emotional and often rowdy night out.
What made it brilliant: His footie shirt swap-shop he initiated during his UK tour this Autumn, where he traded guest list spots to sold-out shows with fans, in exchange for some sleek retro kits.
Key date: Brixton Academy on October 6 – his 23rd birthday, which he shared with 5,000 punters, who also sung him Happy Birthday alongside his Mum. N’aww.
Dates: One-off shows from April – December
What happened: After only playing her first headline show back in April, the rising rap star has steadily been slaying stages left, right and centre in the eight months since – a fearsome premonition of what’s to come from the ‘Don.
What made it brilliant: A ferocious flow, some killer dance moves and plenty of energy – what more could you want from a live show?
Key date: Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, London on July 9 – Steff told NME that those who packed in to see her homecoming gig “gave me so much energy. It was such a good crowd.”
Dates: September 26 – October 2
What happened: New Zealand’s premier pop star brought interpretive dancers, massive bangers and a huge transparent box to the stage
What made it brilliant: You know you’re doing something right if you can open a set with ‘Homemade Dynamite’ and close it with ‘Green Light’. Anthems galore.
Key date: Glastonbury 2017 – barely a week after the release of the best album of 2017, ‘Melodrama’, Lorde’s Worthy Farm debut acted as a euphoric coming out party for fan and artist alike.
Dates: March 20 – November 20
What happened: Hit-packed folk fest that turned into a euphoric, ballad-laden love-in.
What made it brilliant: Joshua Tillman’s louche dancing and all-round rockstar vibes.
Key date: His first ever headline turn at End of the Road festival at the beginning of September.
Dates: September 24 – 30
What happened: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds first tour since the tragic death of his teenage son was bound to be an emotional affair, but the ‘Skelton Tree’ material made for one of his most powerful tours yet.
What made it brilliant: Nick’s connection with the crowd was mind-blowing. Each night he invited up 50 or so people to dance, sit and generally look on in awe as he played the last few songs of the set.
Key date: The O2 in London was a triumph. Despite the large scale of the venue, many commented on it being the most intimate show from the band they’d ever seen, with Cave stalking across the venue, reaching out and pulling the crowds’ hands to his chest and emoting like never before.
Dates: Festivals and one-off shows
What happened: A carnival of song and dance as Win Butler led his band with that Bowie-esque chameleon-like swagger, from the antiquity of their earlier material through to the disco-tinged space rock of today.
What made it brilliant: While the album ‘Everything Now’ left many feeling a little flat, none can deny that on stage they reached an absolute career high. Every band member gave their all to dance you into oblivion, like the ultimate party at the end of the world. They simply couldn’t have done more.
Key date: York Hall – us, them and boxing ring in east London. Get in.
Dates: October 30 – December 16
What happened: The autumn-into-winter UK leg of LG’s tour brought fans out in their masses to witness the now-bonafide solo star dominate arenas up and down the country.
What made it brilliant: Liam’s swaggering stage presence – need we say more?
Key date: Glasgow on December 4 – fans at the SSE Hydro Arena matched the energy on stage by letting off flares during ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’. Magnificent.
Dates: June 9 – June 13, November 13
What happened: The greatest punk rock rap wedding band of all time went on the road, comprising Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave, Chuck D and DJ Lord of Public Enemy and B Real of Cypress Hill.
What made it brilliant: Instead of playing a bunch of new songs no-one had heard of, they played a greatest hits set comprised of material from all three acts – as well as a load of more 1990s classics.
Key date: The band’s Download set was extra special, not least because of the touching version of ‘Like A Stone’, played in tribute to Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell, who had passed away only a few weeks before the show. The band played an instrumental version of the track, while thousands of people in the crowd beautifully belted out Cornell’s part in tribute.
Dates: September 17 – 28
What happened: Sprawling Sprinsteen-esque sets that not only showcased the band at their most tender and heartbreaking, but also their most maniacal and menacing. It was a career-spanning emotional rollercoaster, all set to a multimedia extravaganza.
What made it brilliant: Having capped off their tour for previous album ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ at The O2, this time saw them arena-primed and ready to magnify their misery to a headline scale. Emily Eavis tipped them to top the bill at Glastonbury in the future, and we can’t disagree. After 20 years of grind, the ‘Sleep Well Beast’ tour was the victory lap of The National playing the long game and winning.
Key date: Glastonbury. It was a bold move to warm up for the Foos with a set that was nearly 50% new material, but it paid off. They planted in their flag in the ground at Worthy Farm, and the future is theirs.
Dates: September 16 – 29
What happened: James Murphy and co’s reunion shows in 2016 were a highlight of the year, but could they maintain the momentum and goodwill once they had new material out?
What made it brilliant: ‘American Dream’ breathed new life into LCD’s live show. Rather than return as a nostalgia act sullying their immaculate legacy, this tour took them into brave and bold new places. It was an ecstatic union of those who loved their past, and a new generation dancing into tomorrow.
Key date: Alexandra Palace – The site of 11,000 howling fans, arm-in-arm, bawling their eyes out and howling their throats raw to ‘All My Friends’ is a live experience that can’t be beat.
Dates: July 7 – December 11
What happened: The London group’s second album ‘Visions Of A Life’, and ensuing tour, was a mystical and stratospheric leap for a group ready to headline next summer’s festies.
What made it brilliant: New songs dominated proceedings, but hearing first album anthem ‘Bros’ in arenas across the nation was a truly special moment for all involved.
Key date: Glasgow’s Barrowlands on Nov 11. The day before, singer Ellie Rowsell tweeted: “Any gals wanna play my guitar part in moaning Lisa smile at the Barrowlands tomo so I can stomp around on stage?”. A fan called Freya heeded the call and totally shredded the part, inspiring the band to ask for female guitarists for some of their remaining dates.