2016 Gigs Of The Year

2016 has been a relatively quiet year for me on the gig front. Now that I’m comfortably past the mid-point of my twenties and beyond the wide-eyed enthusiasm and boundless energy of youth, I often struggle to find the motivation to make the standard 2-3 hour round-trip up to London and back – especially since I’ve been to literally hundreds of shows over the last seven years, and seen the vast majority of my favourite bands on numerous occasions already. The unrestrained excitement I felt in my late teens and early twenties now battles a lethargic sense of routine, and I sometimes even find myself wearily checking the time at gigs, eager for the night to reach an end so I can head home and get to bed. The experience is still enjoyable, but these days it takes something truly special to inspire me, recapture the magic and ultimately justify the excursion. Financial restrictions are also a significant factor; as ticket prices seem to climb while my disposable income becomes increasingly limited, going to every show that interests me is simply no longer affordable anyway, and the overall result is that I’m becoming much more selective about which to attend. Nevertheless, I’m fortunate enough to have been present for plenty of incredible concerts this year, some of which actually rank among the greatest I’ve ever witnessed – the following are my ten favourites of 2016.

Ranking The Seasons: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

In a world where magic and monsters lurk in the shadows of human society, there is also the Slayer – one lone girl bestowed with superpowers and destined to fight back against the forces of darkness. Upon the death of each Slayer, the powers and duties are passed on to a new girl; Californian teenager Buffy Summers is the latest to inherit this burden, reluctantly accepting her fate as she battles evil alongside paternal mentor Rupert Giles, and best friends Xander Harris and Willow Rosenberg. Known as the Scooby Gang, together they face demons – both literal and metaphorical – and protect the world from apocalyptic threats, while simultaneously enduring the pressures, adversities and tribulations of everyday life.

More Than Just Gigs In Fields

I’m lost in a dark field, surrounded by tens of thousands of eager rock fans with a towering stage looming out of the black ahead of us. Suddenly the sound of an air raid siren transforms the anxious buzz of the crowd into a jubilant roar and four figures appear, each clad in bright orange prison jumpsuits with black bags obscuring their heads. The whole place erupts into an exhilarating frenzy of jumping, dancing and moshing as Rage Against The Machine launch into their storming performance at Reading Festival 2008, and I’m left awestruck by my first encounter with a festival headliner. In fact, the entirety of my debut festival weekend was unforgettable, establishing a lasting devotion and inspiring a significant element of my lifestyle and identity ever since.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

WARNING: the following review contains spoilers.

I bought my PS3 on the very day Guns Of The Patriots was released in 2008, and seven years later I did exactly the same thing with my PS4 and The Phantom Pain. Seven years of patiently waiting, replaying through the previous games again and again, until the last piece of the puzzle – the missing link that would bridge the gap between the Big Boss and Solid Snake eras to bring the epic saga full circle – was finally released. Unfortunately, this is not the game we received. Instead, The Phantom Pain is a devastatingly disappointing mess of irrelevant and unfinished plot, weak storytelling and dull characters, mixed with lifeless maps, repetitive missions and a distinct lack of just about everything that typically makes Metal Gear Solid games so great.