It sure was a busy year.
Got a new job, sort of.
Enjoyed a lot of culture.
Picked up and dropped off a lot of my children at airports.
And had a tremendous holiday in Puglia, Campagna and Basilicata with the highlight of that being Matera.
Did PrimaveraSound again in Barcelona.
And had shitty weather at Gleneagles in Scotland.
Kick my son’s ass at golf all but one time I played him, which was satisfying.
But I ruined my white jeans that came out of a wash all piss-coloured and never recovered. RIP.
So what were my cultural highs and lows?
Primaverasound was the 50% girl version and looked a little unpromising if I’m honest but turned out to be great. Highlights were Little Simz, Lizzo, Kate Tempest and Sons of Kemet with a star turn from Amyl and the Sniffers that got the boys going and multiple nip-slips during the Dream Wife gig.
At the Festival my gig of the year was probably Anna Calvi thanks to Grant Anderson’s tremendous (ungiglike) lighting. Breathtaking. But This is the Kit and Villagers were also immense and Efterklang were delicious.
The Steely Dan gig was the first I have enjoyed at The Hydro. It was excellent and worth waiting half a lifetime for.
Another amazing year with many highlights. Among them Crocodile Fever and a second viewing of Ulster American at The Traverse.
At the Official Festival I loved Kala Kuta Republic (where I met Billy Gillespie and his wife – they were lovely and Tom now has the opening line from Loaded tattooed on his clavicle as a sort of consequence). The Rite of Spring by Yang Liping’s Peacock Dance Company, and Peter Gynt.
On the Fringe Ontroered Goed, -Are we not drawn onward to new erA- was astonishing. A play spoken backwards. Literally. They are a tremendous company. The Patient Gloria was astonishing (again at The Traverse) and Baby Reindeer. OMG, Richard Gadd’s performance was ridiculous. And a great show called the Incident Room. FCT’s Once on this Island was damed fine too.
The Lyceum had a mixed year but An Edinburgh Christmas Carol, Solaris, Twelfth Night and Local Hero were all excellent. Unlike most I didn’t care for Touching The Void much.
NT Live continued its fine form and the Hot priest from Fleabag was awesome in Present Laughter, I loved the Lehman Trilogy and All About Eve.
A lot of five star movies this year, topped by Netflix’s Marriage Story, The Two Popes and The Irishman. But also great were; Zombieland: Double Tap, the documentary For Sama, broke my heart, Guilty ( one man film almost ), Eighth grade with music from Anna Meredith is tremendous and overlooked, Blakkklansman was a great return to form for Spike Lee, Free Solo was another great doc (about climbing El Capitan with no ropes – jeez) , Once Upon a time in Hollywood was great but not Tarantino’s finest and The Favourite oozed class.
But king of them all was Joker with the performance of a great year from Joaquim Phoenix. Oscar certainty.
A great year for TV topped by Succession which just slayed me, although Chernobyl ran it close. There was a great documentary called Inside Europe: 10 Years of Turmoil that succe=eded in making Angela Merkel a superhero in my eyes. Fleabag 2 was outstanding. The Virtues took Stephen Graham’s career to a new high. I loved Ricky Gervaises grief comedy After Life and The End of the Fucking World staged a great second series. I loved Seven Worlds: One Planet too.
Here’s a link to my favourite songs of 2019
…and another to my best of the teenies.
My album of the year was Julia Jacklin’s Crushing, but others I loved were Little Simz Grey Area, and one I’ve just discovered is Titanic Ring by Weyes Blood, Norman Fucking Rockwell by Lana Del Ray is the Critics’ choice as Is Ghosteen by Nick Cave. I loved the former and am only passable about the latter. I fear it is a little overrated. If you want grief, do Black Star by Bowie.
I very much liked Andrew Wasylyk’s the Paralian and I found myself delving a lot into Fela Kuti’s back catalogue this year.
I read some good stuff this year.
I loved the Michelle Obama autobiography and Margaret Atwood, The Testaments was great but not as good as the predecessor (The Handmaid’s Tale).
Another great female autobiography was To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine of Slits fame. A beautiful death bed tale about her difficult relationship with her mother.
Child of God by Cormac McCarthy was awesome and short.
Middle England was good but a bit flawed.
The Establishment (and how to get away with it) by everyone’s favourite Marxist Owen Jones was my favourite political read of the year. Completely biased and completely believable.
The Death of Grass by John Christopher is like a 1950’s The Road with strong left wing leanings also present. A great discovery and well worth reading.
I didn’t much like Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance.
So that’s it. A great year with much too savour. Probably a lot I have missed.