I made an effort to go to as many live shows as I could last year. It’s something that I’ve missed over the last few years. Here’s a short list of my favourite gigs of 2013.

Van Der Graaf Generator, Glasgow ABC

I’d never seen VDGG live before. They were magnificent. Powerful. Thrilling. There’s no hint of nostalgia in their performance. Peter Hammill is still an enthralling frontman. Highlight was an amazing version of A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers. I hope they come back very soon.

The Enid, Glasgow ABC

The last time I saw The Enid it was five minutes along the road but many years ago. This version of the band is great. “New” singer Joe Paine is wonderful singer and brings a certain camp theatricality that seems to suit the music very well. Robert John Godfrey was in funny and naughty form despite having to make a sad announcement about his health. Overall it was a joyous show. Highlights: One And The Many and a rousing version of Summer.

Zappa Plays Zappa, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

This show was badly publicised and the attendance reflected this. It should have been busier. Despite that I loved this show. Dweezil Zappa and band were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Roxy And Elsewhere album and played all of it in the first half of the show. It was great fun. The Bebop Tango section was hilarious and there was a lot of fooling around. The second half consisted of various Zappa classics from the late seventies. The band was fantastic especially Scheila Gonzales. It’s nice to see people leaving a show with big grins. Highlights: Watermelon In Easter Hay and a spontaneous version of Highway To Hell.

Special mention should also go to great shows by Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, and Rush. I’m hoping to go to to even more gigs this year. I’ve missed live music a lot.

I’m not very good at making hierarchical “top” lists of the year so here is a list of the albums I enjoyed most from 2013. The first three, on reflection, are my top three favourites but the rest are not in any order of preference.

1. The Tangent, Le Sacre Du Travail

2. Sanguine Hum, The Weight Of The World

3. Big Big Train, Full Power

4. Steve Hackett, Genesis Revisited II

5. Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

6. Steven Wilson, The Raven That Refused To Sing

7. Lifesigns, Lifesigns

8. Sand, Sand

9. Prefab Sprout, Crimson/Red

10. Cosograf, The Man Left In Space

11. Solstice, Prophecy

12. The Fierce And The Dead, Spooky Action

13.  Moon Safari, Himlabacken Vol. 1

14. Bram Stoker, Cold Reading (download only, official CD release this month so this will likely appear in 2014’s list too)

15. Thieves’ Kitchen, One for Sorrow, Two for Joy 

I’m sure I’ve overlooked a few so perhaps I’ll add an “honourable mentions” list a bit later.

Joni Mitchell is 70 today. Jon Anderson turned 70 earlier on in the week. It’s sobering to think that a lot of my musical heroes/heroines are getting to that stage in their lives now. Who is going to replace them?