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2022 and the comeback of concerts

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After a tumultuous two years of concert cancellations, rescheduling and questioning their future, concerts finally witnessed a full return in 2022.

Their unplanned hiatus didn’t affect some people, but many felt lost without the atmosphere.

I for one missed the incredibly sweaty venues, the intense emotions radiating off fans and witnessing your favourite artist standing mere centimetres away from you.

Every artist that ever existed seemed to be on tour this year, all just craving that personal connection with their fans.

It was hard deciding which concerts to attend this year, there were simply too many, and living four hours from Glasgow did not support my addiction.

Next year I already have the 1975, Spacey Jane, Inhaler and Hockey Dad lined up, but I hope the list only grows longer.

Nevertheless, let’s take a look back on 2022 and the many gigs I attended to potentially entice you for next year’s concert season.

Conan Gray – June 2

Held in Glasgow’s O2 Academy this was my first concert in two years.

However, Conan Gray would not be my usual first choice for a concert, but I was yearning for some live music.

Additionally, this was my first concert going alone, and whilst I am not opposed to it, there was definitely something missing when I couldn’t share it with others.

I found the atmosphere was nothing like I am used to. The crowd didn’t seem adamant to embrace each other’s company nor revel in this monumental occasion together, leaving the environment quite hostile.

Nevertheless, Conan Gray arrived on stage at 9pm and provided a glorious set.

His vocals were bliss to any listeners ears and his stage presence made everyone feel welcome and like we personally knew him.

Due to his first album’s subsequent tour being postponed due to COVID-19, the majority of songs were from Kid Krow, which brought a sense of nostalgia from early 2020 and the lost adolescence of many in the crowd.

Whilst he did sprinkle some of the new singles from his sophomore album Superache the set, of course the concluding song was the internet hit Heather which was incredible to witness live, especially with the emotions of the audience as they related to each lyric.

The concert ended at 10pm, so very short, but nevertheless it made me excited to reintroduce concerts into my life again.

Conan Gray performing at the O2 Academy in Glasgow. Image Credit: Georgia Dalgarno

Phoebe Bridgers – June 22

The second concert of the year and arguably the most anticipated.

I love this woman, and so when she announced tickets for her Reunion tour, I fought with every fibre of my being to get a ticket.

The concert was being held in Glasgow’s famous Barrowland Ballroom and so I was additionally incredibly excited to finally experience one of the most talked about venues in the live music world.

I knew I wanted to be near the barrier and so decided to queue about 4 hours beforehand, but the sheer amount of fans already ahead of me was astounding.

I met some incredible people while waiting in the queue as we all mutually shared the same hysteria for her music.

Once we finally arrived inside the venue, the crowd fully embraced each other as we waited in anticipation, making everyone feel welcome and incredibly grateful to be in such as space.

Phoebe and her bandmates arrived on stage at around 9pm and were instantly greeted with hundreds of emotion-filled fans.

Playing her sophomore album from start to finish whilst sprinkling in some fan favourites from her debut album Stranger in the Alps, Phoebe left everyone completely speechless from being in awe of her incredible artistry and ability to perform beautifully.

Between songs, Phoebe and drummer Marshall Vore would always engage with the crowd, telling jokes and anecdotes or just stating their gratitude, it was hard not to feel incredibly overwhelmed with emotion just standing there.

She had the crowd completely moved during performances of Funeral, Moon Song and Graceland Too, whereas her very upbeat songs of ICU, Motion Sickness and I Know the End juxtaposed the sad songs perfectly and left us ecstatic.

It is safe to say everyone left that concert loving her even more before the show began.

It definitely left me craving her stage presence for weeks to follow, but for someone who is constantly touring, I know it won’t be long before she returns to my list of upcoming concerts.

Phoebe Bridgers performing at the Barrowland Ballroom. Image Credit: Georgia Dalgarno

THE DRIVER ERA- October 10

The third of the year and my first one since moving to Stirling, I was impatient about experiencing another concert after having a four-month break.

I acquired these tickets in early 2020 and after being rescheduled four times the concert was finally going ahead and I was more than ready.

Consisting of brothers Ross and Rocky Lynch who formed the band after their childhood band R5 split up, THE DRIVER ERA delivers a breath of fresh air to the indie pop sub-genre and are wildly underrated.

THE DRIVER ERA had 2 supporting acts lined up and so we were all anticipating not just an incredible concert, but an incredible event.

The first act was Jessarae, who delivered a beautiful and mesmerising acoustic set, giving the crowd a very laid-back Elvis feeling from him.

Following him was the brother of the band Ryland Lynch who invigorated the crowd with his DJ set.

Typically, I am not a fan of DJ sets and dance music in general but the atmosphere in the crowd and the music he delivered completely changed my mind and left me craving more.

The main act arrived on stage shortly after and it is safe to say it was incredible.

Performing music from all 3 albums for approximately 2 hours, the longest concert set I have ever witnessed, their vocals, stage presence and deliverance of incredible chords was exhilarating.

THE DRIVER ERA performing at the O2 Academy in Glasgow. Credit: Georgia Dalgarno

Inhaler – October 16

Easily my current favourite band, the Inhaler concert was a must.

Queuing since 3pm, I met some incredible people and finally bonded with people over a band none of my friends knew.

Standing for that length of time deemed worth it when we all received front row and were mere centimetres from the stage.

Supporting the band was STONE, a four-piece band originating from Liverpool.

I had never previously listened to them but the energy and songs they produced on stage left me instantly adding them to my Spotify playlists.

Soon enough Inhaler arrived on stage and beautifully executed their debut album It Won’t always be like this, including three other songs from their upcoming sophomore album Cuts & Bruises.

The crowd were electrified and many mosh pits were created.

It was easily one of the best concerts I have been to, despite the set being incredibly short, I have no regrets.

It was endearing, ecstatic and sentimental, we had personal experiences with the band and loved them even more than before the concert.

A few days before the concert they announced their upcoming album and subsequent tour, where they revealed they were not touring in Scotland.

Despite our anguish over this fact, it didn’t stop us making plans to travel to England next year to experience it all again.

Inhaler performing at the O2 Academy in Glasgow. Image Credit: Georgia Dalgarno

Widowspeak – November 19

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Widowspeak is a two-piece band consisting of couple Molly and Robert, and I have yet to meet another soul bar the people in the concert that know their incredible music.

Held in the Mono bar in the Merchant City area of Glasgow, it was certainly the smallest concert I have witnessed, with between 100-200 people in attendance.

Their songs were incredible live and made me love their 2022 album The Jacket much more than when I first discovered it.

The combined melodies and riffs of the guitars, the drums and beautiful vocals of Molly left me in awe.

It was incredibly intimate and mesmerising and I just knew that this had to be shared with others.

Before and after the concert the band would walk around and talk to invested fans who had turned up, and it is safe to say they were wonderful people after having multiple conversations with them over drinks.

They are fully a band who are meant to be played live and deserve to be heard by everyone at least once in their lives.

Widowspeak performing at the Mono Bar in Glasgow. Image Credit: Georgia Dalgarno

Fontaines D.C. – November 28

For this being the last concert of the year, it certainly did not disappoint.

The band’s two nights at the O2 Academy in Glasgow were sold out in quick succession, leaving me feeling disappointed I couldn’t close out 2022 and witness them live.

However, spontaneously a week before the concert was due to take place, I got tickets to see them in the O2 academy in Edinburgh.

Considering the venue is three miles outside the city centre, I believed it was impossible to attend a concert there and make it back to Stirling.

Nevertheless, Eva and I were determined to see our favourite band live, and we have no regrets.

Typically I queue for over 3 hours for concerts to be near the front, but winter and queuing was a scary proposition, but despite arriving at 6:30pm, O2 priority saved us again and we gained front row for the set.

We had no idea who was supporting the band, but when Wunderhorse appeared on stage at 8pm, we were ecstatic.

Fronted by Pistols actor Jacob Slater and three other bandmates, the band brought so much energy and charisma to the stage, enamouring the crowd and exciting lots of potential new fans.

Following their set, the crowd was buzzing with anticipation for the main act.

Beginning with Nabokov, the crowd was instantly electrified. To state the crowd was chaos would be an understatement, nevertheless the atmosphere was incredible and everyone was having the time of their lives.

Fontaines D.C. certainly knows how to engage their fans with their staggering stage presence.

From Skinty Fia to You said, and Jackie Down the Line into Roman Holiday, the band managed to flawlessly execute each performance, making the music sound superior to the recorded versions.

Standing mere centimetres away from frontman Grian Chatten, you could tell he was completely enamoured by the hundreds of fans who turned out to watch him perform and hear his distinct, poetic voice.

Despite it being potentially the most insane concert I have ever attended, I could not think of a perfect way to wrap up the 2022 concert season.

Fontaines D.C. performing at the O2 Academy in Edinburgh. Image Credit: Georgia Dalgarno

Featured Image Credit: Georgia Dalgarno

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BA(Hons) International Politics and Languages
Politics and Music journalist

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