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Fans enjoy year of vintage live shows: Top gigs of 2017

By Kirsten Rawlins | Music | Published:

From rock icons, to blasts from the past, pop idols and iconic last-ever shows, 2017 has been a stellar year for the Midland gig scene.

Aerosmith at Download Festival. Photo credit: Ben Gibson

It has also been a tragic year for music, with so many world-renowned stars passing away, with deaths of legends such as David Cassidy, AC/DC’s Malcolm Young, Tom Petty, Glen Campbell, Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell and Chuck Berry.

And West Midlands audiences were able to witness Chester’s last-ever show in July. He tragically died just 14 days later.

Chester Bennington

For many long time Linkin Park fans it was a revelation, with the band proving they were back to their very best.

“The entire band were brilliant from start to end - and vocalist Chester Bennington was bursting with so much energy, it ran like electricity from the stage into the crowd, as the they jumped and sang along with him on almost every song,” I said in my review.

The second city and Wolverhampton also played host to a huge range of rock, pop and soul legends this year, whose careers have spanned decades.

Among them were The Specials and Toots and The Maytals, who between them have been going for 95 years.

The Specials in Birmingham

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Robert Plant was electric at his hometown gig at the Civic Hall last month, while there were also great performances from Embrace, The Blockheads, Elton John, Gladys Knight, Gary Numan, Celine Dion, Lulu, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Metallica, Tom Jones, The Pretenders and Happy Mondays.

Robert Plant at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall in November

Shropshire had some great shows too - the top event of the year more than likely being Let’s Rock Shrewsbury back in May at The Quarry in Shrewsbury, which saw the likes of Billy Ocean, ABC, Tony Hadley and Jaki Graham perform.

My personal 'arena' gig of the year was Deep Purple at Arena Birmingham in November, with Alice Cooper coming in second and LeAnn Rimes a very close third.

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Deep Purple in Birmingham. Picture: Chris Bowley

Many will also hail the phenomenal performance put on by Download headliners Aerosmith at the Donington Park festival back in June.

“It was an emotional affair - which reduced me to tears,” I said in my review.

“Sixty nine-year-old Steven Tyler moved like he did in his youth - proving age really is just a number. No one performs like him.”

Aerosmith at Download Festival. Photo credit: Ben Gibson

Deep Purple were outstanding too and put on a real 'edge of your seat' performance.

Though all of the band stood out as stars in their own right, those who shone brightest were American guitarist Steve Morse and keys player Don Airey.

But that’s not to say that the legendary Ian Gillan was anything less than superb, with an unwavering, awesome range and the lush, deep, velvety tone for which the band has become renowned.

Shock rock deity Alice Cooper, meanwhile, gave what I considered the most entertaining show of the year filled with stunts and onstage antics at his November Arena Birmingham gig.

Alice Cooper at Arena Birmingham. Pic: Chris Bowley

The icon showed absolutely no signs of slowing, despite now being 69 years old.

American country star LeAnn Rimes gave an incredible vocal performance at her Symphony Hall show back in February.

When she opened her mouth and released her phenomenal voice, she sounded incredible and simply mystified the crowd.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark put on an incredible sold out show at the Symphony Hall last month.

And goth rocker Marilyn Manson certainly deserves a mention, having continued with his tour and played Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall after a stage prop fell on him in September, breaking his leg in two places.

With so many stars being incredibly quick to cancel shows due to aches, pains, sore throats and the like, Manson proved why he retains such legendary status 28 years after he first began.

Other shows worth mentioning came from Blondie, Kasabian, Gorillaz, Depeche Mode, Jamiroquai and The Dead Kennedys.

Blondie at Arena Birmingham. Pic: Aden Southall

Earlier this month the legendary Queen rocked the Arena Birmingham, with frontman Adam Lambert's displaying an incredible range with his effortlessly powerful vocals.

It was also a cracking year for comedy across the region.

Wolverhampton's Funny Things festival was a major hit, starring the likes of Jimmy Carr and Milton Jones, while one of the year's biggest shows saw Russell Brand pack out the Symphony Hall.

Romesh Ranganathan and Josh Widdicombe also came to town for the annual Hilarity Charity Comedy Gala, which raises funds for the Wolverhampton's wonderful Central Youth Theatre.

Meanwhile, Shropshire-born comic Greg Davies did what he does best –provoking a mixture of laughter and confusion – when he performed at a sold-out Wolverhampton Civic Hall.

Kirsten Rawlins

By Kirsten Rawlins
@kirsten_Star

Online Entertainment Editor for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star. E-mail me kirsten.rawlins@expressandstar.co.uk, or phone 01902 319368

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