Kahmel Farahani – Gigs Of The Year. For me, 2023 was jam-packed with some absolutely amazing concerts, but here are some of my highlights.
One festival to rule them all. Hellfest 2023 proved to be another scorcher. From seeing KISS on their (final?) farewell tour to a revived Mötley Crüe and a crushing Pantera, Hellfest never disappoints.
To finally experience The Red Hot Chili Peppers live was a dream come true. Having the classic line-up back together and touring on the back of one of their best albums was simply the cherry on top. As the Chilis themselves all entered their 60s, it was almost beyond belief how ageless they were and, indeed, how brilliant they sounded.
Another legendary band that is still at the very peak of their performance is Metallica. I was privileged to be able to attend both nights that kicked off the Metallica 72 seasons tour in Amsterdam. If anyone has any doubts or reservations about whether they are still the kings of Heavy Metal in 2023, this tour has put them to rest yet again.
Speaking of iconic bands, I joined my partner in crime, Steve Ritchie, in covering W.A.S.P at London’s Roundhouse in March and what a gig it was. Blackie Lawless is still the ringmaster of the electric circus, even at the age of 66. There will be another band to fill the void when they finally decide to take that final bow, but, for now, W.A.S.P are still the beasts to beat.
Finally, the BST Hyde Park shows are always a joy to be a part of. This year, I had the chance to see Guns N’ Roses, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen, and as far as legendary performances go, it wasn’t a bad summer.
Top Albums Of The Year
Queens Of The Stone Age – In Times New Roman
It’s been six years since their last album, Villains, and Queens Of The Stone Age, came back swinging with a sledgehammer. From the ferocious Paper Machete to the mean, staggering riffs of Negative Space and Carnavoyeur, In Times New Roman Is a superb album.
Sonically and lyrically, it’s one of their meanest albums and all the more satisfying for it. QOTSA’s main man, Josh Homme, has had a turbulent few years and used it all as a cathartic exercise on this album. “Don’t say you love me no more, thought we were equals but broken peoples keep score,” Homme sings on negative space.
When so many other artists are trying to polish up and refine their work to reach an imagined larger audience, Queens Of The Stone Age simply dug right down and hit the vein as their best work always does. An outstanding work of art.
Some other albums that really impressed me in 2023 included:
Metallica – 72 Seasons is another very strong late-career addition to a discography where every addition is a bonus now. While there may not be any tracks to set the world afire, songs like Screaming Suicide or the epic Inamorata are fine additions to the live set and tracks that a younger band (or indeed many of their peers) would kill for.
Avenged Sevenfold – Life Is But A Dream is an exciting and challenging album in the best sense. Songs like Nobody and We Love You sound like Avenged Sevenfold, taking all their influences from Metallica and Dream Theater to King Crimson and Skrillex and shoving them into a blender left on high speed.
Combine that with their lyrics exploring Jungian Philosophy and the impact of AI on what it means to be human, and you have an album that is multi-layered in the truest sense of the word.
Ghost – Phantomime is by far my favourite cover album/EP of 2023 and just one of the most enjoyable releases of the year, full stop. Tobias and his nameless ghouls never fail to impress. Their take on classic songs like We Don’t Need Another Hero or the mighty Iron Maiden Phantom Of The Opera hit the perfect spot between remake and homage.
The Foo Fighters – But Here We Are really showed a band recovering from tragedy with the loss of Taylor Hawkins and successfully opening a new chapter ahead while still honouring their late drummer’s legacy. The title track, as well as the beautifully touching The Glass, are highlights.
I hope that 2024 will be just as amazing as 2023. It’s been a privilege to see and even interview so many musical icons and up-and-coming artists over the years, and I expect 2024 to be no different.
I expect to be adding a few more tattoos to the collection, probably with a musical reference here and there, too!
Watch this space and keep it MetalTalk!