2018 was an excellent year for music, be it new releases or live shows. Here are some of the best things to happen in 2018 according to the writers and photographers at Disarm. See how they stack up against your own year’s highlights.

The best gigs of 2018 according to Dave MacIntyre

  1. Johnny Marr at The Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto.
  2. The Cure at Hyde Park, London.
  3. The Charlatans at The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto.
  4. Depeche Mode at Air Canada Centre, Toronto
  5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at Scotiabank Centre, Toronto.
  6. Peter Hook and the Light at The Danforth Music Hall.
  7. Toots & and the Maytals at The Danforth Music Hall.
  8. Graham Coxon at the Mod Club, Toronto.
  9. We Were Promised Jetpacks at Lee’s Palace, Toronto.
  10. Social Distortion at The Danforth Music Hall.

The best gigs of 2018 according to Sally Hamilton

March – The Wonder Stuff and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, London – Stourbridge’s finest in a double headliner, truly rocked the Easter weekend.

April – Frank Turner, Cambridge – a week before the release of his seventh album Be More Kind, this gig was uplifting, emotional and suitably politically charged.

May – We Are Scientists, London – touring new album Megaplex and as ever providing a Technicolor burst of fun pop; high-energy, charming, hilarious and charismatic.

May – Jesus Jones, Cambridge – A fantastically raw set at a 200 capacity venue, from a band who sound even tighter now than they did in the late 1980s.

July – The Cure and Ride, London – The Cure were wonderful of course but highlight of the day for me was definitely Ride, as “Vapour Trails” drifted across the perfect blue of a summer’s day, I was transported back to 1991.

July – Del Amitri, Newcastle and Edinburgh – evaluating Justin Currie’s band on the basis of Roll to Me and Always the Last to Know is akin to abandoning New Order because of World in Motion or The Wonder Stuff on account of Dizzy. This highly-anticipated tour, from a band who have afforded the soundtrack to my life, provided loyal fans with plenty of sing-along classics and a few intensely beautiful moments courtesy of rare B-sides. Edinburgh Castle on a hot summer’s night, may well have been the most perfect venue of the year.

September – The The, Birmingham – a highly anticipated tour after a fifteen year hiatus and the atmospheric railway arches of Digbeth Arena in Birmingham provided Matt Johnson’s collective with a surprisingly cosy outdoor venue. A truly sublime gig, Johnson’s voice was so powerful and haunting, I can feel the goose bumps even now.

October – Suede, London – at the risk of drowning in a wave of my own hyperbole, there is nothing more to say other than that this was my gig of the year; from a band for whom a one-off come-back gig in 2010 has led to three of the best albums of their career and some of the most heart-breakingly beautiful music of the decade.

November – Shiiine On Festival, Minehead – fourth year of this fantastic, predominantly 80s/90s music festival for the camper who prefers a roof over their heads. This year’s highlights were Sleeper, My Life Story, Peter Hook, Stereo MCs, Black Grape, The Rifles, Mark Morriss, Cud and Miles Hunt.

These are just a few of the live shows which made 2018 so special and with John Grant, Sleeper, Peter Hook, The Ukrainians, Piroshka, The Bluetones, Suede and Shiiine On already in the diary as we creep toward the year’s end, 2019 looks set to match it.

The best albums and live gigs according to Nicole Swanson.

Top Albums:

1. IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Resistance

2. Shannon and The Clams – Onion

3. Shame – Songs of Praise

4. Ty Segall – Freedom’s Goblin

5. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

Top Live Shows: 

1. IDLES @ Lee’s Palace 

2. Metz @ Parts & Labour

3. Shannon and The Clams @ Lee’s Palace

4. Crown Lands @ Live Nation “Ones To Watch”

5. Shame @ The Horseshoe Tavern

The best albums and live gigs according to Patrick Gilrane

Top Albums:

Street Dogs – Stand for Something or Die for Nothing

The Street Dogs are a pedigree Blue Collar Boston punk band who write songs about today’s issues, including politics, labor and the struggles of everyday life. This is not a band that produces volumes of new music, but instead chooses content over everything else. Produced by the bands bassist Johnny Rioux, this album is one of powerful punk anthems. With solid Sonics’ and moving lyrics, this is a true punk masterpiece.  Favorite Song – “Angels Calling, featuring Slaine”.

The Interrupters – Fight the Good fight   

 The Interrupters are one of the top players in the ska genre and this album represents another solid effort on their part. Produced by Rancid front man Tim Armstrong, this album delivers infectious ska beats with Aimee Allen’s distinctive vocals. Anchored by the hit single “She’s Kerosene” this album continues the bands tradition of producing music full of energy and spirit, with subtle social undertones.  Interrupters music has always had a broad appeal in the genre, and this album continues down the same path.  Favorite Song  – “Outrage”.

Arkells – Rally Cry

Most albums for me have an adjustment period where after repeated listening I form an opinion, not this one. IMHO this album really seems to show Arkells in a relaxed state simply making fun music, but it’s not entirely that easy. Arkells do something unique, and that is package social and political messages in music that seems rather mainstream. With retro disco beats, gospel-esq backup singers and poignant lyrics I think Arkells have a real winner here. My prediction, Max and the Fellas may be busy on Juno night.

Favorite Song – “Eyes on The Prize”.

Top Live Shows:

Smashing Pumpkins 30th Anniversary – PNC Arts Center Holmdel NJ  8/2/18

I was actually rather anxious and maybe just a bit apprehensive about this show. Seriously, how often do reunions work out? We all remember things the last way we saw them, and nothing can compare to a past icon crashing and burning, ruining that image forever.  It was very clear from the outset that this band had exorcised all of its past demons and was focused, demonstrating creative clarity as I hoped they would.  I left this show very satisfied as a fan, but also a bit emotional for the band members who showed their fans that they were clearly back. 

Flogging Molly / Dropkick Murphys  – The Stone Pony Asbury Park NJ 6/17/18

This show, and entire tour was twenty years in the making and was like Christmas to Celtic punk fans like myself. In the past, these two bands seemed to suffer from a bit of sibling rivalry, even though their musical approach is rather different. With the flag of the Irish Republic flying high over the outdoor stage both bands took the stage delivering blazing performances, Flogging Molly more Trad based and the Murphys more punk based.  This show was the equivalent of a shit kicking, rowdy Irish party with five thousand dysfunctional friends; just perfect

The Gaslight Anthem – The Stone Pony Asbury Park NJ  8/18/18

This just may have been the musical event of this year in these parts. Being locals, The Gaslight Anthem are a huge band to us, known for their stellar songwriting and distinctive musical style. They posses a sound truly their own. This (limited) tour was in recognition of the tenth anniversary of the band’s stand out album  The 59 Sound, which was played in its entirety.  TGA took to a stripped-down stage, with nothing to distract the crowd. The only thing required? – the music.  TGA music has the ability to take you on a emotional journey, and that’s exactly what happened on this magical evening.