13th Floor Top 10 Concerts of 2020

Its been a wild, strange year and finally 2020 is over. With Covid breathing down our necks the live music scene in New Zealand is still alive but struggling without any overseas artists allowed in the country.

Despite the lack of big international tours after March, its been a rich, rewarding year for the adventurous concert-goer.  Fortunately we have a wealth of local talent ready to take up the slack. So here are our Top 10 Concerts of 2020 as reviewed by The 13th Floor counting down from 10 – 1

10. Elton John – Mt Smart Stadium February 16th The year got off to a grad start with international acts pouring in. We saw Billy Idol, Sleaford Mods and… Elton John! 40,000 fans crowed into Mt Smart to catch his sold-out show. A show that ended dramatically abbreviated by an ailing 72-year-old superstar struggling to finish his 2 hour + set. A brave performance by a man determined to not let the sun go down on him. Click here for the 13th Floor report… words by Veronica McLaughlin and photos by Chris Zwaagdyk.

9. The Beths – Powerstation July 11th. On the other side of Lockdown Mach 1 The Beths rocked The Powerstation the day after releasing their new album, Jump Rope Gazers. With everyone missing out on live music for months, the vibe given off by the band and the crowd was magical. Click here for the 13th Floor report… words by Marty Duda and photos by Veronica McLaughlin

8. Gramsci – ASB Waterfront Theatre October 16th Here’s one out of left field, Paul McLaney’s Gramsci thrilled the fans who ventured out to the ASB Waterfront in Auckland. Along with Jol Mulholland and Greg Haver, Paul let loose with a series of guitar solo that would leave David Gilmour drooling. And the light show was a bonus. Prog rock lives! Click here for The 13th Floor report… words by Marty Duda and photos by Veronica McLaughlin.

7. Lou’ana – Q Theatre November 26th It’s shows like this that made 2020 special. When the year began we had never heard of Lou’ana. But with the release of her album, Moonlight Madness, we heard her loud and clear. Up in the cozy confines of the Q Theatre loft, Lou’ana and her big band (and coven) put on a show like no other. There was something for everyone in this show subtitled, A Sixties Witch Carnival…2 string players among the 8-piece band, a burlesque dancer, plenty of impressive original songs inspired by the likes of The Ronettes and Amy Winehouse and Lou’ana’s own sparkling voice and stage presence. Click here for The 13th Floor report… words and photos by Marty Duda

6. Miss June – Tuning Fork June 20th More post-lockdown bliss from one of our favourites. Miss June rocked The Tuning Fork with ferocious renditions of songs from their album, Bad Luck Party. Sadly, news of the passing of Kiwi great Aaron Tokona passed through the crowd during the show, making us appreciate all the more that we were still here and still rocking. Click here for the 13th Floor report… words by Marty Duda and photos by Todd Buchanan.

5. Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock – Tuning Fork March 1st. It seems like a lifetime ago that these two Americana giants were here among us. It doesn’t get any better than this…the former Flatlanders mesmerized the Tuning Fork audience with songs that will live on long after these grizzled veterans are gone. Click here for The 13th Floor report from Reverend Orange Peel.

4. Gladys Knight – Civic Theatre February 13th. Oh my God! This was a real highlight. 75-year old Gladys Knight took charge of Auckland’s Civic Theatre and put on a vocal display sounded like someone a third of her age. She was, in a word, incredible. Hits such as I’ve Got To Use My Imagination, I Heard It Through The Grapevine and Midnight Train To Georgia poured forth from the Civic stage. A once in a lifetime experience. Click here for The 13th Floor report… words by Caitlin Smith and photos by Rachel Webb.

3. Amanda Palmer – St. Matthew-In-The-City November 20 Amanda found herself standed in paradise and we were all the better for it. After trying to wrap up her world tour in NZ earlier this year, Amanda is still here and there was never any doubt that this night was going to be magical. The massive St Matthew’s church almost…I say almost…stole the show, but nothing was going to steal; Amanda’s thunder. Carrying the entire 2 hour + show alone (save for a brief appearance from Chlöe Swarbrick) Amanda was on fire. Here connection with the audience and with the church was unique and dazzling. When she finally closed with a version o Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah no one could breathe. Click here for the 13th Floor report… words by Alex Cabrè and photos by Sonia Wilson, Dhani Phillips and Marty Duda.

2. Troy Kingi & The Clutch Hollywood Avondale October 25th Is there anything this man can’t do?? In the middle of releasing his 10 album in 10 year with 10 different genres, Troy and his mighty band presented songs from his latest album, The Ghost Of Freddie Cesar.  And what a band! Possibly the funkiest ensemble this side of P-Funk Troy proved to be a master showman and musician. Booties were bouncing as bassist Marika Hodgson strings were poppin’. Click here for The 13th Floor report… words by Marty Duda and photos by Todd Buchanan.

1. Reb Fountain – Mercury Theatre November 14th As fantastic as all these previous show were, nothing beats Reb Fountain’s opening night show at Auckland’s Mercury Theatre. Coming out of our second lockdown, Reb’s much-delayed show was definitely worth waiting for. Her album is one of the year’s best and this re-defined Reb is full of fire and emotion. Songs such as Don’t You Know Who I Am, Hey Mom and Lighthouse resonated throughout this beautiful venue that Reb seems to own. And her version of Nick Cave’s 15 Feet Of Pure White Snow was the icing on the cake. Click here for The 13th Floor report… words by Marty Duda, photos by Ivan Karczewski.

We are so lucky to have live shows here in New Zealand and so lucky to have talent such as Reb and Troy and Lou’ana on hand to keep us happy. Bring on 2021!

Marty Duda