Week One: The Bad News Keeps On Coming
After spending four years on side projects and private ventures Jack and Meg White officially parted ways in February, calling time of their decade defining garage rock juggernaut The White Stripes. The band, whose UK live performances were few and far between in their latter years, left many newer fans heartbroken as the world waved goodbye to a band who’d produced more epic riffs and licks than any modern band.
Tragically The White Stripes weren’t the only ones to depart the world stage in February as the great Gary Moore was found dead in a Spanish hotel room at the age of 58. Moore formerly of Thin Lizzy was responsible for some the most beautiful and instantly recognizable guitar lines in music history, most notably the tremendous “Parisienne Walkways” and “Still In Love With You”. (For more on Moore feel free to enjoy the tribute I wrote for Moore in Guitar Planet magazine).
Following the White Stripes lead it appeared that all of the noughties great innovators were set to retire, as James Murphy announced that LCD Soundsystem, one of the decade’s true unlikely headliners, would be retiring with a three hour concert at Madison Square Garden: a show which duly sold out in seconds. While the American indie community reeled, the UK was about to suffer it’s own great loss as Mike Skinner called time on his game changing post-garage outfit The Streets.
On a lighter note, gossip columns were reporting that Beyonce would be headlining Glastonbury…surely not?
The first week of February cut across chart weeks and saw two new number ones as Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R” and Jessie J’s “Price Tag” traded places atop the singles chart while Adele rained supreme on the album chart, and began to show signs of single handedly reviving the music industry. Reading favourites The Joy Formidable and Chapel Club both snuck into the chart 31 (one week after the other).
Week Two: Surprise Returns and Surprise Victories
Radiohead shocked the world after a year’s worth of mixed messages by announcing that their new album The King Of Limbs would be released in seven days, via their website.
Arcade Fire continued to bask in the glory of 2010 winning album of the year at the Grammys for The Suburbs, on what turned out to be a night of upsets, topped off by Esperenza Spalding beating Justin Beiber to the Best New Artist Prize. Other winners included Muse for best rock album and Iron Maiden for best metal performance.
The real stars of the show, however, were Lady Gaga who arrived cuertesy of a giant egg to unleash “Born This Way” and Bob Dylan who teamed up with Mumford & Sons among others to deliver a stomping rendition of “Maggie’s Farm”.
PJ Harvey made waves of her own back in the UK unleashing Let England Shake, arguably the most important British album in a generation to near unanimously perfect reviews.
Meanwhile Michael Eavis gave into the gossip columns and confirmed that Beyonce would indeed headline Glastonbury Festival while Adele and Jessie J maintained a firm grip on the pop charts while James Blake and The Streets quietly crept onto the album chart.
Week Three: Happier Days
The Brit Awards attempt to take music was somewhat seriously was undermined by a typical James Corden performance, and a show that featured a bizarre mix between celebrity embarrassment, humble deserving winners and huge stadium sized set pieces.
Arcade Fire won best international group, Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons was named best album, Laura Marling was named best British Female and the show saw two bizarrely theatrical performances by Tinnie Tempah and Plan B, two acts who would dominate the Festival season.
The enduring highlight of the show was a heartbreakingly poignant performance by Britain’s leading light: Adele. So powerful was the performance that “Someone Like You” shot to number one, joining 21 which remained atop the albums chart for a fourth week.
Coldplay were announced as Glastonbury’s third and final headliner joining Beyone and U2, giving the festival about as much headline star power as humanly possible. However, Coldplay’s announcement was met with skepticism, and was quickly labeled “safe” and “uninspired” by many commenters.
Sonisphere Festival continued to move towards dream line up status as Motorhead, Mastodon and In Flames joined Slipknot and The Big Four on a jam packed line up.
Ending on a happy note: London’s Legendary 100 Club found a saviour in Converse who signed an endorsement deal to keep the cozy venue in business. Ironically, Punks were thrilled to hear the that the venue famously home to the Sex Pistol would be saved by corporate big bucks. A giant manufacture saving the home of one of the great manufactured bands – how fitting.
Week Four: Let’s All Laugh At Andy Copping
That’s not intended to be cruel, it’s more of a reflection of a month that saw the Downlaod organizer savaged by both his fans and critics when he brought Def Leppard back to headline for the second time in three years, after their enjoyable but underattended 2009 slot. Copping, not one to shy away from the heat, took to twitter and the Download Forum to defend the booking, but when he answered complaints that Def Leppard had no new reason to play the festival, his suggestion that a live CD represented new material left fans shaking their heads.
The NME Awards passed without controversy following the previous year’s media war between Courtney Love and Lily Allen, as Reading Headliners Muse were named Best British Band and My Chemical Romance were named Best International Band. Glastonbury was named best festival (*shakes fist*) while Aracde Fire and Foals picked up the Best Album (The Suburbs) and Best Single (“Spanish Sahara”) awards respectively.
Adele entered the record books matching The Beatles by having two singles and two albums in the Top 5 simultaneously.
And finally…The Monkees reunited as Jack White pledged he’d never formed another band.
Deaths In February6th Gary Moore – Guitarist, Thin Lizzy. 27th Eddie Kirkland – Blues Guitarist
Notably Albums Released In February1st Rolling Blackouts – The Go! Team 8th Zonoscope – Cut Copy 8th No Country Blues – Greg Allman 8th Computers & Blues – The Streets 8th James Blake – James Blake 14th The People’s Key – Bright Eyes 14th Let England Shake – PJ Harvey 15th Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will – Mogwai 18th The King Of Limbs – Radiohead 21st Yuck – Yuck 21st D.R.U.G.S – D.R.U.G.S 21st The Magic Place – Julian Barwick 21st Underneath The Pine – Toro Y Moi 22nd Truant Wave – Patrick Stump 28th Wounded Rhymes – Lykke Li 28th Who Are You – Jessie J 28th Different Gear, Still Speed – Beady Eye 28th Going Out In Style – Dropkick Murphys