Rock N Roll Cocktail’s Best Shows of 2023 – A Visual Journey

Wow, what a whirlwind 2023 has been! As the chief lens and pen behind Rock n Roll Cocktail, I’ve had the thrill of photographing over a hundred bands, capturing the raw energy and soul of live music. This year was particularly poignant for me as I bade a heartfelt farewell to my all-time favourite band, a moment etched in my memory and lens forever.

But it wasn’t all farewells. 2023 was also a year of “firsts” and “finallys.” I ticked off a couple of dream gigs from my bucket list and, in a surreal twist, my work graced the covers of a few records – something I’ve dreamed of since I first picked up a camera. I’ve also just launched my new book “Second Skin” which is now available to order worldwide! 

Strap in and crank up the volume, because I’m about to drop the ultimate chart of 2023’s rock euphoria – my top shows and bands of the year! We’re talking legendary headbangers, fresh faces shredding the rulebook, and performances so electric they could light up the night sky. These are the acts that didn’t just play music; they set the stage on fire and sent shockwaves straight to the soul. Get ready to discover your new rock obsession right here.

And while we’re on the topic of favourites, let’s talk gear for a second. I’ve fallen in love with the Nikon Zf. Hands down, it’s the best camera I’ve ever used – a true game-changer in capturing the essence of live music.

So, grab your backstage pass and join me on this retrospective journey of the most memorable rock moments of 2023. Here’s to the music, the memories, and everything in between!

These are the shows that blew my mind in 2023:

Death Cult – Islington Assembly Hall – 22/11/23- Something I never thought I’d see live. This was the last show of the tour, the third night of three sold-out shows. Really incredible to see the band focus on the early stuff. It sounded like it all came out yesterday. My favorite singer of all time Ian Astbury has found the goth rock fountain of youth. And of course they closed the show with “She Sells Sanctuary” and it was magical.

Starsailor: Celebrating 20 Years of ‘Silence is Easy’ – Electric Ballroom – 02/12/23- Witnessing frontman James Walsh perform live is an experience unto itself. It’s astounding how one person can craft such an array of incredible songs, all while possessing one of the most remarkable voices in the music scene. Their performance of the entire ‘Silence is Easy’ album was nothing short of stellar, and the surprise of two new songs, along with the announcement of a fresh album for 2024, was the cherry on top. It’s truly heartening to see Starsailor continuing to weave their musical magic after all these years.

Generation Sex – O2 Apollo, Manchester – 11/07/23 – Absolutely mind-blowing to see these guys on the same stage together. It was all there, Sex Pistols classics, Billy Idol staples, and of course everything in between from Generation X, The Professionals, and a few choice covers (My Way, I’m Not Your Stepping Stone). Bucket list item, checked.

KISS – O2 Arena – 02/07/2023 – I said goodbye to one of my all time favorite bands in 2023. KISS were as magical as ever and I for one will be looking forward to the avatars coming back in 2027!

Spoon – O2 Arena – 21/06/2023 – These rock ‘n’ roll wizards transform riffs into pure gold and sounds into cosmic dust. Their Austin roots blend indie rawness with mainstream rhythms, like a modern, hipster Billy Joel with an enigmatic twist.

The setlist was a bold curveball. Classics took a backseat, making way for gems like “Got Nuffin” and “The Underdog,” with a flirtation of 2022’s ‘Lucifer on the Sofa.’ Their new ‘Memory Dust’ EP was notably absent, but it didn’t dim the magic.

Britt Daniel’s voice is a road-trip anthem personified, each note a spellbinding experience. Spoon isn’t just a band; they’re rock ‘n’ roll magicians.

Princess Goes – EArtH, Hackney – 08/10/23– Michael C. Hall, known for “Six Feet Under” and “Dexter,” impressed with his band’s unique “avant-indie” sound at London’s EartH theatre, it was like the Sisters of Mercy crossed with the Scissor Sisters and David Bowie. The band, featuring members from The Wallflowers, Morningwood, and Blondie, stood out with tracks like “Come of Age,” “Shimmer,” “Jetpack,” and “Beija,” each echoing different musical legends and styles. (Also one of my favorite albums of the year)

The Hives- In their signature sharp tuxedos, crashed the UK’s rock scene with a bang, blending high-octane garage rock with a touch of class. Celebrating 20 years of music mayhem, they took a detour from their UK stadium tour with Arctic Monkeys to rock an electrifying, intimate gig at The Garage in North London, honoring its 30th anniversary with their unmistakable, polished grit.

Jake Shears – The Village Underground- 02/06/23 – Scissor Sisters’ dynamic frontman, lit up the night at the Village Underground with a show of dazzling lights and pulsating beats. His unstoppable energy transformed the stage into a realm of transcendental vibes. Celebrating the release of his phenomenal new album, ‘Last Man Dancing,’ the evening was nothing short of magical. Jake’s currently crushing it in the West End’s hit musical Cabaret, but I hope he gets back to touring around this album, this one’s got legs.

Sleep Token – Eventim Apollo – 22/02/23– Dominating 2023 with extreme versatility, London’s masked enigma served up a stunning contrast in their latest hits. From radio-ready tunes like ‘Aqua Regia’ and ‘Granite,’ akin to Billie Eilish’s charm, to the intense depths of heavy metal with ‘The Summoning’ and ‘Chokehold,’ they showcase a range from pop allure to extreme metal prowess.

My Vitriol – Scala – 17/11/23 – The Nu-gaze pioneers once again mesmerized with the spectacular sights and sounds from their acclaimed debut album. This performance, however, had an exciting twist – new music that fueled even more anticipation for a potential new album in 2024. Their enduring artistry and fresh tracks hint at an exciting future for their fans.

BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE YEAR – The View – Scala – 07/12/23 – Watching The View in 2023 felt like witnessing a band’s rebirth. On stage, their confidence bordered on cockiness, yet it was a perfect fit for their evolved persona. They’ve moved beyond relying on past hits, now serving up fresh tracks from their latest album, ‘Exorcism of the Youth.’ Among these, ‘Dixie’ emerges as a standout. Kyle Falconer has evolved into a maestro of pop anthems, creating songs that don’t just catch your ear, they command your full attention

Bloodstock Festival: My inaugural UK metal fest adventure was an absolute blast. Representing Thunderflix, the startup I advise, we not only attracted a ton of new subscribers but also had the amazing opportunity to mingle with iconic metal bands. These are the artists who shaped my formative years and continue to influence my taste in extreme music. Highlights included seeing Megadeth live (and casually at breakfast every morning), meeting the legendary Ugly Kid Joe, discovering new talents like Skynd, Pest Control, and Zeal & Ardor, and being blown away by the powerhouse performance of Swedish technical death metal pioneers Meshuggah. Those three days were a pure metal utopia.

Monsters of Rock Cruise – My fourth cruise and the best yet. The lineups keep getting better and better and it’s truly one of the best experiences I’ve ever been a part of. Tora Tora, Chris Holmes, Queensryche, Wig Wam, Jason Bieler, Vain, Faster Pussycat, Extreme, Stephen Pearcy, and my favourite from this year’s cruise, the mighty D.A.D!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my 2024 bands to watch coming up next! In the meantime, my new book just came out and is now available worldwide! 

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Jason Miller
Jason Miller

Jason Miller is a leading digital B2B marketer, who’s held senior roles at LinkedIn, Marketo, and ActiveCampaign. Before entering the B2B space, he spent ten years at Sony, developing and executing marketing campaigns around the biggest names in music. He is a prolific keynote speaker, digital marketing instructor at UC Berkeley, and best-selling author. Also an accomplished rock concert photographer, his work appears in books, magazines, and album covers.

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