20 Musicians I’d like to see before I die

My good friend Opher has recently been creating lists of ‘My best gigs’, ‘My Fantasy gig list’ and ‘The gigs that got away’. Here’s another in the same vein.

  1. Roy Harper. I’ve actually seen Roy countless times but since his enforced retirement due to a pending retrial, he’s top of my list as someone I’d like to see one last time (or more if he can manage it). He is and always has been (IMO) a superb singer/songwriter and musician, whose body of work has stood the test of time and many of his themes and concerns are even more relevant today than when he first wrote them.

  2. Bob Dylan. I was just too young to appreciate what a genius songwriter Dylan was and is, although I got to listen to all his early records at the time they were released. But his music never really grabbed me. It took me many years to realise how good he is.

  3. Dweezil Zappa. Frank Zappa’s son is by all accounts a very accomplished guitarist and interpreter of his father’s musical legacy. I used to like Frank’s early work with the Mother’s of Invention, but again was never a rabid fan and much of his later work is unknown to me. It was actually quite a shock to discover what a brilliant guitarist he was, and I’m really enjoying discovering his later output.

  4. The Magic Band. I always had a lot of time for Captain Beefheart, and his masterwork ‘Trout Mask Replica’ still gets played regularly. The Captain’s backing band were and are all brilliant musicians IMO, and they’ve played the UK a couple of times now. If they come back again, I really hope I can get to one or more of their gigs

  5. Neil Young. I have actually seen Neil once, back in the day when Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young headlined with Joni Mitchell at Wembley. I was actually quite disappointed on the day because the sound was abysmal from where we were sitting. I’d very much like to see him both as a solo artist and also with Crazy Horse, which is his full-on electric band

  6. Judy Dyble. Judy was Fairport Convention’s lead singer in the early days, who left before the band became popular. Although I’ve heard bits and pieces of hers over the years which I’ve liked very much, I only caught up with her music again very recently. Her latest album is wonderful, and if I’m very lucky I’ll have saved enough money to buy a ticket to see her shortly in Gloucester, before they all sell out.

  7. The Who. A favourite band from the early years, who I’ve never actually seen live. I thought their recent appearance at Glastonbury was astonishing, and I hope they play some more using that lineup

  8. Wilko Johnson. Another musician who I’ve admired and enjoyed ever since he burst forth as lead guitarist and songwriter for Doctor Feelgood. The recent record with Roger Daltrey, ‘Going back home’ is well worth a listen

  9. Guy Davis. Guy is a New York based blues musician who plays guitar, banjo and and is an awfully good harp player. He writes very good, modern bluesy songs. I chanced upon him doing a live session on Paul Jones Blues program on BBC radio last year. If you don’t know of him, go check him out, he’s really good

  10. Van Morrison. Another artist that i’ve loved from the early days. He still continues to make brilliant records, and I’m glad to see he’s still touring

  11. Joni Mitchell. As previously mentioned I did see Joni but was disappointed with the sound on the day. Her own health problems, and the fact that she had pretty much already retired from the music business, make this one a bit of a pipe-dream I suspect

  12. Kate Bush. I quite liked her early stuff, but it was really ‘The Sensual World’ that really knocked my socks off. I did try to get to see her in her recent run at the O2, but I’d evidently left it a minute too late because the whole series had sold out by the time I got through to the ticket website 😦

  13. Ziggy Marley. Bob’s eldest son (I think). Saw him many years ago fronting the Wailers. Would love to see him again

  14. Paolo Nuitini. A modern singer/songwriter with a great future ahead of him. Lovely voice and great songs

  15. Joan Armatrading. Joan actually played Stevenage just before I moved back to Colchester last year and I had intended to see her there. Chalk that miss down to a senior moment 😦

  16. Linda Thompson. Linda’s work with ex-husband Richard forms part of my permanent soundscape. She has suffered from dysphonia for many years, but with their son Teddy’s encouragement and assistance, she recorded a blinder of a new album last year ‘Dreams Fade Away’, and more recently took part in the Thompson family project, which I’ve yet to hear. I hope she may yet get to do some live gigs. Not only a beautiful interpretative singer, she’s also a hilariously funny lady, and her Facebook blog is a joy to read each day

  17. kd lang. Another wonderful interpretive singer whose early work I’m not that familiar with. She first really caught my attention with her masterclass cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and her ‘Songs from the 49th Parallel’ is another big favourite

  18. Leonard Cohen. I saw Leonard in London in the 70s and have been a big fan from his earliest days. The gig, as it happens, was on his 40th birthday, and he was mesmerising. I’d really like to see him again.

  19.  Emmylou Harris. I’ve followed Emmylou from her earliest days with Gram Parsons and she just gets better and better. Another lovely singer and interpreter

  20. Peter Knight’s Gigspanner. Steeleye Span fiddle player has assembled an amazingly competent trio of musicians in Roger Flack on guitars and other stringed instruments and Vincent Salzfaas on congas and djembe. Their music defies description, but can be loosely described as World music with a traditional English folk bedrock. I was priveledged to see them a couple of years ago at Hitchin Folk club. I really hope its not the only time I’ll see them. Absolutely superb

  21. Shirley Collins, the acknowledged Queen of English folk-music was recently encouraged to sing again on her 80th birthday tribute/party. Like Linda Thompson, she suffers from dysphonia, so even that brief appearance, leading the assembled gathering with the Copper Family’s wonderful anthem ‘Thousands or More’ would have been lovely to see.  I at least have fond memories of seeing her a couple of times when she was in her prime and accompanied by her elder sister Dolly. I look forward to hearing and seeing the wonderful tribute DVD to her that is in the making

  22. As with all these lists, there’s always a couple more that should be on this list and I can think of at least 6 more women that I’d very much like to see, either for the first time or once more with feeling (Cara Dillon, The Unthanks, Joan Baez, Kate Rusby, Kathryn Tickell) and several male musicians too (Paul Young, Dave Swarbrick, Vin Garbutt, Tom McConville, Richard Thompson, Chris Wood+Andy Cutting, Boo Hewerdine, Eric Bogle). But I’m not going to nominate any  more living musicians.

    But in the event of Time Travel being discovered within the rest of my lifetime, I would dearly like to go back to late August 1970, Afton Farm on the Isle of Wight to witness the amazing force of nature that was Jimi Hendrix. And if I were to push my luck, I would have also liked to have seen The Doors and Tim Buckley.

Jethro Tull – Too Old to Rock n Roll, but too young to die



  1. Opher · August 17, 2015

    Now there’s a list to conjure with!! Can’t argue with all that. I haven’t heard of Guy Davis. But if you recommend him he must be good! Not sure about Paolo. So that’s a full list!! would have added Nick Harper on that list and Buddy Guy and Billy Boy Arnold. I think Billy Boy is touring in December – so that’s a must!! The Magics are touring in November and I aim to catch a couple – they are phenomenal!! And North Mississippi Allstars are superb. Come to that I wouldn’t mind catching the Fall and Blockheads again. Then there’s Jerry Lee Lewis and Buffy St Marie. I want to see the Barsteward Sons of Val Doonican – they were fun!!!
    Cheers Ian – great list!!


    • eeyorn the space donkey · August 17, 2015

      If the Magics are touring in November, we should try to meet up. My court case should be settled Nov 11, and I’ll hope to be celebrating 🙂
      I didnt include Nick as its a given that I’ll see him again. It would be good to see Buddy Guy. Havent heard of Billy Boy, will check him out


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