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Laura Dean’s Top 10 Gigs of 2023

It’s safe to say that 2023 has been a thriving year for live music. From iconic acts to emerging talents, the abundance of touring bands turned the last twelve months into a kaleidoscope of options. 

At God is in the TV, our goal is to catch performances from as many bands as possible, adding an extra layer of difficulty when it’s time to select our favorite shows at the year’s end. Without further delay, I’ve highlighted ten of my top picks from 2023.

Self Esteem – Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield (02/09/2023)


Narrowing down my favourite Self Esteem show proved incredibly challenging, but I ultimately settled on her Rock N Roll Circus headline slot at Sheffield’s Don Valley Bowl, which marked the conclusion of her Prioritise Pleasure era. With talent and ambition that’s truly unmatched, there really is no other artist doing what Rebecca Lucy Taylor is as Self Esteem and from orchestrating electrifying mass singalongs to creating poignant pin-drop moments, she wholeheartedly dedicated herself to turning the entire night into an extraordinary celebration right from the start. The tent was full of love, unity, and respect, both on and off the stage. Adding an extra layer of significance to the show, I shared it with some good friends that I’d met at a Self Esteem show earlier in the year – making it even more exceptional.

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James – Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool (07/05/2023)

Despite having 40 years behind them, James are still able to continually surprise fans with everything that they do and their orchestral tour was truly remarkable. Not every band could pull off such an ambitious tour, but James are never shy of a challenge and it’s part of the reason that they’ve had such a successful and lengthy career. Fortunate to have attended five of the shows, I’m still in awe at the band’s ability to alter the setlist each night, offering a new experience. Why was Liverpool my favourite, you ask? It was my first so benefitted from the element of surprise and the atmosphere was nothing short of electric.

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Johnny Marr – Picturedrome, Holmfirth (17/07/2023)


I’m a huge Johnny Marr fan, so it’s unsurprising that one of my top shows of 2023 was one of his. The Manchester icon graced the stage at Holmfirth Picturedrome in July, marking his first UK show in over a year. With a captivating setlist featuring solo hits and classics from his days in the Smiths and Electronic, what made this show truly memorable was the live debut of two new tracks that were later featured on his Spirit Power compilation. It’s always refreshing and impressive to see an artist with an extensive career such as Johnny’s still pushing forward and based on the huge smile that was plastered across his face during this particular show, he’s still enjoying every single moment.

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Lucy Spraggan – Albert Hall, Manchester (06/05/2023)


I’ve been following Lucy Spraggan since her time on the X Factor all of those years ago – and it’s truly incredible to witness her career flourishing. In May, she delivered a triumphant set at Manchester’s Albert Hall, marking another milestone in her impressive musical journey. Though touring to promise her latest album, Lucy treated the crowd to a generous helping of her older material – though the response from the crowd was just as rapturous for new tracks as they were old. With her combination of relatable lyrics and a personality as loveable as the music that she writes and performs, Lucy had the crowd in the palm of her hand from start to finish. I’ve seen Lucy many times and i’m confident that this show will linger in the memories of everyone who was present for a long time to come. 

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Iggy Pop – Crystal Palace Park, London (01/07/2023)

In a total bucket list moment, I finally caught Iggy Pop live at Crystal Palace over the Summer. His electrifying performance, coupled with the timeless allure of Blondie as the supporting act, created a night of musical magic. Blondie, true to form, delivered a stellar performance, complementing Iggy Pop’s iconic stage presence and making the entire evening an unforgettable celebration of rock and punk brilliance.

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Frank Turner – Kanteena, Lancaster (28/01/2023)


My first show of 2023 was Frank Turner at Kanteena, which is a 500m2 repurposed warehouse in the heart of Lancaster. Frank stormed through a lengthy set list of tracks from all eras of his career and though his sets are notorious for being high energy, he’s perfected the art of a solo acoustic segment and the crowd were happy to match the tempo. It’s often said that it’s impossible to feel sad at a Frank show and this is not only due to his boundless energy and pure passion for what he does, but also because he never disappoints. 

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Blink 182 – AO Arena, Manchester (15/10/2023)

My high school obsession with Blink-182 remains intact, so you can imagine my excitement when I learned that the original trio were not only reuniting to record an album but they were also embarking on a tour. Witnessing them in Manchester was a thrill, and their performance was as fantastic as the last time I saw them back in 2014. Fuelled with nostalgia, their songs continue to resonate deeply and seeing their genuine enjoyment and camaraderie on stage brought a huge smile to my face.

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The Killers – Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh (29/08/2023)


I firmly believe that The Killers are one of the best live bands out there and it was great to see Johnny Marr supporting them in Edinburgh, after their extensive North American tour together last year. Setting the bar high, the band opened with ‘Mr Brightside’ and to my pleasant surprise, the night only elevated from there. A significant highlight was Brandon introducing Johnny back to the stage for a couple of tracks – adding an extra layer of excitement to their already spectacular performance.

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Sea Fever – Soup, Manchester (29/04/2023)


One of my favourite bands, Sea Fever are a five-piece collective fronted by Iwan Gronow from Haven and Johnny Marr’s band and Beth Cassidy from Section 25. Formed in 2019, the band also features New Order’s Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham – with Tom on bass, guitars, synths and programming, and Phil on guitars. Powering the band’s pulsing beats is Elliot Barlow. Since the release of their inaugural album  Folding Lines in 2021, the band have been passionately refining their live sound and rumour has it that LP2 is on the way. Back in April, I had the privilege of witnessing the band’s extraordinary performance in the intimate surroundings of Soup. Their meticulously polished sound not only attains a level that most musicians aspire to but also seamlessly translates the sheer joy of their collaborative efforts onto the stage.

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The Pretenders – O2 Ritz, Manchester (23/10/2023)


I was lucky enough to catch The Pretenders at Manchester’s O2 Ritz, which was part of their trio of club shows in September. When you go and see the Pretenders you can always guarantee that you’re in for a high energy show and their career spanning set packed one hell of a punch. While the fast paced rockets showcased Chrissie Hynde’s energy and James Walbourne’s driving guitar tones, the slower tracks shone the spotlight on Chrissie’s signature vocals that have gone from strength to strength over the years. It was clear to see that even after four decades, Chrissie was having the time of her life – and The Pretenders have a lot left to offer.

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God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.