When it comes to concerts, Vancouver’s year has been filled with local and international talent, from older acts to the latest up-and-coming bands. The summer saw a return of the West Coast’s favourite music festivals, including the return of both in Squamish and Pemberton. But festivals aside, the city itself hosted some of the year’s biggest artists in some of our favourite local venues. Although it was tough to choose from the many amazing shows we have seen, here are some of the best concerts that hit the city in 2014.
Probably one of the musical highlights for many who attended this show on May 11, Childish Gambino electrified a sold-out crowd at PNE Forum as part of his Deep Web Tour. The charismatic Gambino, also known as actor/comedian Donald Glover, was joined by a full band and maintained crowd interaction throughout his set. Between his dancing, mix of slowjams and upbeat tracks, the stage set, backdrop changes and the flashing lights, Gambino’s show was definitely one of the most memorable concerts of the year.
On May 3, Armin Van Buuren – arguably one of the world’s biggest DJs – stopped in Vancouver as part of his Armin Only: Intense tour. Being a fan for many years, and having attended several of his shows previously, this was unlike any Van Buuren show in the past. The Intense tour was a rare treat to his fans: no openers, no closers, just a live show with a spontaneous DJ set for five hours. This massive EDM show production, which included smoke machines, incredible visuals and lighting, and of course, almost all of Van Buuren’s hits, was easily our highlight of EDM shows this year.
Image: Rishad Daroowala
There aren’t many artists that can get away with an outdoor concert in the rain, but Lana Del Rey somehow managed to make her fans forget all about Vancouver’s grey skies. Del Rey played a sold-out PNE Amphitheatre on May 25, to a crowd that cheered, danced, even cried at the sight of their beloved pop star. Wearing a Canada flag at times, Del Rey performed hits from her three album- including her 2014 release “Ultraviolence.” Lana Del Rey’s show was memorable as a show to attend, as she says, in “the pouring rain.”
The most buzzed about singer of the year, Sam Smith, left Vancouverites breathless after his September 24 show at the Orpheum Theatre. The “Stay With Me” singer stopped in Vancouver- the only Canadian date on his tour- and fans were ecstatic to see the international superstar in such an intimate venue. His charm and wittiness won the crowd over between his melancholic songs, and changed-up versions of classics like Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know.” We do know this, Smith’s next show in February is at Rogers Arena – and it is bound to sell out.
One of this year’s top breakthrough artists is LA singer-songwriter BANKS (aka Jillian Banks). Some lucky Vancouver fans got to see BANKS twice this year, as she played a show in May at Venue, and later returned for her sold-out “Goddess Tour” on October 15 at the Commodore Ballroom. BANKS’ debut album “Goddess” was released just a month prior to her tour date in Vancouver, and her fans eagerly sang along to each song at her Commodore show. Known for her impeccable voice, BANKS delivered a beautiful 60 minute set that included a lot of fan interaction. Ms. Jillian Banks has definitely won the hearts of fans in our city.
It has been a long time since I’ve heard an album as raw, soulful and original as Hozier’s self-titled debut, which was released in September. But even months before that album was released, Hozier’s first Vancouver concert on October 20 was completely sold-out at the Commodore Ballroom. The young Irish singer-songwriter, whose name is Andrew-Hozier Byrnes, has an unmistakable voice that wooed the audience from the start of his show until the very end. The Commodore was eerily quiet between songs, as his fans stood mesmerised by his diverse spread of arrangements and vocals (and sense of humour). And Hozier’s fans in the city adore him, his 2015 show was sold-out even before his debut concert in October. Impressive? Yes. But Hozier is worth it.
Honourable mentions go to Chet Faker (September 21 at the Commodore Ballroom), How to Dress Well (August 26 at Fortune Sound Club), OK GO (July 19 at Venue) and Fleetwood Mac (November 18 at Rogers Arena).