Concert tours were back for good in 2022, although postponements and cancelations due to COVID remained common.
For this classic MTV kid, artists spoiled me this year with many first wave UK bands touring 40th anniversaries as a group or for a seminal album. So things certainly got busy for me as I raced not only around the DC metro area to catch all of my favorites but also across the country for acts that I simply couldn’t miss. That said, I limited my list of 2022’s best concerts to those that we could see in the National Capital Region. I was lucky as many favorite acts visited us in the past 12 months.
Here are my Top 10 concerts of 2022.
Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson)
The double bill of New Order and the Pet Shop Boys was the most anticipated show of 2020! Then it was delayed several times by the COVID pandemic. For this irresistible double bill, hailed The Unity Tour, the Pet Shop Boys served as the brains and New Order as the braun in a stunning performance by both at Merriweather Post Pavilion outside DC. New Order played first and mesmerized the crowd, and then Pet Shop Boys blew us away with their stagecraft and presentation.
Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Duran Duran once again won the day with a show in conjunction with Future Past, the band’s 15th studio album (released not long ago by BMG), and they did so with support from their friend and mentor Nile Rodgers. In getting the party started at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Nile and the CHIC collective ran through an amazing set of songs that he crafted over the past 50 years, all the while dancing and grooving along! Duran Duran were their remarkably polished and cooly well-assembled selves, and every song was a hit.
Andy McCluskey of OMD performs at the Lincoln Theatre. (Photo by Jason Nicholson)
OMD frontman Andy McCluskey may have wondered why his quartet weren’t at the 9:30 Club this time around, but no matter. A sold-out room full of fans turned the Lincoln Theatre into a great and wonderful party as OMD belated marked 40 years as a band in this DC-area stop on their Souvenir Tour. In the concert’s most extraordinary moment, OMD reset their positions during the show’s midpoint to place the four band members at the lip of the stage in a Kraftwerk formation, whereupon Andy dedicated the live rarity “Statues” to the group’s long-departed friend Ian Curtis.
Sparks perform at the Lincoln Theatre. (Photo by Jason Nicholson)
I was among a small crowd to see Sparks at 9:30 Club in 2013. What a difference nine years makes, as Sparks returned with an award-winning film, a highly regarded Edgar Wright documentary, and a very anticipated career retrospective for a very packed show at the Lincoln Theatre. You couldn’t have squeezed one more person into this spectacular concert! Once again, Russell and Ron Mael proved to be the quintessential two-fisted auteurs of art rock and unmatched composers and deconstructors of pop music.
Gang of Four perform at Black Cat. (Photo by Jason Nicholson)
Previous to the Gang of Four celebrating a remastered box set, Gang of Four: 77-81, released by Matador Records, I only had ever seen the very good performances by the late Andy Gill, wherein the master guitarist assembled a new Gang of Four band. With Andy gone, the other originals returned for a USA tour that promoted their career catalog. Frontman Jon King was an energetic and mesmerizing frontman, whipping himself and the crowd into a frenzy. With his chiseled looks and white hair, Jon might strike you as an aging British film star, but once he opens his mouth, he transformed into a spitfire musician of the highest caliber.
Franz Ferdinand performs at 9:30 Club. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
I’ve always admired Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, but the frontman has truly taken things to the next level over the past few years. As some original bandmates left the fold, Alex has recruited extraordinary replacements who manage to take the band in fresh directions. At 9:30 Club, new drummer Audrey Tait made her local Franz debut, and all was well in what proved to be an exciting night out. Full of knowing smiles, Alex stepped to his left to play guitar alongside bassist Bob Hardy, and he also paraded right to trade licks with guitarist Dino Bardot and keyboardist Julian Corrie, both of whom joined Franz Ferdinand in 2017 after the departure of founding guitarist Nick McCarthy. This show was nothing less than fantastic!
Roxy Music performs at Capital One Arena. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Ferry. Manzanera. Mackay. Thompson. I’ve had the honor of seeing Bryan Ferry solo several times now, but I never thought in my life that I would see Roxy Music in concert. But here all four of them were in the flesh to celebrate 50 years as a band with a USA tour to the thrill of a very engaged and focused audience who were happy to dance their hearts out and scream for more songs. There never will be a group so cool as Mr. Ferry, saxophonist Andy Mackay, guitarist Phil Manzanera, and drummer Paul Thompson, and they toured a respectable selection of their storied songs from across their groundbreaking catalog at Capital One Arena.
Culture Club performs at Wolf Trap. (Photo by Jason Nicholson)
After being insightfully and appropriately lauded by the wise and witty Dave Wakeling of The English Beat, Boy George (vocals), Roy Hay (guitar, keyboards), and Mikey Craig (bass) took the stage for a wildly entertaining evening of music as Culture Club. (Missing was drummer Jon Moss who recently departed the band under a cloud.) Culture Club delightfully relaxed and unwound on the large stage of Wolf Trap’s Filene Center, playing through a set of 18 songs that included some very strong new songs and several covers, along with the Culture Club hits we know and love.
Wet Leg performs at DC9. (Photo by David LaMason)
Cheeky British post-punk duo Wet Leg boomed quickly on the strength of their single “Chaise Longue” and its followups. Vocalist Rhian Teasdale and guitarist Hester Chambers then dropped their debut Wet Leg album via Domino earlier this year. Wet Leg thus was the buzziest band to play DC city, much less DC9, for a debut tour performance in recent memory. Wet Leg arrived at DC9 fresh from New York City, where they sold out the 1,800-capacity Brooklyn Steel, to perform for a totally enthralled capacity crowd of about 150 people at the thoroughly sold-out DC9.
Jae Matthews of Boy Hasher performs at Black Cat. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Boy Harsher were a revelation at Black Cat. Whether you are familiar with their work or not, you should check all preconceptions of the duo at the door when you go to see them. Boy Harsher are a nightclub act in the best possible way, using their skills to string seemingly simple compositions into grand, sophisticated tapestries. They were thoroughly entrancing in their biggest DC show to date, and I’m convinced they will only get even better from here.