chris virtue 2023

Top Ten in no particular order

1. Iggy Pop – Every Loser
After the WTF-was-that-all-about of 2019’s “Free”, Iggy is back doing what Iggy does best – fronting a small combo and letting it rip.

We get a taste of most of Iggy’s personas, including the punk god to the dodgy philosopher to the Sinatra-influenced sleazebag. Standout tracks, well, pretty much all of them, but “Strung Out Johnny” turned into an earworm that went for weeks.

At 76, he still shows that he’s got plenty to offer and plenty to say and this would be a fitting record for him to go out on. Compare it to the doggerel the Stones put out recently. Sir Michael sounds like he’s singing through a vocoder FFS. 

2. Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton
Touring her “Faster” album from 2021, Samantha ripped up the Manning Bar in Sydney in February giving us a dose of high octane blues guitar and a great voice. 

In May, Samantha and Jesse Dayton (he tore the Marrickville Bowlo up in 2022) released one the records of year in “Deathwish Blues”. They’ve been touring together and they’re here in May. Not to be missed.

3. Redd Volkaert and Bill Kirchin
Redd is one of the finest Tele players and was here in February playing with Ray Beadle. He was back in October with Bill Kirchin (Commander Cody). Two players with an impeccable touch and such a clean sound.  Ray was busy during the year with a couple of excellent albums.

4. You Am I play “Tommy”, Palais Theatre, Melbourne, in August
“Tommy” - Townsend’s masterpiece - is something that I’ve been listening to for most of my life and I doubt that I’ll ever fully understand it. 

I don’t really go for tribute shows. I’d rather stay home and listen to the original, but I was in Melbourne in August at a loose end and I’m so glad I saw it. From the overture through to the handful of Who classics at the end it was perfect. Having Sarah McLeod and Hayley Mary do almost of the vocals was inspired.

BTW, “Live at Leeds” is one on my favourite albums, live or otherwise. After seeing this show, I picked up the three LP monster reissue from 2016 of the entire Leeds University show. It is something to behold.

5. Schizophonics, Crowbar, Sydney, in March
Wow! Jimi Hendrix meets James Brown? Insane! So much energy. So slick. Unreal! Can’t wait to see them again.

6. Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples,  ICC April
Bonnie has lived the life. She’s in her mid 70s now and remains one of my favourite singers and slide guitarists. I said to my mate (a bassist) during the show when she had this ‘70s jam groove thing going with her guitarist and bassist. “Wouldn’t you just love to be in her band?” “Fuck yeah”, was his response.

Mavis Staples opened the show and in her 80s is still amazing.

7. Gustavo Cortinas, Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, October
Mexican-born and Chicago-based, this guy is one of the great modern jazz drummers. I wasn’t able to see him in Sydney, so it was off to Canberra to see him with my friend Alison. So glad I did. It was a top show with a local pick up band that he met just before the gig. Awesome!

8. Charlie Owen and Penny Ikinger, Smith’s Alternative, October
Two weeks later I was back in Canberra because I had a clash for their Sydney gig and I had missed Penny the last couple of times she’s been up here. Penny was in fine voice (as usual) and Charlie was in fine form with some terrific playing and great storytelling. 

Penny’s latest album “Travels and Travails” is an excellent testament to a fabulous career.

9. Those Pretty Wrongs, The Great Club, Sydney in August
One of the highlights of the year for me was interviewing Jodie Stephens (Big Star) and Luther Russell. I wasn’t able to see Alex Chilton when he toured in the 90s and this was the next best thing. 

10. The Victims, Crowbar, Sydney in December
“Television Addict”. What a ball-tearer of a song. Another great interview for me was chatting with Dave Faulkner. Great talker. Top show. Fabulous to see Dave in full-on rock mode with James Baker on the skins. Ray Ahn must have been having the time of life.

Honourable mentions:

Grace Petrie, Baroque Room, January

Steve Poltz, Blue Mountains Music Festival, March

The Vampires, Lawson Mechanics Institute, November

Fallen soldiers: Jeff, Renee, Ron, Brod, Joy, Louis, Top Ten and all the others we lost in 2023.

Chris Virtue presents Virtual Unreality on 2RRR 88.5 FM on Fridays at 19:00 for an eclectic mix of mostly new releases and when he has studio guests, plays records and talks shit. More at