Midlands Rocks Team: “The Best of 2022” – Albums, Gigs & more…



The Midlands Rocks team have once again rounded up their best albums and gigs of the year for your enjoyment. After taking tentative steps back to normality in 2021, 2022 has seen live music return with a bang and we have been out and about enjoying some amazing shows across the Midlands and occasionally further afield. If you see us at a gig be sure to come and say hello and tell us what you like about the site and what we could do better or what else you would like to see here at MR. Thanks, as always, to our amazing team of reviewers and to all of our readers; we’ll be back for more in 2023!

RICH WARD (Midlands Rocks Editor-In-Chief)

Artist of the Year
Saxon – The year started with them with big shows in London & Manchester, their best album in years (Carpe Diem), and a successful winter tour playing and selling out some magnificent venues

Midlands Artist of the Year

Magnum – A headline show at Symphony Hall, a solid new album and a celebratory 50th Anniversary tour to close the year.

Top 10 Albums

Saxon – Carpe Diem
Cardinal Black – January Came Close
Elles Bailey – Shining In The Half Light
Whiskey Myers – Tornillo
Tony Martin – Thorns
Bernie Marsden – Trios
Magnum – The Monster Roars
Jethro Tull – The Zealot Gene
Robert Jon & The Wreck – Shine A Light
Nazareth – Surviving The Law

Top 10 Gigs 

Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets – Birmingham Symphony Hall
Roger Daltrey – Birmingham Symphony Hall
Smith Kotzen – KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton
Saxon – London Hammersmith Apollo
Pearl Jam + stereophonics – Hyde Park, London
Uriah Heep –Birmingham Symphony Hall
Billy Idol – Cardiff Arena
Demon – Eleven, Stoke
Simple Minds – Audley End House, Saffron Walden
Magnum – KK’s Steel Mill, Wolvewrhampton

Breakthrough Artist 2023

Cardinal Black

PETER DENNIS (Editor – Album Reviews) 

Artist Of the Year

Burke Shelley (R.I.P.)

Midlands Artist Of The Year

Andy Sneap

Top 10 Albums

1. Black Sabbath – The Mob Rules (Deluxe Reissue)
2. King’s X – Three Sides Of One
3. Sigh – Shiki
4. Napalm Death – Resentment Is Always Seismic-A Final Throw Of Throes
5. BlackLab – In A Bizarre Dream
6. Optical Sun – Save Our Souls
7. Riot Act – Closer To The Flame
8. Bloodclot – Souls
9. Tony Martin – Thorns
10. BRIDEAR – Aegis Of Athena

Top Gigs

1. Saxon + Diamond Head + Untamed Silence @ De Montfort Hall, Leicester – 25th November 2022
2. Dongyang Gozupa @ Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry – 29th October 2022
3. Anthrax + Municipal Waste + Sworn Enemy @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – 27th September 2022
4.’s + The Masonics @ The Boileroom, Guildford – 24th April 2022
5. Napalm Death + Raging Speedhorn + Cage Fight + Casket Feeder @ Craufurd Arms, Wolverton – 26th March 2022

Breakthrough Artist 2023


DEAN PEDLEY (Editor – Live Reviews & Social Media) 

Artist of the Year

Midlands Artist of the Year

Top 10 Albums
Marillion – An Hour Before It’s Dark
Massive Wagons – Triggered
Amanda Shires – Take It Like A Man
Whiskey Myers – Tornillo
Kris Barras Band – Death Valley Paradise
Ugly Kid Joe – Rad Wings of Destiny
Skid Row – The Gang’s All Here
Magnum – The Monster Roars
Eddie Vedder – Earthling
Wet Leg – Wet Leg

Top 10 Gigs
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Manchester
Pearl Jam & Stereophonics – BST Hyde Park
Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets – Birmingham
Marillion – Victoria Hall, Hanley
Roger Daltrey – Birmingham
Ugly Kid Joe & Massive Wagons – KK’s Steel Mill
Skid Row – KK’s Steel Mill
Kris Barras Band – KK’s Steel Mill
Fairport Convention – Dudley
Magnum – Birmingham

Breakthrough Artist 2023
When Rivers Meet


Artist of the Year

Midlands Artist of the Year

Top 10 Albums
1. Drudkh – All Belong to the Night
2. Sigh – Shiki
3. Cult of Luna – The Long Road North
4. Oceans of Slumber – Starlight and Ash
5. Venom Prison – Erebos
6. Ghost – Impera
7. Goatwhore – Angels Hung from the Arches of Heaven
8. Elder – Innate Passage
9. Belphegor – The Devils
10. Darkthrone – Astral Fortress

Top Gigs
1. Damnation Fest – BEC Arena, Manchester
2. Bloodstock – Catton Park, Derbys
3. Desertfest – Camden, London
4. Mgla – Institute, Birmingham
5. Wardruna – Symphony Hall, Birmingham
6. Agnostic Front – Asylum, Birmingham
7. Trivax – Black Heart, London

Breakthrough Artist 2023


Artist of the Year – Danny Vaughn

Midlands Artist – Magnum

Top 10 Albums (in alphabetical order of artist)

Kickstart the Sun – Cats In Space
Envy of None – Envy of None
Thirteen – FM
Widdershins – Gandalf’s Fist
A Model Life – Lonely Robot
A Great Escape – Omega Point
Above Cirrus – Pure Reason Revolution
Digital Noise Alliance – Queensryche
Dopamine – Thunder
Red Alert In The Blue Forest – Von Hertzen Brothers

Top 10 Gigs (in Chronological order)

Solstice @ Fusion Festival, Stourport, 5/3/22
Magenta @ Fusion Festival, Stourport, 6/3/22
Ghost @ Resorts World Arena, Birmingham, 15/4/22
Pure Reason Revolution @ Earth Theatre, London, 17/4/22
Tool @ Resorts World Arena, Birmingham, 4/5/22
Empyre @ The Giffard, Wolverhampton, 18/6/22
Rammstein @ CBS Stadium, Coventry, 26/6/22
Cats In Space @ The Robin, Bilston, 29/9/22
Within Temptation @ Utilita Arena, Birmingham, 15/11/22
Danny Vaughn @ Local Authority, Sheffield 8/12/22

Breakthrough Artist 2023 – Blue Nation


Artist Of The Year

Lifesigns (Their 2022 shows were fabulous)

Midlands Artist Of The Year

Ozzy Osbourne (Back to his best with Patient #9)

Top 10 Albums (In no particular order)

Porcupine Tree – Closure/Continuation
Troy Redfern – The Wings Of Salvation
The Dowling Poole – Refuse
The Little Unsaid – Fable
Ozzy Osbourne – Patient #9
Brave Rival – Life’s Machine
Lonely Robot – A Model Life
Jethro Tull – The Zealot Gene
Muse – Will Of The People
Elles Bailey – Shining In The Half Light

Top 10 Gigs (In no particular order)

Lifesigns – Trading Boundries
The Little Unsaid – The Slaughtered Lamb
Porcupine Tree – Wembley Arena
Bob Dylan – New Theatre, Oxford
Marillion – Friars, Aylesbury
Gary Numan – Derngate, Northampton
Frank Carducci & The Fantastic Squad – The Black Heart, Camden
Roger Daltrey – London Palladium
Big Big Train – Friars, Aylesbury
Hardwicke Circus – The Petri Dish, Aylesbury

special mention also to
Howard Jones Trio – St. Albans Arena
That Joe Payne – 229 Venue
When Rivers Meet/Troy Redfern – The Garage
NMB – Shepherds Bush Empire
Frost*/Quantum Pig – Islington Assembly Hall
Brave Rival – The Blues Bar, Tring
Smith/Kotzen – Islington Assembly Hall
Thunder/Ugly Kid Joe/Kris Barras – Wembley Arena

It really has been a good year for live music fans.

Breakthrough Artist 2023

Brave Rival


Artist of the Year

Dead Cross

Top 10 Albums

Dead Cross II
Titan to Tachyons – Vocals
The Lovecraft Sextet – Miserere
High Castle Teleorkestra – The Egg That Never Hatched
Veldune – s/t
Hammers of Misfortune – Overtaker
Red Rot – Mal De Vivre
Imperial Triumphant – Spirit of Ecstasy
Midnight – Let There Be Witchery
Deathspell Omega – The Long Defeat

Best Gigs of 2022

Rosalie Cunningham @ The Giffard Arms, Wolverhampton – Friday 3 June 2022
Evile @ KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – Monday 21 February 2022
Melt Banana @ Hare & Hounds, Digbeth – Saturday 2 April 2022
Sepultura + Sacred Reich + Crowbar @ KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – Friday 4 November 2022

Gigs to look forward to in 2023

Girlschool @ Robin 2, Bilston – Friday 10 February 2023
Napalm Death @ Institute, Birmingham – Saturday 11 March 2023
Dead Kennedys @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Sunday 7 May 2023
Roger Waters @ Utilita Arena, Birmingham – Wednesday 31 May 2023


Artist of the Year

The Cure

Midlands Artist of the Year

Blue Ruth

Top 10 Albums

1) Aldous Harding – Warm Chris
2) Gilla Band – Most Normal
3) Ditz – The Great Regression
4) Otoboke Beaver – Super Champon
5) Tanya Tagaq – Tongues
6) Bunuel – Killers Like Us
7) Bjork – Fossora
8) Emma Ruth Rundle – Electric Guitar Two (Dowsing Voice)
9) Lambchop – The Bible
10) Bill Callahan – Reality

Top Gigs 

Given that I didn’t get to many gigs, most of these came from a festival. That counts, dammit!

1) The Cure (Utilita Arena, Birmingham)
2) The Damned (O2 Academy, Birmingham)
3) Supersonic Festival, Birmingham
4) The Lemonheads (Institute, Birmingam)
5) AA Williams (Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath)

Breakthrough Artist

I honestly can’t think of anyone that fits the precise criteria, so I’ll say Blue Ruth because they deserve more attention.