Hercules and Love Affair’s Kim Ann Foxman (left), Andy Butler and Nomi Ruiz work it for the hyped-up crowd at the Opera House.
1 MY BLOODY VALENTINE
(Kool Haus, September 25)
Reunion concerts aren't supposed to be this good, and a 24-minute blast of white noise at jet engine volume should clear a room. But somehow the shoegazer gods beat the odds and blew our minds.
2 MULATU ASTATKE WITH THE EITHER/ORCHESTRA
(Harbourfront Centre, July 26)
Even if the forward-looking Mulatu Astatke had no interest in recreating the 1968 Swingin' Addis sound in 2008, it was still thrilling to hear him reinvent his classic songs with a full-blown orchestra of skilled jazz improvisers.
3 HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR
(Opera House, October 18)
The absence of vocalist Antony Hegarty couldn't put a damper on the sizzling and uplifting Toronto live debut of the hotly hyped NYC disco house revivalists.
4 FLATLANDERS with TOM RUSSELL
(Hugh's Room, November 10)
The long-overdue Toronto debut of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock and Joe Ely together as the Flatlanders lived up to the Lubbuck supergroup's legendary status, no doubt inspired in part by an exemplary opening set by crowd-pleasing songster Tom Russell.
5 BON IVER/BLACK MOUNTAIN
(Lee's Palace, March 5)
Steve McBean's massive, crunching guitar hot on the heels of Justin Vernon's hushed, plaintive crooning equals one singularly perfect night.
(Molson Amphitheatre, August 15)
A massive rainbow over Toronto was a fitting greeting for Radiohead, who rocked a sold-out crowd, treating fans to old favourites like Talk Show Host plus new standouts like Jigsaw Falling Into Place.
7 ROCK THE BELLS
(Arrow Hall, July 20)
Heads rejoiced to see Pharcyde & Atco reunited, Red and Meth, De La, Rakim, Nas and more. All hail Chang Weisberg. But can we get the Amphitheatre next year? (And a Canadian rap stage?)
8 NEIL YOUNG
(Air Canada Centre, December 4)
The legendary Canuck still sounds like he's traversing America for the first time. With his warbly vocals and youthful energy intact, this is one aging rocker worth the high ticket price.
(V-Fest, September 7)
This was Toronto live music's Mark David Chapman moment of 2008. A completely unforgettable show, for all the wrong reasons.
10 NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
(Air Canada Centre, September 19)
Amid the banshee screams of a sold-out, post-teenybopper crowd, the Kids put on a show so undeniably ridiculous and improbable that nodding along to Hangin' Tough just seemed like a really good idea. When in Rome, right?