Granted, most of the shows were of established-to-old bands, but frankly there haven't been to many new bands that have caught my fancy enough to get me out to see them (I missed Chvrches by a year, and will probably have to wait until the new album at this point).
To a one, I can't think of a show that I didn't leave completely and thoroughly entertained by and satisfied with. The Decemberists in Richmond, VA were spot-on as always, with their show closing rendition of The Tain aptly demonstrating not only their sterling musicianship, but the work it takes to pull off this 22 minute song live as well as their willingness to do so.
(Please note, none of the following videos were actually recorded by me. Thanks to the internet, I can enjoy the show and leave others to the chronicling.)
Depeche Mode in DC were stellar. At this point, it would be easy for them to just play a couple of songs off the new album and stick to the familiar hits (a tactic I'm sure many fans would not have a problem with). Instead, they focused squarely on material from the 1990s onward, and made it clear they were touring the new album, as opposed to using the album as an excuse to tour. Their form was perfect, their sound was great, and Dave Gahan moved around more on stage that one night than I do in a normal week.
Speaking of DC, let's not forget Morrissey, not least of all because he actually showed up. Considering that he canceled all the shows on the tour afterward, it was a lucky thing indeed. Perhaps the Der Spiegel controversy had made him circumspect, or perhaps the signs on the door stating the show was being recorded meant I'll have a chance to see the show again on DVD at some point, but Moz was not only on his best behavior (no rants, no Meat is Murder to kill the mood), but he and the band put on one of the best performances I've seen from them (and this would be the fifth time I've caught him). As I treat every Morrissey concert as if it's his last, this would be a fitting note to go out on.
Also in DC, Gary Numan proves to not only refuse to give in to nostalgia, but delivers to a degree that artists half his age aspire to. As with Depeche Mode (and Morrissey, for that matter) he was definitely touring the new album, but made sure to sprinkle in enough classic tracks to keep the fans happy. And he fucking rocked. Personal note: While eating dinner before the show, the friend I went to the show with asked what song I wanted to hear. Grasping, I said "I Die: You Die," from the Telekon album. Not a huge hit, but a personal favorite. So, the show happens, Gary does the main set, then an encore, then comes back out for another encore. On the screen behind him comes the familiar red bands on black motif from the Telekon cover, and within a few notes I realize he's closing the show with my song. Whether it was fate or chance, I'll never know, but it was a great note to end the year's concerts on.
Slowdive and Ride were back after decades-long hiatuses, and performed like they'd never stopped. The Slowdive show in particular was perfection, and meeting Rachel Goswell after the show was a nice touch. AFI offered a nice return to my punk roots, and proved to be just as good as they'd been fifteen years ago when I saw them last (although I missed a lot of that show due to the terrible decision to go into the pit - this time I wisely stuck to the balcony). That show also introduced me to Nothing, who sounded like they stepped right out of the '90s.
Also on the punk note, caught the Damned on their 40th anniversary tour, and even though they're a little slower than in years prior (I could actually understand what Dave Vanian was singing), they still had that fire and wit of decades past. And they even played that song from the Young Ones.
And, of course, U2 had their Joshua Tree tour. Now here's a band not touring on a new album - in fact, one released thirty years prior - but who sounded as fresh and engaged as if it had just come out. I went in somewhat interested in the band, and with the first drum measure of opening song "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was a converted fan. Well played, boys. (It helped that the rest of the show was amazing, and it was great to see a band who knew how to play a stadium and make it feel just as good as a small venue).
Of course there were plenty of shows I didn't make it to (Jesus and Mary Chain, the barely-advertised Specials reunion tour, Kool Keith), but I can't complain. Here's looking to next year.