Christine and the Queens | photo by Taylor Johnson for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2018 incredible. Today, XPN midday host Helen Leicht recaps her favorite Free at Noon moments from 2018.

It’s been another year of the Free at Noon concert series, and we have brought in new artists as well as ones you have loved for many years.

What are my favorite Free at Noon concerts? Well, that’s a very difficult question to ask the person who stands watching the shows from side stage area.

I’d say that standing to the side of the stage watching Jade Bird (in a May NonComm doubleheader)  was a very cool experience. Jade has an amazing voice AND watching her sing “The Lottery” with Brandi Carlile (standing next to me!!!!) will always be a special memory. In fact, Brandi picked up her daughter Evangeline and they watched Jade; she agreed this young woman can sing. Did I mention Brandi has been nominated for six Grammy awards for By the Way, I Forgive You. She knows what she’s talking about. 😉

Jade Bird | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN |

Caroline Rose joined us in April for FAN to celebrate her new Loner CD. We were playing the song “Soul No.5” so I was looking forward to her show. I had NO idea how much I would enjoy her performance, and she won over the audience from the beginning of her set. Tons of energy and our members loved her.

In February, the Philly band Hardwork Movement joined us to kick off the weekend and immediately singer Jeremy Keys was on my list for Home for the Holidays 2018. I loved his singing, his energy, and appreciation for the opportunity to showcase their songs. It’s always a great feeling when one of our local bands are part of Free at Noon concerts.

Hardwork Movement | photo by Ashley Gellman-LaLima for WXPN

I was on vacation when Richard Thompson stopped by for a September FAN. The perfect opportunity to watch the webcast via VuHaus… And as always Richard Thompson doesn’t disappoint the sold out crowd. He played songs from his new album 13 Rivers BUT he knew they wanted to hear “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.” I wasn’t in the venue, but I felt the energy and heard the cheers from the long time fans of his music.

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My #1 Free at Noon was a new artist that I had just seen on Stephen Colbert in October, Christine and the Queens. I was excited for our members to see this particular FAN because I knew she was bringing dancers! It was a unique concert and I hope we do more like it. In the audience were mothers with their little girls. After the show I asked If the children took dance lessons and they all nodded yes. This was special for me, because our daughter Rachael also took dance lessons and I definitely would have brought her to this show. It’s why I support XPN. Giving so many wonderful artists an opportunity to follow their dreams!