Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Best in Show

I enjoy music. And I really enjoy live music.

There is just something about the raw power and energy of concerts that makes the experience special. I can look back with pleasure on many shows that brought me joy.

I’ve seen classic rock acts like The Who, Rush, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Jethro Tull, and Pink Floyd.

For my 80s pop fix, artists such as Sting, Paul Young, .38 Special, INXS, and Huey Lewis and the News made me shake my thing. In parachute pants, of course.

Pure rock bands have included Aerosmith, Kiss, and Van Halen, and I certainly saw my share of hair metal concerts with Mötley Crüe, Slaughter, Firehouse, Lynch Mob, Steelheart, and Tesla.

Other shows have included Cake, Moby, and Foo Fighters—and the best live acoustic performer I have ever seen, Steve Hackett.

What is the best show you have been to? It seems like an easy question, and for most people a clear winner emerges.

Not for me. Each was unique; each had something memorable. Not a few even had something quite awful. But I have some pleasant memories from them all, and a healthy chunk of them were so good that I’m building a time machine to go back and see them again.

Can I name the worst? Absolutely: Barry Manilow. I still do not understand my mother’s logic in thinking that it would be good to take her eight-year-old son to that show. It’s a miracle that I wasn’t turned away from live music for the rest of my life.

Somehow I recovered. And I am thankful, because I have led a relatively normal musical life with positive concert experiences and a hunger for more.

Lately, however, few shows here in the DC area have drawn me in.

Sure, Bon Jovi is coming up … but I saw Bon Jovi a few years back—and I left the stadium after only a few songs. It wasn’t just that I don’t like Bon Jovi that much (which is true). No, I bailed mostly because the concert provided direct evidence that some bands are past their touring prime and better left alone.

Don’t get me wrong. There are scores of bands that I would love to see live, and many of them I probably will. I’m thinking here of groups like Dream Theater, Finger Eleven, Queens of the Stone Age, and Velvet Revolver.

But others I only want to see in their prime—not as they are now. I’ve had the opportunity to see the Rolling Stones on tour, for example. I passed—I don’t want to see men older than my parents strutting around with instruments, no matter how legendary they are.

So I will continue to enjoy my CDs by artists ranging from AC/DC to Yes. From Iron Maiden to Prince. Metallica to U2.

Yes, I will continue to listen to The Doors (with Jim Morrison, not Ian Astbury) and Queen (with Freddie Mercury, not Paul Rodgers).

And I will continue to wish I could see them all live—in the 70s or 80s, when they were excellent … when I was either too young or too unborn to know it.

But I will not see them now.

At least until I have finished that time machine.


At January 25, 2006 7:18 AM, Blogger :P fuzzbox replied to my musings ...

Just a word to the wise. Queens of the Stone Age live sound like a band where everyone soloes at the same time. Although Metallica has to be one of my all time favorites to see live, I cannot dismiss the on stage theatrics of Marilyn Manson. I also think that music is best live and have been hooked since my first concert when as a freshmen in high school, I witnessed Kiss in their make-up clad glory of the late 70's and last week I was able to catch the up and coming band Shinedown along with Seether. Sometimes I feel like the crazy old guy at the concert. But as Grampa Rock says, 'Meet you in the pit candy ass.

At January 25, 2006 11:20 AM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

Billy Joel and Elton John - that was an unbelievable concert.

When you finish the time machine, I'd like to borrow it and see if I can get Vinitiari to miss that 48 yard field goal in Super Bowl 36.

At January 25, 2006 11:47 AM, Blogger Ben Heller replied to my musings ...

It's so hard to pick favourite live acts, cause I go to a concert every week (two at the most). I've seen some good, some great, and a lot of poop.

As an event -

Madonna - Blonde Ambition

Best -

Muse (I had mixed feelings when I got the ticket, but they just blew me away)

At January 25, 2006 1:34 PM, Blogger BuffyICS replied to my musings ...

You gotta see Pearl Jam in concert--awesome. Eddie Vedder is so funny and it's fun to watch Mike McCready jump around all over the place.

Then again, nothing beats the free, impromptu concerts that John Mellencamp used to put on in the middle of campus when I was a student at Indiana University. He's great live. I also think you should reconsider your position on Rolling Stones--they're amazing still.

At January 25, 2006 4:04 PM, Blogger Metal Mark replied to my musings ...

I saw Testement, Megadeth and Judas Priest in 1990 in DC. Megadeth were the best opener I have ever seen and Judas Priest are far and away the best band I have seen live. Rob Halford was incredible as you could seen the veins popping out on his neck as he sang and they pulled out a lot of their late 70's songs and played like half of British Steel. They were amazing.

At January 25, 2006 4:44 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

Best: King's X/Joe Satriani/Dream Theater in Cleveland 9/3/02. 4th row center!

honourable mention: Pat Dailey live at the Beer Barrel Saloon, July 2000 Put-In-Bay, OH. standing room only. Pat Dailey is the Great Lakes answer to Jimmy Buffet. Dailey's material has a very regional flavor and he's a bit more crass than his blonder Floridian counterpart... How can you not love a song that goes, "Welcome everybody to my place, you can pull up a chair, or just pull up a face, we've got all we need, the only thing that we lack, is a rich dumb young nymphomaniac"?

Worst: Franki Valli and the 4 Seasons; Canandaigua, NY 1986. I don't know what my sister was thinking!

At January 25, 2006 8:10 PM, Blogger siren replied to my musings ...

Hmmm...I'd have to say the best show I've seen live is Nickel Creek; they're really talented musicians. Now everybody knows what a helpless dork I am :)

At January 26, 2006 1:21 AM, Blogger Bruce replied to my musings ...

Kiss always put on a great live show, but the best one I ever saw was Yes, back in '78, I think it was. Alan White had replaced Rick Wakeman by then, but the show itself was amazing. The worst I ever saw was The Guess Who. Burton Cummings pretty much sleepwalked through the whole show. The highlight of the evening was seeing Wolfman Jack in person. I've always regretted the fact that I never got to see Rush or Stevie Ray Vaughan live, although I did have the distinct pleasure of seeing Clapton in person, just three weeks before SRV died.

At January 26, 2006 7:30 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Fuzz: I think I'll still take my chances with QOTSA. Maybe just a bad night?

Phoenix: Well, I'll just go back in time and get him to make it. (This is starting to feel like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, isn't it?)

Ben: I just got the most recent Muse album late last year and should have added them to my want-to-see list.

Buffy: PJ is one the those groups I would want to see THEN, not NOW. Perhaps I'll set the time machine to sometime in 1991.

Mark: I was going to the reunited tour last year here in DC ... except that my buddy who was getting tix flaked, didn't and made other plans. Ass.

Perplexio: At least you didn't see the ill-conceived King's X/Frankie Valli joint tour.

Siren: I wouldn't say you are a helpless dork. (You already did it for me.)

Bruce: Rush will probably put another album out this year, so you may get a chance yet!

Any good tours coming up this year that I don't want to miss?

-- david

At January 26, 2006 8:45 AM, Blogger Ben Heller replied to my musings ...

The Strokes are touring (if you like that sort of thing). I'm seeing them in a couple of weeks. They owe us a good show because last time they stank badly.

At January 26, 2006 9:09 AM, Blogger honkeie2 replied to my musings ...

Yes some ppl were only worth seeing in their prime. I have seen ozzy numerous times and from old videos I have seen, he was really worth the wait back in the day. But his first 2 ozzfest were the best I have ever seen him. Old 80's rock concerts were the best, the ones now seem to fall a little flat, even rob zombie's stage antics have dropped.
But I to love all kinds of music, but no country, or ghetto rap for me lol

At January 26, 2006 11:05 AM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...


I thought Alan White was a drummer. Thus he would have replaced Bill Bruford, not Rick Wakeman, methinks.

I would have loved to have seen Yes on the 1980 tour with Geoff Downes on keyboards and Trevor Horn on vocals. I believe I'm in the minority in that my favorite Yes album is Drama.

At January 26, 2006 1:46 PM, Blogger Bruce replied to my musings ...

David, I heard about that. I can only hope... Queensryche is another band I've always wanted to see live, but haven't. With the April release of Operation: Mindcrime II, I'm hoping I get the chance this time.'re right. It was Patrick Moraz on keyboards when I saw them. Thanks for pointing out my error.

At January 26, 2006 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

Ben: I heard that the Strokes were awful in concert on their last tour. I'll pass.

Honk: We can easily agree on the 80s shows kicking ass. Thanks for coming by--you'll find some of my odes to 80s music in the archives.

Perpelxio: Drama's "Tempus Fugit" has always been one of my favorite Yes tracks, even if any Yes song without Jon Anderson or Steve Howe just sounds off to me.

Bruce: Pulling off a concept album ain't easy, and The Ryche did it pretty well. But pulling off a sequel to a concept album is an almost insurmountabel challenge--I fear this release.

When my invention is up and running, the artists I'll see first in their prime probably are Genesis in '73, Van Halen in '78, Maiden in '84, and Hendrix anytime.

-- david

At January 27, 2006 4:28 AM, Blogger Laurie replied to my musings ...

I've been lucky enough to see both Dream Theatre and Queensryche in concert :-)

Ben - I totally agree with you about Madonna's Blonde Ambition tour, it ranks up there among my all-time best concert experiences.

You really saw Manilow, eh? LOL

At January 27, 2006 8:16 AM, Blogger Nerdine replied to my musings ...

Hey - Thanks for stopping by my blog!
I have difficulties to pick just one concert too, although I went to REM this summer that was pretty amazing - also because it featured my absolute favorite Norwegian band before the REM concert. The worst concert, though is not hard at all. It was Little Feat. It was just noisy with too many people on stage who thought they could play some obscure instrument. I was VERY happy when it was over.

At January 27, 2006 10:40 AM, Blogger Jamie Dawn replied to my musings ...

My husband was out of town for a couple of weeks this past summer, and my kids and I went to see .38 Special. We really enjoyed the show. We also really enjoyed people watching while we were there. What fun it was

I have not seen many big named bands live. We listen to a variety of music around our house: Queen (with Freddie, of course), Kansas, Arrowsmith, Van Halen, Lynrd Skynrd, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble... quite a mix.

Live performances are fun for the excitement of the experience. Bands rarely sound as good live as they do in the studio recordings. Some can't pull the stuff off live.

I wouldn't want to see Rolling Stones now either.

At January 27, 2006 11:23 AM, Blogger cube replied to my musings ...

Barry Manilow! It's a wonder you weren't scarred for life. But wait, you are scarred for life...

Just kidding. But Manilow...that is rough.

At January 27, 2006 12:07 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

David-- The Drama album does have Steve Howe on it. While I don't mind Jon Anderson's voice, much like Geddy Lee-- a little goes a long way. When it comes to Rush and Jon Anderson Yes, I have trouble listening to whole albums because it's just too much of those high tenor voices. I can listen to all of the songs on individual Yes and Rush albums but I have to listen to them sparingly so as not to get overloaded.

That's part of the reason why I like Drama so much. I find Horn's voice much more tolerable over the course of the album.

At January 27, 2006 1:23 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Laurie: You've seen some kick-ass shows--but I still have you beat on the Copacabana side of things.

Nerdine: Little Feat. Hmmmm ... that's a band I wouldn't go to in the first place, and now I have another reason why.

Jamie: I recall the .38 Special show (sometime in the mid-80s) was quite good--what sticks in my mind is that the band remains the only one I have seen live with TWO drummers.

Cube: The scars run deep. But I can win trivia contest about bad music as well as the good.

Perplexio: That makes sense--that's probably why I enjoy Drama so much! I don't dislike Trevor Horn's voice, but I do find him lacking passion. Which, for most Yes music, is not too tragic.

I just saw that Donald Fagen of Steely Dan is going on his first-ever solo tour and will be in my area in March. I'm tempted, but methinks I'll skip it. The Dan is another group I'll need a 30-year jump back to truly enjoy live.

-- david

At January 27, 2006 2:19 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

David-- when it comes to classic prog rok vocalists, I actually prefer John Wetton and Greg Lake. For neo-prog I like Fish (aka Derek Dick, ex-Marillion), Neal Morse (ex-Spock's Beard), James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree), and the late Kevin Gilbert (Toy Matinee, and he was ALMOST Phil Collins replacement in Genesis).

At January 27, 2006 2:37 PM, Blogger BrianAlt replied to my musings ...

Worst band I ever saw in concert was Night Ranger. I went to see Starship, bad enough in itself, but I went to see Grace Slick sing White Rabbit. I figured seeing that was worth the entire price of the ticket. Starship opened for Night Ranger. Supposedly it was a co-billing, but it turned out that Starship was really opening. I learned that night that there's no such thing as a co-billing.

My friend came along for the same reason, to see Grace Slick. We'd have to do without Kantner, of course.

Well the thousands of other people there were apparently coming to see Night Ranger. When Starship took the stage, no one seemed to care, except of course for my friend and me. When we jumped up to celebrate White Rabbit we were met with, "sit down, sit down!" When Night Ranger hit the stage, the place ERUPTED! Very sad, very, very sad...

So this was the worst concert I've ever been to.

At January 27, 2006 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

Best shows ever

Oingo Boingo Halloween Concerts at the Irvine Meadows Ampetheater

At January 27, 2006 3:11 PM, Blogger The Village Idiot replied to my musings ...

That above comment about Boingo would have come from me....

At January 27, 2006 4:01 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

I once saw Survivor/Little River Band/Chicago live in concert one night.

Survivor was downright embarrassing.

Little River Band is a guilty pleasure of mine, they were good but, still kind of sad considering there were/are no original members in the current incarnation of the band and the original members of the band are forced to tour using the monikier "Birtles, Goble, Shorrock" (their last names).

Chicago was good, but their set was too short.

At January 27, 2006 4:26 PM, Blogger KristieD replied to my musings ...

I love seeing Sevendust. I have seen them 5 times so far (twice at ozfest, once at Earthday Birthday (in orlando), and twice by themselves-one of which was a new years eve show)...It was great. Altho, a Tool was pretty good live too. The 1st time i saw them was at Ozfest 98, then by themselves a few years later (but we had CRAPPY seats, so that part sucked)

Been to alot of good shows. LIve music just gets you going in a way that just listening to a cd is not capable of.

At January 27, 2006 5:30 PM, Blogger Bruce replied to my musings ...

David....I've heard a couple of the songs from O:M II(from the band's site); one is ok, while the other one was pretty good. 'Course, they're both live performances, and may sound better in-studio. I'm actually looking forward to it, to be honest. I hope I'm not setting myself up for big disappointment.

At January 27, 2006 9:00 PM, Blogger kim replied to my musings ...

Best - man I dunno. Saw Phil Collins on a lark in college and it was actually really a fun show. Tori Amos and Ani diFranco are great live.

Worst - Catherine Wheel & Belly. I literally fell asleep in the third row.

Time machine - I would LOVE to go back in time to see Elvis and The Beatles and The Who.

At January 28, 2006 9:20 AM, Blogger Metal Mark replied to my musings ...

I never saw a headliner that I didn't like. The worst opening acts I ever saw were Life, Sex and death (that's one band under that name), Kingdom Come and Death by stereo. Death by stereo was the only band I saw where people were yelling for them to get off the stage.

If I had a time machine then I would want to go see Led Zeppelin in 1970, Black Sabbath in 1971, Alice Cooper in 1972, Rush in 1976, Thin Lizzy in 1977, AC/DC in 1979, Motorhead in 1980, Van Halen in 1981, Iron Maiden in 1983, Dio in 1984, Slayer in 1986, Kreator in 1988, WASP in 1989 and Dream Theater in 1992. That would certainly put some wear and tear on the machine.

At January 28, 2006 12:32 PM, Blogger KC replied to my musings ...

Best experience at a concert: standing on my seat the entire evening for Elvis in 1972. Yes, I was a child then.

Favorite concert lately: Raul Malo at the Duck Room in St. Louis. Intimate atmosphere. Raul with an acoustic guitar and Robert Chevrier on piano. The small set-up really enhanced the wonder of his voice. Got to meet him afterwards, also, when he sang in the piano bar at his hotel. He invited The Duck Room audience to come back to his hotel. So we did.

At January 28, 2006 1:34 PM, Blogger Bruce replied to my musings ...

I saw BTO on their "Not Fragile" tour in '74, and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Randy Bachman and Fred Turner were kicking ass all night long. Then, about 15-16 years ago, I saw them again in a little hole-in-the-wall club in the town where my brother lives. By this time, Randy Bachman was the only original member still in the band, but I will say this; it was one of the best times I've had watching a band play. We were literally feet from the tiny stage, and at one point, during "Taking Care of Business", Bachman reached over and high-fived my brother. Sometimes, it's the small things that you remember most, ya know?

At January 30, 2006 3:16 PM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen replied to my musings ...

You've seen Peter Gabriel???

I am SO DAMN JEALOUS......;)

At January 30, 2006 10:35 PM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

Peter Gabriel was touring just last year. The show was incredible. I saw David Byrne on Miami Beach during his "Rei Momo" tour. It was at the Cameo, an old art-deco theater. The a/c broke and it was the middle of summer. It must have been 110 degrees in that theater, but the heat actually accentuated the latin flavor of the music. That was the best concert I've ever been to.

The worst show I ever saw was "The Go-Gos" with "A Flock of Seagulls" as the opening act. I left wondering if any of the musicians I had just scene had been playing for more then a few months.

At January 31, 2006 9:48 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Peter Gabriel is one of the best live performers I have seen. His live version of "San Jacinto"--sadly dropped from the most recent tour but kept in shows right up through the "Secret World" tour--brought me to tears.

-- david

At January 31, 2006 11:04 AM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

"San Jacinto" is a beautiful song. It crosses all boundaries between art, music, and politics.

At January 31, 2006 3:12 PM, Blogger Sar replied to my musings ...

When did you steal my CD collection! Great list of concerts & music. Best show I saw was Don Henley. Yeah, I know, but he was sensational. Dirty Laundry was great. Annie Lennox was great, but then so was Queensryche and Whitesnake back in the day. *sigh feeling nostalgic*

I must remember to visit here more often. To the blogroll you go, David!

At February 01, 2006 7:43 AM, Blogger Mone replied to my musings ...

Maybe the Rolling Stones are the ones who didnt age?
Love your blog.

At February 01, 2006 10:46 AM, Blogger FredCQ replied to my musings ...

I saw Steve Hackett perform a solo aucoustic set at a Border Books in Philly a few years ago. Amazing! He played some old Genesis stuff and some solo stuff as well. There was a big crowd there for guy who I though was virtually unknown.

I love to see bands in small clubs. The best show that I have ever seen was Voivod with Soundgarded and Faith No More opening up. I paid $8 and it was incredible.

At February 02, 2006 10:30 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Godwhacker, Fred: I love your taste in music. The Hackett and Gabriel shows are at the top of my best ever list. Hackett seems to have a small but loyal following--everyone I know who has given him a listen has fallen under his spell.

Sar, Mone: Thanks for the kind words. I hope you like the other posts as well ... I've chekced out your sites, too, and I'll be back soon.

-- david

At February 06, 2006 11:29 AM, Blogger FredCQ replied to my musings ...

There is a band called the Musical Box that does really good Genesis tribute show. I recently saw them perform the WHOLE Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album. They had the original costumes and stage props that Genesis used in the 70s. It was such a great show. You should check it out if they come by your town.


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