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.