My all-time most fantastic concert experience was...

Well, there have been a bunch. I once handed my band’s demo tape to Joey Ramone and Frank Black before a show, as they were hanging out at the bar. They were both extremely cool and gracious.

I saw Booker T and the MG’s in DC once, when they had gotten everybody back together for a tour (except Al Jackson :(), and I listened with a huge thrill as Steve Cropper declaimed, “I remember the night me and Otis wrote this,” and then launching into a surprisingly heart-wrenching solo version of “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.”

I was part of a huge crowd in the mud and rain at an Atlanta outdoor venue that pressed against the stage when a nearly-unknown artist named Jeff Buckley very nearly caused a riot.

I’ve hung out with Michael and Margot Timmins from the Cowboy Junkies.

I smoked a doob with Philip “Fish” Fisher from Fishbone.

Lots of others, but probably my favorite “live music” experience took place a couple of years ago when my girlfriend and I took a road trip to Savannah, Georgia just before Christmas. We checked into our hotel, and the desk clerk just happened to mention that another hotel in town was hosting an annual two-night show by none other than Ellis Marsalis (Wynton and Branford’s daddy…and IMO a better musician than either.) Since that was the last night, and the first of two shows had already begun, we got dressed up and hustled over to the venue.

Now, the show was being held in a downstairs lounge, and the waiting area was the upstairs bar. So, we wandered in, bought a couple of tickets from the bartender, and settled in to wait. We had some dinner and a few drinks, and we were happily socializing with the other barflies while we waited.

A little while later, the bar manager walked in and spoke quietly to the bartender and walked back out. The bartender came over to us and regretfully explained that for one reason or another, the second show was vastly undersold and would be cancelled. They only sell 30-40 tickets per show for the venue, so “vastly undersold” presumably meant that we were sole purchasers of the tickets.

Yeah, we were disappointed. But the bartender was very apologetic, refunded our ticket money, and just because he could, he comped all our food and drinks for the evening as well.

So that would have been a very nice, memorable evening if it had simply ended there.

However, as we were walking out, the manager scurried up to us and told us that Ellis Marsalis had heard that a few tickets had been sold for the final show and decided that as long as one person had paid to see him and his band, then by God they would play.

Sweet! I immediately went for my wallet to cheerfully re-purchase our tickets. “No need,” the manager explained. “It’s on the house, with our compliments.”

He then personally led us downstairs, led us to the table immediately adjacent to the piano, which had been set with a candle, a fresh tablecloth, and a fresh round of drinks, and formally held the chair for my girlfriend. Before leaving, he called the waiter over to our table and told him to “provide these folks with whatever they need, on the house.”

A few minutes later, Ellis Marsalis and his band came out, and before playing, sat down at our table, introduced themselves, and chatted with us. His bass player (Ben something. He was probably a jazz legend himself, but I was too poleaxed to ask) was particularly gregarious. He sat there and cracked corny, flirty jokes at my girlfriend, while cutting exaggerated “don’t beat me up!” looks in my direction, then laughing uproariously.

I was thunderstruck. I’m sure I sat there with a dopey grin and not an intelligent thought the entire time. I mean, I LOVE jazz music. Here was my opportunity to talk to ELLIS FREAKING MARSALIS about Coltrane, and Bird, and Horace Silver, and Wes Montgomery, and Miles Davis, and Ella Fitzgerald. But I was too damned, well, happy to even worry about it.

The show was amazing, of course.

A couple other folks trickled in during the sets, but for all intents and purposes, Ellis Marsalis and his band played a whole show just for the two of us, with the waitstaff discreetly refilling our drinks and generally waiting on us hand and foot.

It was one of the few times I’ve ever been treated like, hell, I dunno, a VIP? A goddamned president? It was an amazing, incredible experience, and I was floating on Cloud 9 for days. :slight_smile:

How about you?

The Kansas concert in Birmingham AL, Thanksgiving weekend ca. 1980. I was 13 and I had never seen lasers and I honestly wanted to die just so that would be the last site I ever saw- it was freaking gorgeous (especially against the electric violin solo from Dust in the Wind). I’ve seen far more impressive things on stage since then, but nothing ever as moving and wondrous.

Buster Poindexter and his Banshees of Blues, with Ry Cooder on guitar and Joan Osborne as his opening act, at a local club here.

Live Aid. Three rows back center when Jimmy Page and Robert Plant came on. Same position when Mick Jagger ripped off Tina Turner’s leather skirt while performing “State Of Shock”

Eurythmics. Tower Theater in Philly. 1983. Dancing up on stage with Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox.

Thanks for the reminder. I saw this tour too (about 2 weeks before your show)
and I totally forgot about that “Dust” moment. Might be because I was sick as a dog that night but went anyway because I was taking a special lady to that show.

Well, it hasn’t been yet, but my all-time most fantastic concert experience will be Tears For Fears, Atlantic City, October 29th. How do I know this?

It’s not because they’re my favorite band.
It’s not because Roland and Curt are back together, which I thought would never happen.
It’s not because I thought I’d never get to see TFF live, but now I get the chance.
It’s not because I’m going with my best friend, a fellow TFF fan, and we get the weekend together in AC.
It’s not because we have tickets in the 15th row, aisle seats in the center section.

It’s because it will be the first actual concert I’ve ever seen. Woo hoo!

Wow Ogre, I don’t know if I’ll ever have an experience like the one you described, but the most fantastic concert I’ve been to was The Who, 2002*, Dallas TX. John Entwistle had unfortunately just died so Pete and Roger were the only original members there, but the show rocked. The crowd was a bunch of white North Texas yuppies, but The Who got the whole place hopping almost immediately. True masters of stadium rock they are.

*Yeah, I’m a youngin’.

I love telling this story…

Dave Matthews Band, June 11, 2001, East Rutherford – Giant’s Stadium.

Giant’s Stadium is a great venue to see a concert. The stage is setup at the west end of the field so, before the show, you’re usually treated to a beautiful sunset. And, if you’re not so far up that the audio doesn’t sync-up with the video on the monitors, it’s fairly easy to enjoy the band.

Now, before I left for East Rutherford I checked the weather. It was calling for rain, but even though it was an outdoor venue I wasn’t about to stay home; I just brought a change of clothes and zip-loc bags for my cell phone and wallet. So, about half way through the concert we can see the lightning in the distance. And because we’re facing west, all though the rest of the show we can see it getting closer and closer. The last song or two is punctuated with bright flashes from the sky and loud thunder claps. With each one the crowd goes crazy. This is getting good: good music, some nice ambiance from Mother Nature, and a high-energy audience. But then…the encore. The band returns to the stage, the storm is right on top of us, everyone is screaming. They start playing and the song is Two Step. Another flash of lightning and this time the thunder follows immediately. There’s a break in the lyrics and Dave proclaims, “Let it rain!”

You know what happens.

No sooner do the words roar from the public address system than the sky opens up. Rain pours down in sheets and the crowd absolutely loses it. The roar from the screaming fans handily overpowers the music, and with each flash of lighting surges even louder. There was so much water that the staircases turn into waterfalls. People in the front row of the section are standing in six inches of water as the drainage system finds itself on the loosing side of the battle. The storm reaches its peak towards the end of the song. I’m hoarse from several full minutes of yelling and as wet as if I had just climbed out of a pool, and the rain is still relentless.

The song must be over because the band members are waving and leaving the stage. I know it’s over when the house lights come up and, as if a crew member flipped a switch backstage, the rain stops. Completely. My buddy and I walk back to the cars with gigantic smiles.

And, to top if off, that was the night my best friend got back together with the woman he is going to marry in a couple of weeks.

Whenever I tell anyone about this I say that it was a religious experience, with no hint of hyperbole.

I saw Bruce Springsteen in his 2000 tour (in Hartford, CT).

There are truly few bands I can imagine who could get and keep such a large crowd enthralled by the energy and sincerity of the music. Best three hour musical experience of my life.

Way too many concerts to say what was memorable so I’ll hit 2 of my best memories.

1988 - Odd Rock Cafe on KK in Milwaukee.

Krangkorr opened for GWAR. (Can’t remember their names) Singer for Krangkorr (awesome cover of Turning Japanese) and the drummer for GWAR bought a shot for me and my friend. (we were 15)

1989 - Alpine Valley Ampitheater, East Troy, WI.

Scored these from a friend of mom’s. Grateful Dead, 7th row, barely off-center. First acid trip and enhanced by half-pint of tequila.

Good times.

My all-time most fantastic concert experience?

Watching my daughter play Carnegie Hall last month. Hands down.

INXS Listen Like Thieves Tour (1985?), Merriweather Post Pavillion. Much rain, much mud, much fun!

Paul McCartney at the Skydome, Toronto, on the “Flowers In The Dirt” tour, 1989. The last time he made a great album, and the last time he had a magnificent band, and the first time he played Canada since coming to terms with his past; he incorporated Beatles songs in his set, some of which had never been played live before. This went beyond concert into the realm of cultural event. People cried, it was that emotional.

King Crimson at Massey Hall, Toronto, 1981 on the “Discipline” tour was probably the most masterful execution of music that I may ever witness.

Queen - Wimbley - 1986. Need I say more?

Well, okay, I was on a London trip with a High School group. I snuck away, used all my spending money some scalped tickets, and watched the best concert of my life.

For some reason, I wasn’t allowed out of arms reach of a chaperone for the rest of the trip.

All but of handful of the concert performances I’ve attended have been of the classical variety – symphony, opera, musicals, “marching” band, etc. Two notable exceptions include:

Crowded House at Deep Ellum Live in Dallas (1992)


Weird Al Yankovic and His Stupid Band at Fort Bliss, Texas (1985)

Well, as for CONCERT I’d go with Queen 1982 simply because it was my first and it was overwhelming. Only time I got to see them.


My magazine was hosting a party at a nightclub and I was organizing some of it. We had Bruce Hornsby and Steve Cropper as the entertainment. I don’t have much to say about Hornsby except that the guy is HUGE. But Cropper and I had about 1/2 hour to speak privately. I told him I was a guitar player and going into the studio and he gave me much encouragement and some tips about recording. Nice guy.

Fred LeBlanc, from Cowboy Mouth using me as a stepstool when he came into the crowd in 1998 at the Niteclub 9:30.

Joey Ramone borrowing a quarter from me to play a videogame at the Bayou in DC. I was filling in as a bouncer and it was pre-show.

Local heroine Mary Prankster playing a 6:30AM gig near my office. I was one of 5 people there and when she finished her set we had a chance to just hang out. Made me late for work and she wrote me a really nice excuse for my boss. I later had her out to play two gigs at my house for parties.

When I was 19, some concert came along called WOMAD or somesuch. The headliner was Peter Gabriel, and The Stereo MC’s and Lenny Kravitz were openers. I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with that lineup, but as Peter Gabriel took the stage I heard an unmistakably beautiful voice coming from somewhere. It was Sinead O’Connor. Somehow I had gotten up to the front section, so I got a perfect view of her. It was amazing.

And one Lollapallooza, the Beastie Boys played. I had taken my younger brother with me, it was one of his first concerts. It was really memorable watching him bounce up and down while they played. He had so much fun. I was glad I could introduce him to that.

Pink Floyd, 1994, RFK Stadium (Washington DC). Division Bell tour, all the original members, fucking awesome!

I also really enjoyed the several times I saw Neil Young

You mean, aside from Roger? Surely he wasn’t there.

I’ve been fortunate to have many great concert experiences. A smattering of the best, probably not in order:

  1. U2 at Murphy Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on the Joshua Tree tour in 1988, the night before they came to Memphis and recorded at Sun Studios for Rattle and Hum. I was 17, at the height of my U2 fandom, and they brought the house down. They shouldn’t even perform “Where the Streets Have No Name” if it’s not the opener. They did “One Tree Hill”, which is a rarity. They closed with “40”, and the audience stayed for a half hour singing “How long…?” Right band at the right time in the right frame of mind.

  2. Sonic Youth at Barristers while they were in Memphis recording Washing Machine. I sat with my feet up on Thurston Moore’s monitor.

2a) Pavement at Barrister’s in Memphis. They were recording “Wowee Zowie”. Barristers held about 200 people, tops. It was brilliant.

  1. Radiohead, St. Louis 2003. I had tried twice to see them, driving to Washington DC only to be thwarted by a huge rainstorm. Brilliant show. One of the best live acts touring today.

  2. The Oblivans reunion show, Hi Tone Cafe, Memphis, Halloween 2003. I’m friends with them–my old band used to play with them back in the day. It was great to hear all of those old songs. I lost my voice hollering during “Vietnam War Blues.” There were lots of out-of-towners in the audience, including The Detroit Cobras, a couple of The Hives, and a bunch of other garage rock luminaires. Jack White was also rumored to be in attendance, but I didn’t see him. Blew the fucking roof off.

  3. The Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Barristers, 1994. Not many people have heard of this band, but this show has stuck with me for ten years. It was like seeing the Talking Heads perform at CBGB’s. They did an hour-long oncore of Enrico Marconi spaghetti western soundtrack snippets. Unbelievable musical skill.

  4. Elvis Costello, Hi Tone Cafe, 2004. It was supposed to be a low-key, small-club show done to shake down some new songs. It turned into a circus. People were packed in there like sardines. He did “Watching the Detecitves”

I had thought about starting a thread like this just to mention my experience. I hesitated because I didn’t think I could do it justice.

There is a bar/resturant in New Brunswick NJ called the Old Bay. They have New Orleans cuisine and blues and R&B after 10. This is not a big place and not configured very well for music but they have good bands pretty often. I heard that Johnny Copeland was having an album release party there and I knew I had to go. (Amazon link, not asking you to buy just a reference in case you never heard of him). Me and the wife (we weren’t married yet) didn’t normally go out during the week but I told her to get a baby sitter. I owned a few of his albums but the only time I had seen him live was when he joined Stevie Ray on stage once. Before the show I found out a few things. For some reason this Texas Blues legend had been living in Central New Jersey for a few years. I also found out he was very sick and was in need of a heart transplant.

When we got to the bar we found out the opening act would be Johnny’s daughter Shemekah Copeland . She was about 18 at the time but was supposed to have an album coming out. When she got on stage we were blown away. She has an unbelivable voice. It was a great start to the night.

Johnny came out and was looking very frail. The old fire was still there but the energy wasn’t. If you have ever heard him you know what a powerful growl he had when he sang. The voice was still there but the power was dimmed. He had to sit on a stool through the set and not strut around the stage but he was still great.

The part that chokes me up even now happened at the end of the set. Johnny was singing a slow blues tune when his energy just gave out. He stopped in the middle of the lyric and slumped a little. The band kept playing. Shemekah came out of the audiance, picked up her mic and sang the rest of the song to her father. There were tears rolling down their cheeks. I don’t think there were too many dry eyes in the place. If I remember correctly she went on to finish the set with her father on guitar.

Afterwards I made sure to buy a tshirt and had the oppurtunity to shake the hand of a blues legend.

It was his last performance. He did get the transplant but died during a following surgery.