Your all-time best rock concerts

I’ve been to a billion concerts, so I’m having to make some tough decisions to limit it to five. Here goes:

5. Pearl Jam, Masonic Temple, Detroit, 1994. I won a special drawing (out of about 100,000 to 200,000 inquiries for tickets) to be one of only about 2,000 people at this show. The band’s second album had just came out, and they were at the top of their game. Played for like 3.5 hours, did three or four encores, until they were doing cover tunes. Fantastic time for the (not yet) wife and me, both huge fans of the band, particularly their first two albums.

4. REO Speedwagon, Castle Farms, Charlevoix, Michigan, 1981. This was my second concert ever. I was only 14. REO was the top band around at the time, their “Hi Infidelity” album topped the charts. Loved the band, the album, all the songs on it and on their earlier albums. Singing at the top of my lungs to “Keep on Loving You,” “Take it on the Run” and “Time for Me to Fly.” Just a great summer night in my youth.

**3. AC/DC, Castle Farms, 1988.**One of the greatest hard-rock bands of all time, a band perfectly geared for a live show, finally came to my neck of the woods. About 20 of my friends and I rented a Ryder truck, put one friend’s $2,000 stereo system in the back, some couches and barbecue grills and made a day of it. We were the hit of the parking lot before and after the show. I got rip-roaring drunk, the band played all the great old songs you’d want to hear, Angus Young did his thing. What an excellent time.

My very best friend died two-and-a-half years ago in a car accident at the age of 29. When I think back on our days together, this concert stands out as one of my fondest memories.

2.Pink Floyd, Pontiac Silverdome, 1987. Another show with my late best friend, and another good buddy. Yeah, Roger Waters had left the band, but for four or five years, everybody thought the band was done. I was such a huge fan of their’s back then. When I heard that they were reforming, coming out with a new album and touring, I had to be there.

For any of you who’ve seen a concert in a domed stadium, you know the acoustics suck. This was no exception. But the band and all of those amazing songs just transcended all of that.
“Time” off the Dark Side of the Moon album, with drummer Roger Mason’s sticks changing colors as he played during the beginning. “Wish You Were Here” with 60,000 singing along. “Comfortably Numb” with the incredible sight of tens of thousands of lighters in the air – the coolest thing I’ve seen in a concert to-date, with all of the expensive pyrotechnics and whatnot.

1. The Smashing Pumpkins, St. Andrew’s Hall, Detroit, 1999 My favorite band goes on a tour of tiny clubs, and the Missus and I score tickets! I kicked myself in the butt when I finally entered St. Andrew’s – all of the bands I like over the years that I’d heard were playing there but passed on. This place was incredibly small. Only room for like 500-600 people! (They crammed about 1,000 in for the Pumpkins show.)

As any Pumpkins fans probably know, the band typically likes to stick to their new albums in concert, and don’t dig too much into the old stuff. Well, it was like this show was totally for the fans. They opened with “I Am One” off Gish. They played “Soma,” which they never play live anymore. The energy in the place was unbelievable. I discovered, however, that in my early 30s I am now officially too old for 3 hours in a mosh pit.

Hope this didn’t bore everyone to tears. I get fired up when I talk about music, concerts, and how they affect people. I look forward to reading all of your posts too.

(Don’t feel you have to be as long-winded as me.)

Oh, GOOD one Milo. I know it has been done before, but it’s been a while, and there’s lots of newbies. Only five? Here we go!

5 a. Dire Straits - On Every Street Tour, 1992, Rotterdam 'Ahoy
I’ll be brief: pure craftsmanship, and great compositions. A classic, albeit very calculated and not really spontaneous.

5 b. Fates Warning - opening for Dream Theater on the 1995 Awake Tour, Utrecht Vredenburg
One of the rare occasions that the opening act was far superior to the headliners. FW rocked the place, and showed great skill and energy. When DT played, they turned out to have become arrogant bastards since their kick-ass debut in 1993 (see #3).

4. The Tea Party - Tryptich Tour, Amsterdam Melkweg, 2000
What a fantastic band! I’ve seen them two times already in three months (firstly, opening for Queensryche [see #1, and they outplayed QR bigtime this year!], later headlining), and I’m gloing again in three weeks. A charismatic band with a very broad repertoire and great instrumental skills.

3. Dream Theater - Images and Words Tour, Utrecht Vredenburg, 1993
The first concert DT ever did in Europe. The energy was awesome. The band was as amazed as the crowd. This concert was one big party, and from an skills point of view possibly the best I’ve ever seen. Third overall.

2. Tool - Aenima Tour, 1997, Amsterdam Paradiso
I have NEVER, EVER seen a band play so HARD and ANGRY as these guys. Unbelievable energy. Plus, they came on-stage topless and painted blue all over. Smurf Metal :wink:
A superb show of a very talented band - and a great album, too.

1. Queensryche - Promised Land Tour, 1996, Rotterdam 'Ahoy
They played the entire “Operation: Mindcrime” set, with background videos. The band was REALLY into it and played positively HARD. I mean, REALLY, REALLY loud! It was a superb concert from a sound point of uhm hearing. Great setup, excellent solos, and Geoff Tate hit all the high notes perfectly. Recently, I saw QR again at the same arena. It wasn’t sold out like the last time. And they didn’t play that hard anymore.
The edge is gone, and Tate’s voice is starting to fade somewhat. The end of an era. It was great while it lasted.
OK, so that’s actually six concerts. Sue me :wink:
To my disappointment, I have yet to see Rush live. When I got into their music (circa 1992), they had done their last European concert up till now. Maybe, someday?

Ahhhh…no problem. The good ol’ Grateful Dead at Broome County Arena, Binghamton, New York, in the spring of 1979.

Now, Binghamton isn’t your swingingest community in the world, but it IS just down the highway from Ithaca, NY, the Freak Capitol of the Universe. And that’s where I was that fateful night, loaded to the gunwales with homemade White Barrel LSD from the good chemistry grad students of the Cornell labs.

The acid helped mightily, but the reason I consider this my best Dead show is that, of all the dozens of Dead shows I’ve taken in, this is the ONLY one where they kicked off the second set with China Cat Sunflower/Know You Rider.

Okay, yeah, I know it wasn’t all THAT unusual by the mid-'80s, but in 1979 it was, and China Cat was always a kinda totem tune for my Deadhead brothers and sisters and me, and when the lights went down and my consciousness was zinging from one end of the hall to the other and the first notes of the Garcia filigree came wafting out of those enormous speakers…oh, god…

You may be right. I saw them on the second stage at Lollapalooza in 1993, and they blew the small crowd there away.

Come to think of it, that was a great concert too. Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Alice in Chains and others.

Saw 'em. By all means, go when you can, even if they’re old fogeys by that time (see my Pink Floyd listing). You haven’t lived till you hear 25,000 people sing “Closer to the Heart” with Geddy, or see “Temples of Syrinx” live.

Only took two posts to get a Deadhead. :slight_smile:

Shit, Milo, if I hadn’t had to run upstairs with tears in my eyes to find a 1979 China Cat in my bootleg collection, I coulda beat Coldfire’s post.

Great bass, Lesh filling, man.

Are you guys going to yell at me because I don’t remember the exact places and times? Just warning ya…

  1. Bush, HFS Festival. Pretty rocking show. Definitely hard core, Gavin and the giys laid themselves out there for the taking. Raw, passionate, orgasmic. Incredible!
  2. Fuel and Orgy, concert in Towson. Going in, I was not a huge Fuel fan (just got free tix :)). But they were so into theit music and so full of rage, I respected that. I’m still not a huge fan, but I do enjoy them. I love Orgy.
  3. Jah Works, last Thursday. This is a local b-more band, more reggae and soul than rock but kicking nonetheless. I’ve seen them at least 15 times, but this time was the best because the place was empty. Well, I was high, who knows, it felt like that to me! :slight_smile: Anyway, I was right up front, making eye contact with the cracked out lead singer Scottie (he smokes a blunt before every show, just like me). I felt so peaceful and totally one with the music. I was just blown away.
  4. Barenaked Ladies, Merriweather Post Pavillion, last summer. I won 3rd row seats, and BNL kicked ass. I loved it! They were so funny and groovy. I didn’t want to leave.
  5. THE ROLLING STONES!!, Winter 96 (Around that time.) Imagine this: at best friend’s house, around 4pm. Her mom calls and says, “You didn’t want tix to the Stone concert tonight, did ya? Someone offered them to me but they wereawful seats.” Oh my goodness, everything you have ever thought or heard about the Stones live is true. They are tied at the runner up spot with Eric Clapton, Beatle coming in first, for my fave rock group, but they were so fucking incredible live. I felt like was having my mind blown every three seconds and I wasn’t even smoking. Wow.


Oh, wait…I’ve got to give FIVE? Sorry about the short-term memory loss, man. And I promise to leave the Dead out, now.

**Frank Zappa, Cleveland Arena, Summer, 1977.

Talking Heads, Central Park, NYC, Fall, 1979.

Alex Chilton, The Knitting Factory, NYC, Fall, 1988.** He did “Goldfinger.” And “Volare.” Nuff said.

Bob Dylan, the bullring in Gijon, Spain, Summer, 1994. With a huge buncha crime fiction writers. Michael Dibdin and I were downstairs getting beers when the music started and we stared at each other goggle-eyed and said “Holy Christ, that’s STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE WITH THE MEMPHIS BLUES AGAIN!!!” And went careening back up the stairs, frothing Spanish beer in every direction, so we could dance to it. And the crowd was tiny, so I strolled RIGHT up the the edge of the stage for the acoustic “Mister Tambourine Man” in the second set.

Woodstock 94-I saw lots of great acts, but these were my faves:
Nine Inch Nails
Green Day
Peter Gabriel

Lollapalooza 1-4
saw many many great acts.
Jane’s Addiction
Pearl Jam
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Mighty Mighty Bosstones
lots of others

By far, the best show I’ve been to yet was Motley Crue, touring for the Dr. Feelgood album. It was back when the speedway near where I grew up could still draw major bands (and back when Motley Crue was, in fact, a major band). I went because I wanted to make sure my Crue-lovin’ little brother could see them, and I ended up having the absolute best time. Beautiful night, great seats, the loudest music I have ever heard in my life, the band was in fine form, the crowd was on in a big way-- just fantastic.

Going to see The Cure with the BF in a few weeks, maybe that’ll make the list as well :slight_smile:

In no particular order:

One of the early “Day on the Green” shows in Oakland. The Eagles, Fleetwood, Mac, Linda Ronstadt and others. I was young, with all my friends and it was glorious.

The Tubes at the Paramount in Oakland. It’s a magnificent old theater and they made the most of it. Pearl Harbor and the Explosions opened.

Delbert McClinton at the Warfield (about 6 years ago). He rocked the house and left Robert Cray (who was the main show) looking like last weeks lunch.

John Hiatt anytime.

Tina Turner.

This may date me a bit, but…I was stationed in Southern California in the later half of the 70’s, and had an opportunity to go to CalJam II, at the Ontario Motor Speedway.
Santana, Dave Mason, Heart, Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, Mohogany Rush, and others too numerous to mention, 50 different varieties of grass at incredibly low prices, thousands of incredibly horny people, incredibly cold beer…hell, need I go on? :slight_smile:

Ike and Slythe - I am SOOO jealous of you guys! Dylan and then Santana, Heart, Aerosmith, etc. I would pee myself or pass out if I heard “Memphis” live. Actually, last year I had my dorm window open and heard soem strains of “Visions of Johanna” from Blonde on Blonde coming from someone’s room. I nearly pmp right then - someone else likes Bob! :slight_smile:

I judge concerts on the feel I get from them. As a consequence some of my faves aren’t my fave artists and even a little off-beat. But very good live nonetheless.
5 Doug Anthony All Stars. If you know them you know how much fun they can be. If not, well… just read on then.

4 The Corrs. Nicely-paced and relaxed concert full of traditional Irish music as well as their singles. Surprisingly upbeat and refreshing. In fact the instrumentals (not found on any of their albums apparently) were the best part.

3 Savage Garden. Fun, entertaining and just watching him prance around in a strut was worth it.

2 They Might Be Giants. Smallish venue but wonderful performance and great interaction. And probably the only time I will ever see a group make a mosh pit form a conga line…

1 Garth Brooks. Yeah I know a lot of people will groan at the mention of his name but he goes off live. He IS a performer. Even the two non-fan friends who went along came away amazed at how good a concert it was. One became a fan based on the live performance.
I would have loved to have seen Queen live - apparently Freddie was fantastic (certainly appears so on videos) live. And Bare Naked Ladies next time they tour Down Under will be a must-see.

I can’t seem to rank them, so I’ll just list my five:

Bob Dylan, Bogart’s, Cincinnati, July 1999. Capacity=1500. This was as close to a religious experience as I’ve ever come. When most artists of this stature (not that there are many) are either long gone or Vegas revues of themselves, it’s really something to see Dylan come into this familiar little club and just tear the place up. I hope it occurs to me to rock that hard when I’m pushing 60.

Phish, Nutter Center, Dayton, December 1997. If I have to pick one of my nine Phish shows, this was it. Some great surprises (“Psycho Killer”, “Boogie On Reggae Woman”, “Tube”), plenty of energy, and “Guyute”. A great example of what keeps me (and several thousand like me) coming back.

**Suzanne Vega, Kentucky Theatre, Lexington, November 1997. **I had front-row seats for this one. Suzanne was accompanied only by her bass player, and the effect was similar to having one of your favorite songwriters stand on your coffee table and sing to you for two hours.

Bruce Hornsby, Kentucky Theatre, Lexington, March 1999. This one caught me off guard. I was volunteering for this concert series by this time. I thought I would like this, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. This was Bruce accompanied only by his piano (can you tell I like my music underproduced?) for well over three hours. I have the tapes. :slight_smile:

U2, OSU Stadium, Columbus, July 1997. In stark contrast to the preceding two. This was the PopMart tour. I think Zoo TV was probably a better show, but I didn’t make it to that one. I was six rows back, which was really too close to get the full effect. As much as I think a stadium is no place for a rock concert, if it’s going to be done, it should be done like this. It would be easy to let the visual flashiness of a show like this overshadow the music, but it really didn’t.

I’m sure I’ll think of more as soon as I hit “Submit”.

Dr. J


damn, you saw rage, tool, and AIC?
wow, im jealous… i really want to see Alice in Chains,
maybe one day!

some favorites of mine:

Black Crowes with Jimmy Page
Rolling Stones
Ben Harper
Black Sabbath
The Cult

there are probably a few I missed too…

Dates approximate:

Pink Floyd, Boston 1973(?). I was a Pink Floyd fan before it became trendy.

Rock & Roll 9, Florida 1973. Nine killer acts including Jo Jo Gunne, Edgar Winter (with a special appearance by Johnny), Elvin Bishop, the Allman Brothers, and (the only loser) the Mahvishnu Orchestra.

Otis Taylor, Albany, NY, July 1999. Amazing Blues.

J. Geils Band and Allman Brothers, Hudson Valley Community College, 1972.

Bruce Springsteen, Union College, 1974. When he was still relatively unknown.

Sha Na Na, Union College, 1971.

Richard Thompson, '99 in Lawrence KS, & '2K in KCMO. This man is truly amazing. I cannot recommend him enough, so if he winds up playing in your area, just go. The advantage is that he usually plays in bars or small venues, so the tickets won’t break the bank. Plus, he has a band member named Pete Zorn who is a freaking music store, down right. Alto Sax, Bari Sax, Soprano Sax, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, penny whistle, he plays it all.

A triple bill that came through last winter was Los Straitjackets, G Love & Special Sauce, and The Reverend Horton Heat. I’m still not such a fan of G Love, but I would recommend Los Straitjackets to anyone who likes a surf rock sound, Mexican wrestling masks, and a rocking version of “My Love Will Go On” or whatever in hell that Titanic song is called. The Rev was The Rev, 'nuff said.

Brave Combo, '2K in KCMO. These guys just have so damned much fun that anytime they come to town, I try to see them.

And The Dead at Starlight Theatre in. . .I dunno, '86? '87? '88? Third, and best, time that I saw them live. Plus, as some friends and I were walking toward the entrance, an enchanting little creature skipped toward me, touched me on the shoulder, and said, “Dose”. So I took the tab off of my shoulder and was blown away.

Flick Lives!

OK, I have seen literally hundreds of live concerts. I’m a bit of a live music junkie. A live performance is about showmanship and about musical proficiency. It’s one thing to make a good studio recording (where you can get innumerable do-overs until you get it right), another thing to perform well live, where you have one shot to get it right. I am a huge fan of R.E.M.'s albums/CDs, but for my money, they have never been great live performers. With that intro, my top 10 live performers are:

[li]The Rolling Stones. Steel Wheels show at Grant Field in Atlanta. The Stones combine musical proficiency with showmanship for the best live performances around. This is the only “big production” live performance I have truly enjoyed.[/li][li]Jason and the Nashville Scorchers. Dark horse here. This is one of the so-called “cow-punk” bands (infusing elements of rock, country, and punk thrash), though I believe they never liked the cow-punk appellation. I saw these fellows on numerous occasions in the late 80’s to early 90’s. No band out there does a better job of working the audience into an absolute frenzy night in and night out.[/li][li]Stray Cats. Brian Setzer before he turned to swing. Once again, the showmanship was amazing. I had rafter seats for this show, and even the folks in the nosebleed seats were on their feet jumping around.[/li][li]Bruce Springsteen. Once again, I had lousy seats, but you have to give The Boss credit. He put on a four-hour show, and had everyone in the arena delirious.[/li][li]The Pretenders. Didn’t miss a note the entire show, and the crowd went wild. Chrissy Hynde is a goddess.[/li][li]Psychedelic Furs. I saw these guys several times, but my favorite performance was at Legion Field in Athens, GA, circa 1985. Alex Chilton, who was living in Athens at the time, opened the show, and get the crowd going (Uke is right about Chilton), then the Furs finished 'em off with a blistering set.[/li][li]BR5-49. One of the “alternative country” acts out there. Got their start playing for tips at Robert’s in Nashville. I caught 'em at the Star Bar in Atlanta a couple of years ago. The atmosphere was electric. They came on stage in rhinestone outfits straight out of Nashville circa 1960, and performed a tear-em-up set of old country classics, from Ernest Tubb, to Webb Pierce, to Hank Williams, plus some hilarious tongue-in-cheek original numbers.[/li][li]Asylum Street Spankers. Another dark horse, and another Star Bar performance. This is a group of acoustic musicians out of Austin, TX, who play a sort of hybrid dixieland/swing/blues style, a la the Squirrel Nut Zippers. The lyrics of their songs are hilarious, and they are one of the more entertaining live acts around. Catch them if they play near you.[/li][li]Radiohead. Caught these guys at the Masquerade in Atlanta, a small-to-mid-sized venue, and they killed.[/li][li]Green Day. International Ballroom in Atlanta, a couple of years back. This band blew the roof off the place.[/li][/list=1]

I have only really enjoyed two bands live, because everyone else sucks.

The Tragically Hip–at Saratoga Winners in Latham, NY in 1994 or 95.(I’ve seen them about 6 times, but that was the best).

Barenaked Ladies–Walnut Creek Ampitheater in Raleigh, NC (1997)