Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Reeling in the Years--- My ten Favorite Live Rock Concerts
In the wake of the huge response to the previous rock n' roll posts, I offer the list of the ten best concerts I have seen and would love to have captured on my reel to reel recorder. Of course everyone will have a different list since we haven't all gone to the same concerts. And of course it is also true that you might catch a band on an off day, or on a remarkably good day. The issue is-- were they in top form when you saw them, or not? A lot of things can factor into such a list: 1) the weather; 2) the equipment; 3) the performance; 4) the length and breadth of the performance; 5) who were the preliminary bands (if any)?
I am listing these in no particular order.
1) The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder in the Charlotte Coliseum. The acoustics were o.k., but the performances could hardly have been more of a study in contrasts. I loved them both, but actually Stevie Wonder, who opened the showed, was better than the Stones in terms of actual performance.
2) Bob Dylan and the Band in Charlotte Coliseum. The Band came out and did a wonderful set of their own first, and then Bob came out and did an electric, and then an acoustic set. His voice actually sounded decent (ala Sarah vintage) and he did not mumble through things. Pure magic, especially the acoustic set.
3) The Eagles and Joni Mitchell in Cameron Indoor Stadium (at Duke)-- This was just after the first Eagles lp was released, and they were an 'item' as country rockers. This was also just after Mitchell's Blue lp hit the top of the charts. They were both in peak form, and all the cigarette lighters burned out asking for more encores this was so great.
4)The Moody Blues at Blossom Center (near Cleveland)-- This was later in their career but they came out smoking and did not slow down. I was amazed how good the vocals were, especially Justin Heyward, and they did a nice cross-section of their good stuff. The symphonic sound was even better than in the old Melletron days.
Question was the last encore and everyone was ready to enter the Kingdom at that point.
5)The Little River Band at House of Blues (Myrtle Beach)-- This was stunning, and I love concerts in small venues anyway. They did all their multitudinous hits singing with verve and playing immaculately. It was an evening to remember, and even my children loved it and sang along to the tunes.
6) Bruce Hornsby Solo (Kentucky Theater, Lexington)--- I have always liked his incorporation of southern folk music into his performances, and he is an amazing pianist. It was wonderful, and he sang well.
7) Joe Cocker and the Greaseband and Jefferson Airplane (at Fillmore East, N.Y.)-- This was my first introduction to what big time rock concerts were going to be lie, and I was simply blown away. "I got by with a little help from my friends"
8) Linda Ronstadt and Neil Young at the Kennedy Center (D.C.)-- We hitched a ride from Chapel Hill to see this one, and took the Sunday night all nighter bus back to the Hill for Monday classes. And it was worth all the lost sleep. Ronstadt had just released Heart Like a Wheel, and she blew everyone out of the building with her killer vocals and band. Neil needed to be completely up to snuff to beat that opening act, and he was--- playing both acostic and electric numbers with verve. Another magical night.
9) David Crosby and Graham Nash at Duke--- These guys could take you right on out of the building and into the sky with their immaculate harmonies and the wonderful 12 string guitar playing by Crosby. They did songs from the Byrds days (Hey Mr. Tamborine Man) the Hollies days, the CSN days, their solo lps. It was acoustically fabulous and enough to make anyone fall in love with their music unless they had a heart of stone. I later saw Crosby here with his son's band (CPR) in Lex. and he still has the juice. The CSN concert in Charlotte was good as well, and Still added a hard edge with his blues songs and great guitar licks.
10) Eric Clapton and Friends in the Greenboro Coliseum-- (the friends being Duane Allman, Ringo Starr, Pete Townsend). This was great, and we got a selection of all Clapton's ouevre, even from Yardbirds and Cream and Blind Faith days. Naturally, Layla was the encore that brought down the house. I did also see the Who much later do Quadrophenia, in Indiana of all places, and they were good, but it was long after the Moon and Entwhistle days, sadly.
Other concerts I loved just outside the top ten-- Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, Uriah Heep, Poco, Foreigner, Collective Soul, the Allman Brothers, Seals and Croft, the Beach Boys, America with Christopher Cross, Elton John (in Boston Garden after I ran the Boston Marathon in 1993), Gordon Lightfoot, Howard Jones, Leo Kottke, Judy Collins, and the beat goes on.