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Top 12 Concerts

I have been fortunate enough to attend so many great concerts over the years…I’ve been going to concerts almost my entire life and there are too many great shows to list them all here. For years I’ve been meaning to write down and reflect on the 10 best concerts I’ve seen. I’m including 12 here because these all deserve to be in my top 10. Compiling a list of the best live shows I've seen was actually pretty easy. I knew which shows stood out and deserved to go on the list. On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to rank these shows within this list. I’ve put them in an order here, but it’s really hard to pick a favorite at this point.


Dr. Shore’s Top 12 Concerts


1. Zappa Plays Zappa (Featuring Dweezil, Steve Vai, Terry Bozzio and Napolean Murphy Brock) Orpheum Theater, Minneapolis, MN - October 11, 2006

Musically this is probably the best show I’ve ever seen. Short of seeing Frank himself, this is about as good as it gets. I have never, ever seen better guitar playing on stage than this. Vai and Dweezil are as good as it gets.


2. Daniel Amos / Swirling EddiesCornerstone Festival – Grayslake, IL – June 29, 1990

Randy Stonehill was the opener for D.A. and the Eddies at this amazing show. It was pretty much the same band for all three acts. I worked with DA and the Eddies doing promotions at the time, so it was a lot of fun hanging out with them there. It was in a steel pole barn at the Grayslake Fairgrounds, and it was so HOT inside that building, but the show was so great, no one seemed to mind. I’ll never forget standing backstage with Terry when Randy finished his set…Randy walked back stage after his last song and the crowd was still cheering, he came up to Terry and I, beaming from his great seat and apparently happy with the crowd response and Terry put his hand on Randy’s shoulder and said, “Those aren’t just women out there yelling for you ya’ know.”

You can see a pic from the show and check out the set lists here:


3. Yes90125 Tour, St. Paul Civic Center, St. Paul, MN – April 10, 1984

My favorite band on the tour for my favorite album, ‘nuff said. Actually, I should mention, that in lieu of an opening act they showed a couple of Bugs Bunny cartoons before the show started. This was an amazing show with amazing sound.


4. Lindsey BuckinghamOut of the Cradle Show - Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, CA - February 22, 1993

Musicologist and long time friend Jim Worthen and I attended this show together. It was nothing short of amazing. The audience was full of celebrities and Stevie Nicks sat 4 rows behind us. We had great seats. The only thing better than the Out of the Cradle album was seeing it performed live.


5. King CrimsonThrak Tour (The double-trio tour), Starwood Amphitheater, Nashville, TN – August 10th, 1996

Mind blowing musicianship from Fripp, Belew and the gang. Two drummers, two guitarists and two bassists/stick players. On paper that sounds like a bad idea and a train wreck waiting to happen, however, these are 6 of the most talented players that have ever lived and they made it work. In fact, Crimson has never been better. I’m not kidding. My musically inclined “Cousin Mike” Smith can confirm this. The only negative was that it was part of the H.O.A.R.D. Tour, which wasn’t a good fit for KC. The other bands on this tour…well…they paled in comparison.


6. Roger Waters Radio KAOS TourMET Center – Minneapolis, MN - September 10, 1987

I loved his band on this tour. The Bleeding Heart Band…with Paul Carrack…amazing. The Pink Floyd material was great and Roger’s solo stuff was great. The sound and mix at this concert was the best I’ve heard at a live show.


7. Human RadioAlbum Release Show - The Roxy – Los Angeles, CA - 1990

I like to refer to Human Radio as The One-Album Wonders. The best kept secret in music. If you don’t own this disc, I’m sorry, you’re probably not going to be able to find it and you’re missing out on one brilliant album. They put out this fantastic debut on Columbia Records and never released another one. Jim Worthen and I got tickets to this great live show, which was really an album release event for the Columbia promotional staff and the press.


8. JellyfishBellybutton Tour - Bogarts – Long Beach, CA – February 21, 1991

Bogarts (R.I.P.) was probably my favorite club for live shows. It was in Long Beach, so the drive from Huntington Beach in Orange County was a quick one. This is one of the best club shows I’ve ever seen. The show was recorded for Westwood One, and there are tracks from it on the live promo EP that ended up as bonus tracks on a Japanese release. Jim Worthen and I were there and I swear you can hear us in the crowd yelling on the live recording. Jellyfish was an amazing band, I saw them live numerous times and this show is still my favorite.


9. The CallThe Red Moon Tour - The Coach House – San Juan Capistrano, CA – 1990?

This band had passion. Yet another show that Jim Worthen and I saw. I don’t remember the exact date and I’m pretty sure we saw them play a show at Bogarts in Long Beach around that same time. We saw them numerous times and they were always so much fun live. Michael Been’s bass playing and vocals really moved me. Very emotional.


10. Surf PunksBogarts – Long Beach, CA – 1989

I know I may be alone in this, but I loved the Surf Punks. If you never saw them live when they still had the full band (about 6 or 7 people on stage at least) you missed out on one of the most enjoyable and crazy shows you could possibly see. I have honestly never had this much FUN at a concert. The closest I’ve come to this much fun and energy at a show would be the aforementioned DA/Eddies concert. Ironically, they also gave one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen…a few years later, with just a 3 or 4 piece at this same venue, but in the smaller room. The best quote from that night that I’ll never forget…Dennis or Drew, one of the main two guys said, “At this point I think we’re pretty much over with as a band.” Classic. They fell fairly far, fairly fast.


11. U2War TourNorthrup Auditorium – Minneapolis, MN - May 22, 1983

One of the greatest live bands, and I saw them in a theater setting. An unbelievable experience! Anyone that saw the War tour knows what I’m talking about. I’m talking about. U2 has always put on a great show. I’ve seen U2 live 5 times now and this is still my favorite. It stands out because of the small theater setting and because it’s before they got so big.


12. RushHold Your Fire TourMET Center – Minneapolis, MN – April 4, 1988

Unless you count Terry Taylor and his many incarnations and bands (DA, The Eddies, Lost Dogs, solo, etc.) I’ve seen Rush more than any one band. They’re just so good live and I love to watch musicians that are this tight and this proficient on their instruments. Very few bands (King Crimson and Zappa being 2 of the few exceptions) can play live this well. I would also put the 90125-era Yes line-up and tour on this kind of technical performance level. But the bottom line is, Rush has good songs. The lyrics are borderline genius and the melodies, hooks and bridges are as good as it gets. This tour was fun because they played the Amy Mann vocal parts from the Hold Your Fire album on tape and had the wildest video loops I’ve ever seen at a live show.



LOVE The Beatles


Shortly before George Harrison passed away he had an idea that involved Cirque Du Soleil doing a show set to the music of The Beatles. It is a good thing he didn’t ask my opinion. It’s also a good thing George Martin and the two remaining Beatles didn’t ask for my input on the LOVE project. Monkeying with The Beatles classics…remixing, mashing… Yikes! It all sounded like one of the worst ideas I have ever heard and I would have begged them not to do it. At one point I wasn’t even planning on buying the LOVE CD. This seemed like it would be Stars on 45 all over again. What a horrible, money-grubbing concept. Then I talked with a very well know music critic, who had also been very suspect of the idea. He said he had just listened to the entire thing and it was one of the most amazing projects he had ever heard. Then I read George Martin’s comments on how the album was made and the care and time that went into it. I was sure it would still suck, but since I had now been told by a few of the most critical ears that I know that the 5.1 surround version was like a religious experience I had to at least force myself to give it a try. I can honestly say I have never been more wrong about an album. First of all, this is not a thrown together rehash intended to make coin. Yes, somewhere along the way there are probably some people that are involved to make money, there always is, but in this case the end result is a work of art. George Martin and his son have put together, what I truly believe is the album of the year. The Beatles have never, and I mean never sounded this good. For LOVE they took the master tapes and created a cappella bits and used segments of guitar solos, instruments and more (many of which have never been heard before, at least not like this) and mixed them into a thing of pure beauty. Don’t even think about getting the single audio only disc. The CD/DVD combo version has special packaging and the 5.1 surround mix on the DVD will simply blow you away. It brings new life into these already great songs. You’ve never heard The Beatles like this, and if you’re like me, you’re probably thinking you never will, but you can. It’s so much better than I could have ever imagined. It is up there with Brian Wilson’s Smile. In fact, the opening vocal piece is reminiscent of “Our Prayer” from Smile. All of the tracks segue together and there are amazing transitions between them, much like Smile. I believe this album will be used as a benchmark for production. Kudos to George and Giles Martin for this wonderful recording and for helping to create a genius work of art. You have to love Love because it brings these amazing songs into a whole new light.

Finn and Frank

Tim Finn – Imaginary Kingdom



Tim Finn has never really gotten the respect that his younger brother Neil has. Even though Tim was a founding member of Split Enz, it was Neil’s band Crowded House that really put the Finn name on the map. Most critics and fans have always considered Neil’s solo work superior to Tim’s. That was then and this is now. Tim’s new solo release, Imaginary Kingdom changes all that. Put aside any preconceived bias against Tim and listen to this one with fresh ears because he’s delivered a masterpiece and his personal best. Easily as good as any of Neil’s solo efforts and right up there with Crowded House. The opening track “Couldn’t Be Done,” is a brilliant power-pop gem…quirky and hooky…the stuff I wish both of the Finns would do more of. The rest of the album is full of amazing songwriting featuring sweeping themes and beautiful melodies. I don’t know what inspired Tim, but these are some of the best songs of his career. The album also features Tim’s track from the Narnia movie, “Winter Light.” Unfortunately it hasn't been released yet in the U.S. and is only available as an import right now.


Frank Zappa – Trance-Fusion



This is one of 3 albums Frank had finished for release before his death. Why it sat in the vault since then is anybody’s guess. But at least the Zappa Family Trust got this one right. Mastered by sound guru Bob Ludwig, this album sounds great. It’s another album of Franks jazz-rock-fusion guitar solos…most of which were recorded live on the 1988 tour. This continues the theme from Frank’s previous releases Shut Up and Play Your Guitar and Guitar with one exception…this one is much better. It’s a single disc release instead of 2 or 3, but it’s more cohesive and flows perfectly. This is Frank at his best and the sound quality and packaging is top notch.