Top 12 Concerts
November 30, 2006
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 Eddies – Cornerstone 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: http://www.danielamos.com/timeline90.html
3. Yes – 90125 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 Buckingham – Out 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 Crimson – Thrak 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 Tour – MET 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 Radio – Album 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. Jellyfish – Bellybutton 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 Call – The 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 Punks – Bogarts – 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. U2 – War Tour – Northrup 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. Rush – Hold Your Fire Tour – MET 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.
WOW. Were we married then or just dating?
Kinda surprised the Trevor Rabin solo show at the Roxy or the Swirling Eddies debut show at Biola didn't make your list though. That and the dozens of Adam Again, Violet Burning and Scaterd-Few we went to in So. Cal. back in the day. Lots of good memories. Jim W
Posted by: Jim Worthen | November 30, 2006 at 05:00 PM
The U2 War concert! Aah, memories. They played in Buffalo in April of '83, I think. I was pretty much only listening to Keith Green and Bob Ayala records back then, and owned only one U2 record (October; I'd received it as a wedding present). A friend (Ken) invited my wife and I to attend the show with him. I declined, not having heard the War album. He embarrassed me into going -- "What?? Anyone who's anyone will be going to the U2 concert." So we went. "But this better be worth the money." It was held at Shea's, a beautifully-restored theatre with a balconey. Our seats were on the floor, just below the balconey's edge. At one point during the frenzied show, I happened to look up and noticed that the balconey was visibly flexing mere inches above our heads -- the throng was pogoing to some intense tune which I've forgotten. I almost crawled under my seat in fear. Not long afterward, the band slowed things down -- they were instructed to do so by the people running the venue.
Tony, don't forget seeing Combustible Edison at Rochester's Bug Jar, November 1998. A fun time for sure.
Posted by: Dave Danglis | November 30, 2006 at 05:36 PM
Ha! You're funny Jimbo! We sure did see a lot of shows together during those 5 years in Cali. Believe me, I haven't forgotten the Trevor Rabin show..if there was a number 13 on my list, it would be there. I also haven't forgotten the Eddies at Biola...that was a wild show, but the DA/Eddies show at Cornerstone was better. Danglin' Dave: That Combustible Edison show was killer! It would probably make my top 20. Adam Again, The Violet Burning and The Lost Dogs would all make my top 15. That Pritzl-Roe show from a year ago would definitely be up there as well.
Posted by: dr. tony shore | November 30, 2006 at 07:45 PM
But Dave...what did you actually think of the U2 War concert? Did you love it?
Posted by: dr. tony shore | November 30, 2006 at 07:47 PM
The U2 War show as so long ago, I don't remember my reaction to it. I *do* remember Bono climbing on various stage apparatus, popping up in various different areas of the venue, and demonstratively waving a white flag. I'm sure I thought it was worth my money when it was over, and even though I might have been grateful that the balconey didn't come crashing down upon us, I was bummed that they had to ease up on the intensity. It's the only U2 concert I've ever attended, but I agree with the general opinion that those guys know how to put on an entertaining show -- their concert vidoes bear that out.
Posted by: Dave Danglis | December 01, 2006 at 09:49 AM
NiCe LiST :-)
The Pritzl-Roe show from This year was Twice as GooD as Last years show!
Posted by: DaLe | December 01, 2006 at 10:34 AM
I saw some great ones with you as well. What about the Swirling Eddies in Hollywood at the Trobadour! I also recall seeing a great show around Christmas time 1992 with T Bone Burnett and Friends (Van Dyke Parks, and Sam Phillips w/Mark Heard backing) at McCabe's Guitar Shop in L.A with you. Also not to be forgotten is the Galactic Cowboys at that little hole in the wall club in Fullerton. A few personal Faves of mine besides those listed above.
The Alarm @ UCLA for MTV broadcast in 1986.
U2 at the Pond (All that you can't leave behind tour)P.S. I've seen them 10+ times and have never been let down.
and Bruce Cockburn with opening act Sam Phillips at the Galaxy in Anaheim round Nothing But a Burning Light Tour.
Posted by: Chris Elliott | December 01, 2006 at 08:37 PM
Tony, either we shared good or bad taste, but we certainly ended up at a lot of the same concerts in Cali. I remember one Bruce Cockburn show at The Ventura Theater that was magical. Jim mentioned Adam Again, and I fondly recall a show in Orange County (Placentia? Yorba Linda?) that was great. It was on Martin Luther King's birthday. Or how about those Knotts nights? The Choir, Adam Again, Daniel Amos, Randy Stonehill -- all on the same night! I saw one of the Amos 'n Randy shows there. Speaking of The Choir, I cannot forget the night I ran into The Choir guys at a U2 show. Back then, you'd run into other artists all the time. Seeing Mark Heard at a tiny club was heaven. There was a benefit at Calvary Chapel Downey one night. I think Daniel Amos had had equipment stolen or something. Bob Bennett, David Edwards, Randy Stonehill and Mark Heard all appeared. Then there was the night at Biola when I saw Randy Stonehill and Larry Norman together. Or the night at Disneyland when I saw Stonehill in his famous patchwork jeans. My first two Christian concerts are also memorable. Andre Crouch (at Knotts once again). Amy Grant, a little girl at the time, was also on the bill. But I'd never heard of her then, so I passed. My other first concert -- at right around the same time -- was Sweet Comfort. Some skinny dude named Carman opened the show. Ah, but I could go on all day. But I'll stop now.
Posted by: Dan MacIntosh | December 06, 2006 at 12:19 PM
tony, you have horrible taste in music....haha...
my brief twelve in no particular order.
1. Van Halen 1984
2. Corey Hart/Rick Springfield 1985 (go ahead let it all out)
3. Prince: 1998 Emancipation Tour
4. U2: Where the Streets Have No Name video shoot: it was a 45 minute concert before the cops pulled the plug.
5. Mike Peters at the Viper Room around 2000
6. Circle of Dust Cornerstone 95
7. The Choir/Sixpence/Starflyer The Wherehouse 94
8: Prayer Chain/Violet Burning/77's at Redlands 90-91? SFC played but i'm leaving them out.
9: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club/The Waterboys 2000
10: Mike Knott instore when i managed a Family Christian Store...
11: Mortal: CS Northridge 2001?
12: Love and Rockets Farewell show/Roxy 2000
Posted by: Mike Flatt | December 10, 2006 at 01:10 AM
oh yeah, I LOVED the surf punks back in the day...
Posted by: Mike Flatt | December 10, 2006 at 01:14 AM