Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Best of 2011: The Best Concerts I Attended

2011 was a really good concertgoing year. Aside from years in which I've seen Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band multiple times--hopefully 2012 will be another such year, despite the sad passing of Clarence Clemons--I can't readily recall a year in which I've enjoyed as many shows to such an extent.

As I've pretty much come to expect, my favorite shows are almost exclusively drawn from old favorites, for there aren't many acts I've yet to see that I knowingly want to.

But Arcade Fire, who I saw for the first time in April, was truly a revelation in terms of just how good they were live. Although I had seen a number of live streaming concerts of theirs previously, catching them in person was a far transcendent experience.

Which is why, although I saw a number of full concerts within the comfort of my condo in 2011-- streaming live over the internet, via Blu-ray/DVD and on the Palladia cable channel--and enjoyed several of these, they are not eligible for inclusion below. Though I was often able to get a sense of an artist's abilities as a live performer, there is much that just can't be replicated without actually "being there." And I'm not speaking simply of the smell of pot or the jerk in front of me arguing with his girlfriend all night.

As you'll see, the top two spots on my list are taken by acts I saw multiple times. Each of their shows could easily have earned its own berth--although the Chicago U2 show seemed slightly better than the Denver one, and McCartney's Wrigley shows felt even cooler than the one I caught in Paris--but I decided not to clog the list with redundancies. And even if you don't bother to click to see my reviews of each show--a few I didn't bother reviewing--I thought I'd mention that the first nine listed all got @@@@@ ratings from me, while the Foo Fighters got @@@@1/2. A good year for live music, indeed.

The Best Concerts of 2011

1. Paul McCartney - July 31, August 1, Wrigley Field (my review); November 30, Bercy, Paris

2. U2 - July 5, Soldier Field (my review); May 21, Invesco Field, Denver (my review)

3. Arcade Fire - April 25, UIC Pavilion (my review)

4. Soundgarden - July 16, UIC Pavilion (my review)

5. Pearl Jam - September 4, Alpine Valley, East Troy, WI (my review)

6. Willie Nile - September 23, Fitzgerald's, Berwyn (my review)

7. Wilco - December 13, Riviera Theatre (my review)

8. Roger McGuinn - June 3, Beverly Arts Center (my review)

9. Ray Davies - November 11, Chicago Theatre (my review)

10. Foo Fighters - September 17, Scottrade Center, St. Louis (my review)

Honorable Mention

Fastball/Smoking Popes - August 27, Backlot Bash, Skokie (my review)

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band - April 2, Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI (my review)

Rush - April 12, United Center

Jerry Lee Lewis - December 3, Congress Theatre (my review)

Ike Reilly/Alejandro Escovedo - July 3, Summerfest, Milwaukee  

Steve Miller Band - August 4, Chicago Theatre

The Smashing Pumpkins - October 14 - Riviera Theatre (my review)

No comments: