Friday, December 21, 2018

The Best of 2018: The Best Rock Concerts I Attended

Even without any shows by Mssrs. Springsteen and McCartney, 2018 was another rather remarkable year of concert going. (And I love Springsteen on Broadway on Netflix after seeing it live in December '17.)

Including everything from free shows in local parks to sold-out stadium extravaganzas, I attended 45 rock concerts--and I truly enjoyed every one of them.

I say "rock" so as not to include here classical, jazz and theatrical performances, even if the latter included rock & pop songs.

But acts I saw in 2018, and eligible here, range from Buddy Guy to Taylor Swift, Erasure to Foghat, so rock isn't meant in any stringent sense.

I awarded 12 performers a full @@@@@ rating on my Seth Saith scale, and among these, I saw U2 and Pearl Jam twice. (For ranking purposes, I will award them just one berth each.)

And while I will cite opening acts, my ratings and rankings only apply to the headliners. Def Leppard and Journey made for the only true double-bill I saw (with the Pretenders opening the show at Wrigley Field), but though both were quite enjoyable, neither makes the list below.

My Favorite Rock Concerts of 2018
Artists seen multiple times ranked just once; venues in Chicago area unless noted.

1. David Byrne (w/ Benjamin Clementine) - June 3, Auditorium Theatre (my review) 

2. Arcade Fire (w/ Manchester Orchestra) - July 8, Milwaukee Summerfest Mainstage (my review)

3. Depeche Mode (w/ EMA) - June 1, United Center (my review) 

4. Foo Fighters (w/ the Struts) - July 29, Wrigley Field (my review 

5. Pearl Jam - August 20 & 22, Wrigley Field (my review)

6. U2 - May 22 & 23, United Center (my review)

7. Jeff Lynne's ELO - August 15, Allstate Arena (my review)

8. Elton John - October 26, United Center (my review)

9. Stereophonics (w/ The Ramona Flowers) - September 11, The Vic (my review)

10. The Struts (w/ The Glorious Sons) - November 24, House of Blues (my review) 

11. Ash (w/ Namorado) - September 22, Schuba's (my review)

Honorable Mention
(in preference order)

- Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - November 5, Copernicus Center (my review)
- Robert Plant (w/ Seth Lakeman) - February 20, Riviera Theatre (my review)
- Radiohead (w/ Junun) - July 7, United Center (my review)
- Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band (w/ Larkin Poe) - December 14, Allstate Arena (my review)
- Smashing Pumpkins (w/ Metric) - August 13, United Center (my review)
- The Zombies (w/ Don DiLego) - March 19, City Winery (my review)
- Neil Young (John Hammond Jr.) - June 30, Auditorium Theatre (my review)
- Buddy Guy (w/ Ronnie Baker Brooks) - March 31, Rialto Square Theatre, Joliet (my review)
- Simple Minds - October 15, Chicago Theatre (my review)
- Willie Nile - April 14, City Winery (my review)

Thus begins my annual barrage of year-end rankings. In the coming days, please look for The Best of 2018 posts covering Plays, Musicals, Albums, Songs and Movies, as well as others covering Travel, Dining and various other topics. 

If re-posting lists or highlighting selections, please attribute to: Seth Arkin on

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