Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Best of 2008: Live Performances

In 2008, I attended approximately 150 live events, including concerts in small clubs and football stadiums and theatrical performances that ran the gamut from Chicago storefronts to summer stock in Sullivan, IL to the stages of Broadway & London. Beyond rock & roll, musicals and drama, my in-person experiences included jazz, country, blues, Irish folk, opera, classical, ballet, tap dance, modern dance, stand-up comedy, improv and other art forms. I also went to a smattering of athletic events, including games involving all of Chicago's major professional teams (Cubs, Sox, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Fire).

Here is a rundown of the best of what I saw:

Rock Concerts:

- Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - I saw the Boss four times, and all 4 were excellent, with his 3-1/2 hour performance at Harley Fest in Milwaukee being the most memorable.
- David Byrne
- R.E.M.
- Steely Dan
- Bob Mould
- Ray Davies
- The Cure
- Radiohead - They were great at Lollapalooza, but I think I enjoyed their Indy show more, at least from a comfort standpoint.
- Van Halen
- Stereophonics
- Eddie Vedder
- Stevie Wonder
- Brian Wilson
- Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

I was also glad to have seen:
Tony Bennett
BB King
Willie Nelson

Though I saw a number of plays as well, my highlights are predominantly musicals:

- Billy Elliot - London
- The Visit - Signature Theatre, Arlington, VA
- Dangerous Beauty - American Music Theatre Project, Northwestern University
- In the Heights - Broadway
- Fiorello - Timeline Theatre, Chicago
- Les Miserables - Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire, IL
- West Side Story - Little Theatre on the Square, Sullivan, IL
- Legally Blonde - Broadway
- Avenue Q - Broadway in Chicago
- Million Dollar Quartet - Goodman Theatre, Chicago

Honorable Mention (Musicals)

- Gypsy - Broadway
- Sunday in the Park with George - Broadway
- Goodbye Girl
- Rent – Broadway
- Caroline, Or Change - Court Theatre, Chicago
- Gigi - Light Opera Works, Evanston, IL

Best Plays
Columbinus - Chicago, a small theater I can't recall
Amadeus - Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

Other amazing performances:

Ballet: Giselle - Auditorium Theatre, Chicago
Tap Dance: Savion Glover and Bare Soundz
Comedian: Chris Rock
Jazz: Joshua Redman w/ Branford Marsalis at CSO
Opera: Manon and La Traviata - Lyric Opera Chicago
Classical: Yefim Bronfman – Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 3 at CSO
Athletic Performance: Lebron James vs. Bulls 11/8/08
Other: Barack Obama acceptance speech, Grant Park, Chicago

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