Saturday, December 05, 2009

My Favorite Concert Performers of the '00s

Rather than try to rank specific concerts--both because my memory ain't that good and I could easily fill all 10 spots with Springsteen shows--I will list my favorite concert performers of the decade, most of whom I saw at least twice if not more.

1. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - I saw the Boss + ESB 26 times (plus 4 other Bruce shows). They were never less than great and often transcendent. Even in their 60s no one does it better.
2. Pearl Jam - Sharing a "never the same show twice" ethos with Springsteen and select few others, they have been consistently spectacular as a live act. Beyond 10 PJ shows in the decade, I also saw a solo Eddie Vedder performance that was truly special.
3. Green Day - From a 2001 show at Milwaukee's Eagles Ballroom to a 2009 show at the United Center--plus 2 in between--Green Day has found ways to stay true to their punk rock origins whether trying to revive their career or packing arenas once they did.
4. The Rolling Stones - I was fortunate to see the Stones 6 times between 2002-2006 and they were never less than magnificent, even throughout the coldest concert I've ever attended, in October 2006 at Soldier Field
5. Paul McCartney - Like Bruce and the Stones, he may be old, but he still knows how to put on an exciting show that everyone seems to love. And the quality of the material he's released since 1997 may surprise you, yet it's not as good as the Wings stuff, and that's not as good as the Beatles' stuff. Combined they made for 4 incredible shows.
6. Radiohead - I've sometimes begrudged them for withholding what fans may most want to hear--e.g. in my 6 shows (5 this decade), I've yet to hear Creep--but I have never failed to enjoy and admire their performances, which include the best lighting design in the business
7. U2 - I've been disappointed with the last 2 albums, and all 9 shows seem to be highlighted by the same core songs (Pride, Streets, Sunday Bloody Sunday, With Or..., etc.) but I still love 'em. Although the massive stage stadium shows of 2009 were my least favorite of the decade.
8. Foo Fighters - Just a tremendous live act, although some of their material of late hasn't thrilled me.
9. The Killers - I only saw them twice and liked them better on the 2007 Sam's Town tour than I did in 2009, but to me they clearly outshined Coldplay as the best band of the '00s that didn't exist prior to the decade. Their new live DVD is really good.
10. AC/DC - I never saw them as a kid, but the 2 times I saw them (2001, 2008) were as good as I could have hoped. They do what they do as well as anyone can do it.
Ours go to 11. The Flaming Lips - Only saw them once and loved 'em; am seeing them again on December 11 at the Allstate Arena

Honorable Mention:
Van Halen - the David Lee Roth tour was excellent; the Sammy Hagar tour not as much
Velvet Revolver - saw them just once but they were surprisingly awesome
Smashing Pumpkins/Zwan
- including 2 Billy Corgan solo shows, I saw them more than anyone except Bruce. The 2000 Pumpkins shows were great and the pre-album 2002 Zwan shows were outstanding
Elton John/Billy Joel - I saw their Face2Face shows on 3 separate tours and loved them all
R.E.M. - Their popularity has shrunken in the US, but they remain a stellar live act
Ray Davies - One of the best songbooks in rock; two magnificent theatre shows and a not as good free performance at Taste of Chicago
Metallica - If you like it loud, they still bring it
David Byrne - Saw him on 2 tours; both were among the most imaginative performances I've seen
Steely Dan - I had never seen them until a show each in 2008 & 2009; was surprised at the depth of their songbook and how good they sounded live
Fleetwood Mac/Lindsey Buckingham - I enjoyed the Fleetwood Mac arena shows I saw in 2003 & 2009, but Lindsey solo at the Park West was even better
Stereophonics - A few shows were disappointing, but at their best this "huge in England, small in US" Welsh band was tremendous

Others of Note:
The Who, Garbage, The Cure, Wilco, Madonna, BoDeans, The Fratellis, David Bowie, Brian Wilson, System of a Down, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Dixie Chicks, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., Ash, Paul Weller, John Fogerty, Ash, Neil Young/CSNY, The Eagles

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

STUNNED! I am stunned you put U2 into your favorite concerts list. You ALWAYS tell me how disappointing their concerts are as they 'go through the motions'. I would move The Who up simply because of their historic teeth, and Van Halen simply crushed, mostly because I've grown to enjoy their music. - tgem.