Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Some Madge-ic Moments, but Latest Madonna Extravaganza Too Uneven to Feel Truly Momentous -- Chicago Concert Review

Concert Review

United Center, Chicago
September 28, 2015

I don't worship Madonna, and haven't consistently considered myself much of a fan, but I admire her enough as an entertainer to have now seen her on each of her last 5 tours, including Monday night at the UC on the Rebel Heart outing.

A good part of initially wanting to see her in concert coincided with my prolific theatergoing, as wholeheartedly embracing musical theater not only sparked an interest in Madonna's tightly scripted multimedia extravaganzas--including a plethora of dancers, acrobats, props, video imagery, costumes, messages and a few musicians--but eliminated any psychological parochialism about seeing a pop star amidst my typical spate of rock bands.

The first time I saw Madonna in 2004, I was considerably impressed and entertained, with subsequent shows--including this one--being more hit or miss.

Especially in hearing "Madge" express to Howard Stern earlier this year how passionately she plans every moment of her concert presentations, and how obsessive she is about the quality of her performance and the entire production--the start of this tour was postponed due to all the moving parts not yet congealing into place--I can't help appreciate her grandiose creative ambitions, perhaps fueled in part to justify the roughly $400 she charges for top tickets (I didn't pay nearly that much for my upper balcony perch).

While it was nice to see Madonna considerably more amiable, at times even breezy, than the rigid, almost robotic demeanor that--in adhering to her tightly orchestrated thematic conceits--greatly dampened her 2012 concert (by far the most disappointing of the five I've seen), with all due respect and regard for her estimable efforts, I kinda think tries too hard.

For even though she descended to the stage in a cage (while singing "Iconic") to open the show, pole danced on a cross with scantily clad "nuns," sang "Body Shop" from the hood of an onstage car, re-enacted the Last Supper then gyrated upon the table, had an army of dancers in extravagant costumes engaging in numerous nifty maneuvers, etc., etc., most of the show's best moments were its simplest ones.

With Madonna alone on the main floor-spanning catwalk (often playing guitar), renditions of the new "Ghosttown" and "Rebel Heart," as well as a cover of Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose" were really quite lovely. 

An acoustic rendition of "True Blue" was--to paraphrase Kevin Costner's famously derided comment in 1990's Truth or Dare documentary--pretty "neat," and while I think Madonna needlessly and heedlessly modified the tempo of "Like a Virgin" and  other '80s gems ("Dress You Up," "Material Girl"), it benefited from a lack of bombastic accoutrements.

While whatever statements Madonna was trying to make, and likely my overall enjoyment of the show, were hindered by a group of iniebrieted women incessantly yammering behind me--I surmise they were suburban moms on girls night out reliving their high school days--any cogent messaging was almost entirely lost on me. Though that it related to sex and/or religion is now a routine matter of course.

Furthering my losses in the "random rudeness ruining the experience" concertgoing lottery, another nearby nutjob was so vociferously disruptive and belligerant, three security guards had to come take her away. (Perhaps she suffered from "Borderline" personality disorder, though that early hit wasn't played.)

With most of the extreme visuals accompanying new songs early in the set, Madonna's 2-hour plus
performance--beginning near 9:45 after a DJ set by Michael Diamond that could serve as the soundtrack for my arrival in hell--got off to a somewhat challenging start, and the show felt uneven throughout. 

And in terms of sound, vision and thematic cohesion, it failed to coalesce nearly as potently as U2's latest, similarly ambitious multimedia tour presentation.

I respect Madonna for aiming for greater artistry than merely to run through a Vegas-style greatest hits set, and though 10 songs from the underselling Rebel Heart seems a bit much, several--including "Living for Love"--came off quite well. (I don't share her fascination with the word "bitch," as in "Bitch I'm Madonna" and "Unapologetic Bitch," but won't, well complain, about it too much.)

In looking at the setlist, it'd be easy for almost anyone to name some hits Madonna didn't play ("Lucky Star," "Like a Prayer," "Into the Groove," "Ray of Light"), but she seems to mix in different classics on each tour, and not only did gems like "La Isla Bonita," "Music" and "Holiday" sound swell, compared to some past tours she was rather liberal in performing big songs (although often reconfigured).

I hope more devout fans loved every minute of it, and far be it from me to tell one of the world's most successful artists--and greatest provacateurs--how to do her job.

But while appreciating the elaborate shows she stages--still with remarkable energy at age 57--I think I've come to like Madonna best when she simply sings.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An Enlightening Museum Day: Freely Exploring the DuSable Museum of African-American History in Chicago

Museum Visit Recap

DuSable Museum
of African-American History
Visited Sept. 26, 2015

On Saturday, September 26, the Smithsonian held its annual Museum Day, on which the Smithsonian magazine provides (or at least facilitates) free admission to hundreds of participating museums nationwide.

I opted to visit, for the first time, the DuSable Museum of African-American History, and was happy to have my mom accompany me on the trek from Skokie to Hyde Park.

The museum, housed since 1973 in a Daniel Burnham building originally created for the Chicago Park District, is on the eastern edge of Washington Park, just west of the University of Chicago campus and medical center.

Coincidentally, last weekend the DuSable was hosting a stage work called Anne and Emmett--about two young victims of hate, Anne Frank and Emmett Till--that was co-presented by the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, which is located in Skokie.

Mom and I probably could have caught a performance had we planned for it, but wanted to devote proper time to see the museum itself. (We also skipped the Hyde Park Jazz Fest happening nearby.)

I believe we saw all the exhibits on display, which seem to be either permanent or otherwise long-term; a new temporary exhibit was being installed in one closed gallery.

Even the museum's entrance foyer was engaging, with beautiful tile mosaics of its namesake Jean-Baptiste DuSable--who essentially founded Chicago--and other notable African-Americans, including museum founder Margaret Burroughs.

On the upper level are exhibits on Africa, African-Americans in the U.S. Military and Chicago's first black mayor, Harold Washington. There is also a room showcasing an addition to the museum being developed in another Burnham-designed structure across the street, and a striking sculpture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. accompanied by large photos of him speaking at Soldier Field.

The Harold Washington exhibit was especially cool, with an animatronic Mayor speaking to visitors within a reproduction of his City Hall office.

Downstairs there is some fine artwork created by Margaret Burroughs and the museum's new permanent exhibit, Freedom, Resistance and the Journey Toward Equality.

Beginning with displays about slavery--and the mass kidnappings of Africans that facilitated it--the exhibit broaches Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King, The Black Panthers, President Obama and more, chronicling struggle, perseverance and pride.

There are a number of rather evocative artifacts--many shown in photos here--including slave shackles, a yoke, segregated water fountains, a chair representing lunch-counter sit-ins, a jacket belonging to Fred Hampton, the bullet-riddled door of the Black Panthers' Chicago headquarters and even a KKK uniform. 

Much was informative, enlightening, moving and infuriating, and I noted some aspects I should explore further, including learning more about the mutinied Amistad slave ship (I've never even seen the Spielberg movie) and looking for a documentary on the Black Panthers. 

Interspersed interactive videos on a variety of topics were valuable, but viewing would be more opportune if small seating areas were provided at each video station.

And though nothing that filled the allotted space wasn't worthwhile, even in acknowledging spatial and budgetary considerations I wished more depth could be provided on various subjects.

The Great Migration is only covered on one text panel, and considerably more information on the Civil Rights Era could be beneficial, with sections on MLK and Malcolm X surprisingly sparse. There is also almost nothing included on African-American culture and community; I think a section or two on the rise of jazz, ragtime, blues, hip-hop, etc., and how entertainers helped abet and resistance, could fit well within the framework of the exhibit while likely fostering enhanced engagement.

Perhaps once the expansion is completed in the nearby Roundhouse, even more illumination could be provided by this fine and important museum. As it was, I valued my visit and believe most others would too.

And even though Museum Day 2015 has now come and gone, the DuSable Museum generously offers Free Admission every Sunday.

All of the pictures below are from the DuSable Museum of African-American History's new permanent exhibit: Freedom, Resistance and the Journey Toward Equality.

A writing desk belonging to Ida B. Wells

Shotgun-blasted door of the Black Panthers' Chicago headquarters, 1969
A jacket that belonged to Fred Hampton

Sunday, September 27, 2015

'Next To Normal' Feels Quite Fine Rather Close to Home -- Chicago Theater Review

Theater Review

Next to Normal
MadKap Productions
Skokie Theatre
Thru September 27

There can be something rather illuminating about seeing the same piece of theater done across various levels of the theatrical domain. (In that vein, see my latest review of The Producers, which I recently saw for the 13th time.)

Not only can you note how different actors perform the same roles, and how directors, set designers, costumers, etc. deal with spatial and financial considerations in interpreting shows that often began in big Broadway theaters, but particularly in more spartan environments with less celebrated performers you can really get a sense of how strong the source material actually is.

I have now seen the musical Next to Normal three times in the last 5 years, initially in 2011 on its first National Tour featuring Alice Ripley reprising her Tony-winning leading role.

A much lauded--and really strong--regional production brought me to the Drury Lane Oakbrook in 2013, and with Next to Normal even closer to my home, I caught it on Friday night at the intimate Skokie Theatre.

I have always found the show to be a first-rate piece of theater, not only one of the better new works of recent years--especially among the ever-shrinking realm of truly original musicals not based on movies or other name-brand material--but possibly the best combination of drama and musical I've ever seen. (Though Next to Normal didn't win the Best Musical Tony in 2009, it earned the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2010.)

In my previous reviews--which you can access via the hyperlinks 2 & 3 paragraphs up--I recapped the
show's storyline and explained why, despite greatly liking the piece, I rated excellent productions @@@@1/2 rather than a full @@@@@ (in large part because not enough of the narratively-strong songs stand out on their own).

So I won't go into the same depth here, but wanted to extol a rather sublime rendition staged by MadKap Productions at the Skokie.

That the cast & crew retained the emotional resonance and musical merits of Next to Normal in a tight space with just a 4-piece band is all the more impressive when one notes that only 9 performances were being done (the last being today at 2pm).

Certainly, viewers had to imagine the various rooms of a house, psychiatrists' offices and hospitals rather than actually see them, a few of the actors seemed a bit young for their roles and while the singing was strong throughout, some of the vocal timbres were a bit less than Broadway caliber.

But with many audience members likely seeing this work for the first time, the almost-full house at the Skokie undoubtedly got the full essence of Next to Normal, an emotionally-wrought story of a family in which the mother suffers from bipolar disorder.

Whitney Morse, who I really liked last year in The Children's Hour in another dramatically-intense role, is outstanding here as Diana (played by Ripley on Broadway/tour and by the always superb Susie McMonagle in Oakbrook).

All of the other actors are also notably good, including Brian Zealand as Diana's husband Dan, Molly LeCaptain and Jordan Grzybowski as their kids, Natalie and Gabe, Christopher Selefski as Natalie's boyfriend Henry and Nick Shoda embodying two different psychiatrists that Diana sees.

The band was also terrific, so in this review that essentially serves only to salute fine work (coming as it does on the last day of the run), I'll also give a shout out to musical director/keyboardist Gary Powell, pianist Jeff Poindexter, guitarist Scott Sedlacak and drummer Dylan Frank, who I consistently noted for his particularly fine playing.

And while I think the emotional storyline (by Brian Yorkey) is more the greatest strength of Next to Normal--the theater went hear-a-pindrop silent upon a major revelation--than is the music, the score by Tom Kitt (with lyrics by Yorkey) serves the narrative quite well and features some standout tunes like "I Am the One" and "I'm Alive."

Unless you read this and rush right over to Lincoln Avenue in downtown Skokie, you probably won't get to this production of Next to Normal.

But even if you generally prefer plays, this is a musical well-worth seeing.

And even in far more sizable spaces with larger bands, grander scenery and much longer runs, you would be fortunate to see it enacted as good as it has been within my hometown.

Next to Normal, in the neighborhood of magnificent.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Despite an Entertaining Set of Songs, The Fratellis Stop Short of Meeting My Goals -- Chicago Concert Review

Concert Review

The Fratellis
w/ opening act Grizfolk
The Vic, Chicago
September 24, 2015

No song has made Chicago happier in recent years than one by the Fratellis.

But even before "Chelsea Dagger" came to follow every goal scored by the Blackhawks, the Scottish trio delighted me.

I loved their 2006 debut album, Costello Music, from the first time I heard it (upon UK release), and wound up ranking it as my second favorite album of this century's first decade.

Though the Fratellis aren't all that sonically similar to the Ramones, because of the three unrelated bandmates adopting the names Jon, Barry and Mince Fratelli I always imagined a certain kinship, and the two shows I'd seen in 2007 & 2008 had a punkishly mirthful rambunctiousness.

While each have had some nice moments, subsequent Fratellis albums haven't wowed me on par with Costello Music and at some point, I believe the band broke up or went on an extended hiatus. (I recall Jon Fratelli being brought to town on his own to perform "Chelsea Dagger" amidst the 2010 Stanley Cup.)

So I was glad to note the Fratellis being back in action and playing a gig at the Vic Thursday night--touring behind a new album called Eyes Wide, Tongues Tied--and tickled to be able to get a ticket at the door for just $25.

Despite the show not being a sellout, I was also heartened to be part of a good-sized, avidly adoring crowd. And given what the Fratellis played--not only a good chunk of Costello Music but also several other songs whose live versions enhanced my appreciation--it should have been a gleeful night.

And rather merrily, an unknown-to-me band called Grizfolk delivered a terrifically enjoyable opening set.

With a sound somewhat akin to Imagine Dragons with less "bro"ness, they began with a song called "Waiting for You," sounded good throughout their 30 minutes and  announced a new song called "Bob Marley" which didn't really have any reggae flavor, but the "Bob Marley's playing on the radio" chorus was pretty catchy.

As the Fratellis took the stage, the first thing I noticed was that singer/guitarist Jon Fratelli looked far skinnier than I ever recalled, to the point of being wiry if not gaunt.

Fitness is never a bad thing, but he looked skinny enough to make me wonder if he had been ill or otherwise addled. I've found no substantiation of anything along these lines, so don't mean to cast unfair aspersions, but while he made it through the 90+ minute set without any noticeable problems, his singing and even guitar playing didn't always seem that hardy or hale.

On paper, not only would the setlist have seemed pleasing to me--there isn't one yet posted to and the show didn't exactly match recent dates--but some less familiar tunes ("Baby Don't You Lie to Me," "She's Not Gone Yet but She's Leaving," the wonderfully Stonesy "A Heady Tale") turned out to be among those I enjoyed most.

But in a variety of hard-to-pinpoint ways perhaps imperceptible to others--and if you were there and loved the show, I'm honestly glad you did--I found the performance to be somewhat muted, far from rollicking and relatively joyless.

As @@@1/2 (out of 5) should suggest, I'm not saying I hated the show, nor insinuating that there was anything sloppy or half-hearted about the effort the band put forth. 

But with expectations of the Fratellis--augmented onstage by a keyboardist--to be deliriously fun, on an evening when everything was ideal about my personal comfort and vantage point, the end result was merely "OK."

I'm not sure if something was wrong with the mix, if Jon's guitar and vocals weren't turned up loud enough, if the band's gotten tired of blasting through the Costello Music cuts the way they once did, if a sluggish professionalism has supplanted reckless abandon, if it was just an off night or if I just wasn't feeling the vibe.

Due to my great affinity for their debut record, songs like "Henrietta," "Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night," "Flathead," "For the Girl," the wondrous ballad "Whistle for the Choir" and others couldn't help bring a certain delight, but probably didn't match the exhilaration of simply listening to the album at high volume.

Considerably more vitality seemed to be pumped into songs I didn't know nearly as well, including those mentioned a few paragraphs up, "Jeannie Nitro" and the show closing "Until She Saves My Soul."

I loved hearing the crowd chant, "Chelsea! Chelsea!" to bring the band back onstage for encores, and reveled in "Chelsea Dagger" like everyone else, though found it strange that the band didn't even mention the Blackhawks given than much of their local renown is tied in. (At show's end, with songs having been sandwiched around "Chelsea Dagger," bassist Barry Fratelli did hold up a Blackhawks t-shirt that may have been tossed to him by a fan.)

With a prime balcony seat, no ticket surcharges, one of the better opening sets I've seen in awhile, some of my favorite songs of this century, increased appreciation for songs beyond those I already loved and idyllic logistics thanks to the Belmont "L" being just steps away, it certainly was far from a bad night.

But while the Fratellis were once a bad I giddily championed to anyone who might care, I was left less convinced that even I still should (at least live and in person).

Friday, September 25, 2015

June Agreeably Becomes September: Energized and Defiant, Robert Plant Looks Back, Forward on His Own Terms -- Chicago Concert Review

Concert Review

Robert Plant
and the Sensational Space Shifters
w/ opening act JD McPherson
FirstMerit Bank Pavilion, Chicago
September 23, 2015
(rescheduled from June 10)

"These are the Sensational Space Shifters," imparted Robert Plant to the robust crowd gathered at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion about the impressive collection of musicians with whom he has toured for the past 3 years.

"It could've been different, but it ain't. Thank God."

Although I don't share Plant's aversion to a reconvening of Led Zeppelin--I'd be at a reunion show in a heartbeat--I admire not only his resistance, but the way he seems to revel in his disinterest.

And though, with Wednesday having been the last Space Shifters show on the books, clamoring for a re-Zeppification is likely to reach a crescendo--from the public, press and Jimmy Page, if not necessarily in that order--Plant once again aptly demonstrated that there are more apparently gratifying ways for him to spend his time and talent.

Yet rather than being unwilling to revisit his past--Plant's sets include a good amount of Zep, as well as covers of bluesy, rootsy songs that influenced his passions and career path--the still golden-tressed singer seems simply not to have any need to relive it.

Especially as someone a bit too young to have followed Led Zeppelin when they ruled the earth--though I did relish when my dad added 1979's In Through the Out Door to our family's record collection--it's easy to envision the great music, packed stadiums, worldwide superstardom and larger-than-life existence as a dream anyone would relish resurrecting.

But groupies swarming hotel hallways may not seem as fantastical when you're 67 as at 25, and given that Zeppelin ended with the substance excess-related death of drummer John Bonham--a pre-Zep friend and bandmate of Plant's--while Page also battled harrowing addictions, the realities and recollections may not be as utopian as outsiders may imagine.

Plant also tragically lost his young son during the Zeppelin years, and despite the record-breaking revenues a reunion tour would generate, for an already rich man the idea of reboarding the mothership may not only feel unnecessary but emotionally fraught, especially given the demands and expectations involved--vocally and otherwise.

Still, any inference that Plant isn't abundantly proud of what he, Page, Bonham and John Paul Jones created and accomplished, nor appreciative of the fervor with which fans continue to exalt Led Zeppelin 35 years after their breakup, was again proven misguided throughout Wednesday's 90-minute performance on Northerly Island.

I might even suggest that from an artistic standpoint--rather than in terms of publicity, crowd-size, cross-generational reach, rampant news feed regurgitation or catalog album sales--Plant may well be doing more to promote the monumental merits of his old band than  a reunion run would.

Having been enraptured by Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters' transcendent performance at Chicago's intimate Riviera Theatre just last October, my friend Paolo and I bought tickets for the June date not only as something of an encore--happy to have three other friends newly Planted nearby--but in good part due to the somewhat odd inclusion of indie-rock heroes, The Pixies, as the opening act. (I've also seen Plant several other times over the years, including on two tours with Page in the '90s.) 

The June 10 date wound up coinciding with a Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Finals game, so I wasn't too chagrined when it was canceled on the day of the show due to an illness impeding Plant's voice, but it's too bad the Pixies weren't part of the makeup date, even if--despite being a longtime fan--I wasn't all that enthralled by their festival sets I've caught in recent years.

In their absence, an Oklahoman named JD McPherson and his band delivered a solidly enjoyable opening set in being graciously allotted a full hour by the headliner, who likely appreciates the melange of rock, country, folk, rockabilly, Americana, bluegrass, Appalachian roots music and other styles & textures that have factored heavily into Plant's own musical explorations, including his Grammy-winning Raising Sand album with Alison Krauss.

With the 6-piece Space Shifters more than dextrous enough to traipse all these genres and more--it was again reiterated that Robert Plant doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves for westernizing "World Music" in a way akin to Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and David Byrne--Plant opened with a rendition of Zeppelin's "Trampled Underfoot" that was both faithful and reinterpreted at the same time.

His still-supple legendary voice the thread that seamlessly linked tunes from 2014's stellar Lullaby and... the Ceaseless Roar ("Turn It Up," "Rainbow," "Little Maggie") with Zeppelin classics ("Black Dog," "Dazed and Confused," "Whole Lotta Love," "Rock and Roll") and old blues covers reminiscent of those in Zep's early canon ("Spoonful," "Fixin' to Die"), Plant impressively foraged the estimable talents of his backing band, including Juldeh Camara on a distinctive African one-string fiddle. (See the full setlist on

Way beyond pandering stage patter to the local crowd, Plant graciously recognized that without Chicago record labels like Chess, Vee Jay and Delmark bringing the blues and other American music to Britain, he likely wouldn't have Led the life he has.

(I couldn't help but note that the old Chess Records studio, now the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation perhaps in part funded by latter-day "Whole Lotta Love" royalties, was only about 2 miles from the lakefront venue.)

Lest anyone forget the "Hammer of the Gods" amidst the diverse soundscape, guitarists Skin Tyson and Justin Adams brought requisite power to Page's iconic riffs in all the right places.

Likely my favorite moment of the night was when Tyson, on acoustic guitar, took centerstage alongside Plant and keyboardist John Baggott for a lushly beautiful take on "The Rain Song" from Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy that served to enhance appreciation for both the original version and what Plant has been doing of late.

It was also reminiscent of the sublime rendition of "Going to California" I witnessed last year at the Riv, a show both Paolo and I agreed was just more mind-blowing due to the proximity that served to make the power chords that much more thunderous. 

That some different Zeppelin tunes took the place of "Ramble On," "What Is and What Should Never Be" and "Bring It On Home," made this Plant show wonderfully complementary, but while terrific, the primordial oomph was just a bit diminished.

Nonetheless, on a beautiful night, with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop in the company of great friends, hearing rock's quintessential singer actually building on his legacy in somewhat unsuspecting fashion--yet again--made not only for the next best thing to a Led Zeppelin reunion, but perhaps, in certain regards, something even better.

This is a nice composite video a YouTube user named zepperl posted from Wednesday's Robert Plant show, including parts of "The Rain Song" and "Whole Lotta Love," among others: 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pithy Philosophies #25

Seth Saith:

Every day, find something that fascinates you. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Concert Masters: The 25 Best Live Rock Acts, Right Now

Last week I went to a @@@@@ concert by AC/DC, sure to be among my favorites of 2015. This week, I'm ticketed to see Robert Plant, whose phenomenal show last year at the Riviera was high on My Favorite Concerts of 2014.

In between these two legendary performers, it seems like a good time to posit the Best Live Acts, as of right now.

I initially thought to make this "The Best Live Acts of My Lifetime," but as it's inherently limited to artists I've seen, it couldn't include, say, Led Zeppelin or The Clash, who were highly regarded live acts during my lifetime, but before my concert-going time (or otherwise never seen, and I'm not counting artists only seen on TV, DVDs or YouTube clips.)

I also wouldn't be sure what to do with Nirvana, who I loved the one time I saw them in 1993. And while I will (quite unscientifically) factor in recollections of concerts I've seen dating back to the early 1980s, likely bestowing natural favoritism on artists I've seen numerous times, I'd be flummoxed on whether I should be judging acts like Peter Gabriel and John Mellencamp on their very best shows seen (back in the '80s) vs. excellent-but-not-as-phenomenal more recent ones.

So the eligibility and criteria for this list essentially equates to My Favorite Rock Concert Artists as of Right Now, meaning those still actively touring (or who have this year, as in the case of the Rolling Stones, or presumably will be hitting the road again in the coming years).

While many of my picks are older artists who may have been even better before I got to see them, or who even in my estimation were more amazing some years ago, let me reiterate that the rankings predominantly represent current/recent merits (i.e. how good they might be the next time I see them.)

And just to mention it, at the end of 2009, I posted My Favorite Concert Performers of the '00s (not surprisingly including many similarities to this list). I've also ranked my favorite concerts of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 in Seth Saith's barrage of year-end, "Best Of" lists. You can also find concert reviews by using the Search function in the right column.

Seth Saith these are the Best Live Acts, Right Now

1. Bruce Springsteen (seen 44 times, most recent 2014)
2. Pearl Jam (16, 2014)
3. Paul McCartney (10, 2014)
4. Arcade Fire (3, 2014)
5. Rolling Stones (12, 2015)
6. U2 (18, 2015)
7. Green Day (7, 2013)
8. AC/DC (4, 2015)
9. Foo Fighters (13, 2015)
10. Willie Nile (5, 2015)

11. Soundgarden (4, 2014)
12. Bob Mould (8, 2014)
13. Neil Young (6, 2014)
14. The Killers (3, 2012)
15. Santana (2, 2014)
16. Billy Joel (5, 2014)
17. The Who (10, 2015)
18. Radiohead (8, 2012)
19. Coldplay (5, 2012)  
20. Elton John (6, 2013)

21. Peter Gabriel (5, 2012)
22. System of a Down (2, 2012)
23. Metallica (3, 2009)
24. Robert Plant (6, 2014)
25. Manic Street Preachers (1, 2015)

Honorable Mention

Depeche Mode (3, 2013)
(5, 2013)
Stevie Wonder (2, 2014)
John Fogerty (4, 2014) 
Fleetwood Mac (4, 2014)
Bob Seger (5, 2014) 
John Mellencamp (7, 2015)
Wilco (10, 2014)
Smashing Pumpkins (18, 2015)
Red Hot Chili Peppers (6, 2014)
Leonard Cohen (1, 2013)
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (9, 2014)
Rush (9, 2015)
Cheap Trick (12, 2015)
Paul Weller (5, 2015)

Righteous Addendums (originally omitted)

Elvis Costello (6, 2014)
Prince (3, 2012)