Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Best of 2015: The Best Rock Concerts I Attended (plus some Classical and Jazz)

No, folks, you haven't somehow stumbled upon a year-end blog post chronicling the best concerts of 1996 or 1987 or 1971.

Blogs didn't exist back then. 

But yes, every one of the 21 acts that delivered my favorite rock shows of 2015 could well have done so in any one of the above years, if not two or all three. (With the caveat that some didn't actually tour in those years or may have been performing under different incarnations; e.g. Noel Gallagher with Oasis. Also, for most of 1971, I was only 2 years old.)

I would worry--kinda, though not really--about being seen as a fossil, glorifying the virtues of musical dinosaurs, oblivious to what's happening in the here & now, if not for a couple mitigating rationales:
A) The acts I've long loved continue to play numerous songs I love--and they're still really good at it. I wouldn't repeatedly make a point of seeing the Rolling Stones, Who, AC/DC, Robert Plant, etc., etc., if I felt they were delivering shoddy, piss-poor shows that diminished their legacy. Those who don't want to believe it, won't, but the gigs they and others gave in 2015 genuinely rocked.  
B) While I'm not a big fan of festivals nor general admission venues without seating options, I'm not adverse to seeing great new, young bands; I just don't know any. If there's a rock band comprised of members in their 20s who you believe can deliver a fantastic, 2-hour concert in a 10,000+ seat venue, I beg you to tell me about them. 
Anyway, it's not like I didn't see anyone "new" in 2015; Manic Street Preachers, Jesus & Mary Chain and Judas Priest are all acts I saw for the first time, although each has existed for well over 20 years. And I did see one relatively recent band, The Fratellis, but found them disappointing compared to previous shows.

So archaic as they may seem to some, I was rather excited and delighted by...

My Favorite Rock Concerts of 2015
Notable opening acts cited, but rankings are based on headliner performance only.

The top two artists could take up the top 5 berths, but I decided to list them just once.

Venues in Chicago unless noted.

1. U2 - June 24, 25, 28 - United Center (my review)

2. The Rolling Stones - June 23, Summerfest, Milwaukee w/ Buddy Guy (my review); July 8, Comerica Park, Detroit (my review)

3. The Who w/ Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - May 13 - Allstate Arena (my review)

4. Manic Street Preachers - April 29 - Metro (my review)

5. AC/DC - September 15 - Wrigley Field (my review)

6. Foo Fighters w/ Cheap Trick, Urge Overkill, Naked Raygun - August 29 - Wrigley Field (my review)

7. Robert Plant - September 23 - FirstMerit Bank Pavilion (my review)

8. Jesus & Mary Chain - May 5 - Riviera Theatre (my review)

9. Bob Mould w/ Jason Narducy - October 11 - SPACE, Evanston (my review)

10. Willie Nile - February 13 - SPACE, Evanston (my review)

11. John Mellencamp w/ Carlene Carter - February 18 - Chicago Theatre (my review)

Honorable Mention (in preference order)

The Waterboys w/ The Blue Bonnets - May 6 - House of Blues (my review)

The Replacements w/ Smoking Popes - April 30 - Riviera Theatre (my review)

Smashing Pumpkins w/ Marilyn Manson - August 7 - FirstMerit Bank Pavilion (my review)

Van Halen w/ Kenny Wayne Shepherd - July 24 - Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, Tinley Park (my review)

Rush - June 12 - United Center (my review)

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - May 29 - Riviera Theatre (my review)

Paul Weller - June 17 - The Vic (my review)

Judas Priest w/ Saxon - May 21 - Rosemont Theatre (my review)

Garbage - October 17 - Riviera Theatre (my review)

Chicago - August 23 - Ravinia, Highland Park (my review)

(You may wish to also see my recent ranking of the 25 Best Live Rock Acts, currently, but regardless of concerts this year)

Classical and Jazz
It's probably not idyllic to shoehorn them into this piece, but I saw a few stellar Classical and Jazz concerts in 2015 that I wanted to cite, but not enough for their own post. From a total of 10 performances seen, I'll highlight 3 in each genre, without ranking them. (A few concerts bridged both musical forms.)

- Lang Lang in Recital - May 9 - Civic Opera House (my review)
- Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven's 5th Symphony - February 8 (my review)
(same piece also performed impressively by the NEIU Student Orchestra around the same time)
- Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax - September 9 - Ravinia
- Orbert Davis' Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra featuring Trio Globo - April 24 
  - North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, Skokie (my review)
- Trio 3 (jazz combo) - March 27 - Village Vanguard, New York
- McCoy Tyner Trio, Geri Allen, Danilo Pérez - December 4 - Symphony Center (my review)

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