Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Best of 2017: The Best Rock Concerts I Attended

Does Springsteen on Broadway count as a rock concert?

Or should the show--which features live singing by Bruce Springsteen on 15 songs across 2+ hours, with the Boss accompanying himself on guitar & piano while mixing in a prepared spoken-word memoir--find itself in my upcoming Best Musicals of 2017 list?

Or as a one-man show, perhaps it belongs in an Other Entertainment grouping, in which I'll cite opera, dance performances, etc.

Certainly, I could include it here as a concert. But while it was fantastic, the show was a far different beast than Springsteen's performances with the E Street Band, which topped my Best Concerts list in every touring year I've been compiling them (2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, as well as a 2009 Best of the Decade list).

So I'll do this (and perhaps repeat it in the Musicals category):

Special Mention

Bruce Springsteen - Springsteen on Broadway 
December 8, Walter Kerr Theatre, New York
(my review

And with that conundrum out of the way, I can move onto the otherwise challenging task of trying to differentiate between 11 other concerts (two by the same artist) to which I awarded a full @@@@@ on my Seth Saith ratings scale.

I gave 7 other shows @@@@1/2 and felt 13 others merited @@@@.

And of the 37 concerts I attended in 2017--from tribute bands in local parks and friends in small clubs to huge shows at Soldier Field & Wrigley Field, as well as, yes, Bruce Springsteen on Broadway, though I won't include that below--every one was enjoyable and worthwhile.

My Top 11 and Honorable Mentions below will only include the best of the best (@@@@1/2 & up), but other quality shows included those by old favorites such as Paul Weller, Billy Corgan and Wilco, living legends Brian Wilson, Aretha Franklin and Queen (with Adam Lambert on vocals) and a number of acts I was glad to see for a first time, including Tool, The Afghan Whigs, The Church, The Alarm and Echo & the Bunnymen (with the Violent Femmes). A very fine, if a tad brief, free show by the Drive-By Truckers at Millennium Park also deserves mention. (My reviews of virtually all of these shows should be readily found via a search, should you care that much.)

Certainly, it's quite sad that one of the artists making my list--Tom Petty--passed away later in the year, which also suffered the loss of Chris Cornell of Soundgarden (a band that always ranked high, though I didn't see them this year), several other artists I've seen in years past--Chuck Berry, Walter Becker (of Steely Dan), Malcolm Young (of AC/DC), Gord Downie (of the Tragically Hip) and Grant Hart (of Husker Du)--plus stalwarts such as Fats Domino, Gregg Allman, Chester Bennington (of Linkin Park) and Pat DiNizio (of the Smithereens).

Even artists I largely learned about via their deaths, such as Tommy Keene, Charles Bradley and Johnny Halladay, seemed like those I would've liked to have seen onstage.

So, given too the admittedly rather middling choices on My Favorite Albums of 2017 list, I can't say this was entirely a great year for music.

But in terms of the many outstanding concerts I caught, I found it to be a rather terrific one for live rock 'n roll. And as best I can recall and discern, these were:

My Favorite Rock Concerts of 2017
Artists seen multiple times ranked just once; venues in Chicago area unless noted. Co-headliners (denoted by "and") both factor into ranking; opening acts (denoted by "w/") do not.

1. Arcade Fire (w/ the Breeders) - October 30, United Center (my review) 

2. Midnight Oil - May 18, The Vic (my review)

3. U2 (w/ the Lumineers) - June 3 & 4, Soldier Field (my review) 

4. Paul McCartney - July 25, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre (my review)  

5. Metallica (w/ Avenged Sevenfold) - June 18, Soldier Field (my review)

6. Radiohead - April 5, Sprint Center, Kansas City (my review in this piece)

7. Elvis Costello & the Imposters - June 12, Huntington Bank Pavilion (my review)

8. Green Day (w/ Catfish & the Bottlemen) - August 24, Wrigley Field (my review)

9. Willie Nile (w/ Nicholas Tremulis) - March 17, SPACE (my review) 

10. Buddy Guy (w/ Corey Dennison) - January 12, Buddy Guy's Legends (my review)

11. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (w/ Chris Stapleton - June 29, Wrigley Field (my review)

Honorable Mention
(in preference order)

- Maximo Park (w/ Active Bird Community) - November 23, Lincoln Hall (my review)
- Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples - October 28, Wintrust Arena (my review)
- Blondie and Garbage (w/ Exene Cervenka & John Doe) - July 22, Ravinia (my review)
- Hall & Oates and Tears for Fears (w/ Allen Stone) - May 15, Allstate Arena (my review)
- James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt - July 17, Wrigley Field (my review)
- Barry Manilow - December 5, Allstate Arena (my review)

No comments: