Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Ours Go to 11: Volume 38, Coolest Concerts Attended

In my previous post--inspired by the coronavirus pandemic precluding my seeing the Chicago Cubs play the St. Louis Cardinals in London, as I was scheduled to--I compiled a list of the most Notable Games I have attended.

Initially I was intending to cover Regular Season and Postseason/Exhibition games in separate lists within the same post.

But recollecting, researching and writing about just the Regular Season games of note wound up taking up a full afternoon.

So I promised to cover Playoff Games in a subsequent post.

Ostensibly, that would be this one.

But today, June 17, is a date that stands out in my mind for some memorable concerts I've attended.

So it seems apropos to do this:

The Most Memorable Rock Concerts I've Been To 
These shouldn't be construed as "the best" concerts, and while I'll include plenty of Bruce Springsteen, I won't let him fill the Top 11, even though he easily could. (This includes leaving out Springsteen on Broadway.)

1. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - June 17, 2000 - Madison Square Garden, New York
The Boss is my favorite; I don't think there's ever been a better live rock performer. To date, I've seen him 50 times, including 10 shows on his 1999-00 reunion tour with the E Street Band. This one was amid a tour ending 10-show soldout run at the world's most famous arena. Via the on-sale, I was able to snag a ticket in the 10th row center (over-the-phone from Chicago). And the show was as great as I could've hoped.

2. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - June 15, 2013 - Wembley Stadium, London
I've seen Bruce many other cool places, some noted below and also the now-demolished Giants Stadium in New Jersey, where I attended 7 shows across 3 tours. But seeing him at Wembley, in London, on an European jaunt, was extra special.

3. Nirvana - October 25, 1993 - Aragon Ballroom, Chicago
During the concert, Kurt Cobain opined that the sound sucked. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" went unplayed. And in a post-show interview with Rolling Stone's David Fricke, Kurt said, "I’m really glad you could make it for the shittiest show on the tour." Still, though my memory isn't great, I can acutely remember being absolutely blown away.

4. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - June 17, 1981 - Rosemont Horizon, near Chicago
My first concert attended of my own volition. The Loop radio station presented it as a "Free Show" and I was able to get a pair of tickets by waiting at Flip Side at Lincoln Village mall. Being only 12, I had to be accompanied to the show by my dad. We didn't always get along, but this was a cherished memory.

5. David Bowie - May 25, 1990 - Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
In March 1990, at the age of 21, I moved from the Chicago area to Los Angeles, settling in the poorer section of Encino in the San Fernando Valley. After having missed out on seeing him in Chicago in 1983 and 1987, I made a point of seeing the "Thin White Duke" at Dodger Stadium. It was my first show in LA, and one I went to by myself. Can't say I recall all that much, but have never forgotten Bowie opening with "Space Oddity."

6. U2 - April 29, 1987 - Rosemont Horizon
Technically, this wasn't my first time seeing U2 live; note #11 below, the previous year. But during my freshman year at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, U2 had become--with the release of The Joshua Tree--"Rock's Hottest Ticket" as proclaimed on a TIME magazine cover. With just one show at the Horizon, getting tix seemed daunting, but via the Jam (Productions) Ticket Club, I got two choice seats on the floor.

7. The Rolling Stones - September 16, 2002 - Aragon Ballroom
As with most of the artists on this list and many others, I've seen the Stones a bunch of times. But just by simple luck I was able to buy, for $50 each, tickets when they opted to do an intimate show at the Aragon among bigger Chicago venues as well. The setlist was actually a tad esoteric, so it isn't the "best" Stones show I've seen. But it was quite cool, and Bono even showed up onstage to duet on "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)."

8. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - September 7 & 8 - Wrigley Field, Chicago
My favorite artist at my favorite place in the world, twice. 6-1/2 hours of sheer joy. I even touched the Boss on Night 2, which isn't as creepy as it sounds.

9. Pearl Jam - July 9, 1995 - Marcus Amphitheater, Summerfest, Milwaukee
At the height of their popularity, Pearl Jam scrapped most of its tour due to refusing to play venues with tickets sold through Ticketmaster (with hefty surcharges). But they played Chicago's Soldier Field (should've gone but didn't) and two gigs as part of Summerfest. I went to the latter.

10. Paul McCartney - June 8, 2019 - Lambeau Field, Green Bay
I've seen the great Beatle many cool places--Wrigley Field, Le Bercy arena in Paris, Miller Park Milwaukee, Busch Stadium St. Louis, in Tulsa, OK and more--but even for a devoted Chicago Bears fan, there was something special about being on the tundra of the Green Bay Packers home stadium. And still playing nearly 3 hours, Sir Paul was awesome. 

11. Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope tour featuring U2, The Police, Peter Gabriel, Bryan Adams, Lou Reed and Robin Williams - June 13, 1986 - Rosemont Horizon
A remarkable lineup, and my first time seeing any of the performers. U2 was incredible; The Police, who had reunited for the tour and were terrific, still shouldn't have followed them as the closing act.

Some others

- Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco) with student musicians - March 21, 2009 - Private residence. A close friend's family hosted a special benefit performance. 
- Foo Fighters - March 29, 1996 - Riviera Theatre, Chicago. My first Foo.
- Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band - July 17, 1984 - Rosemont Horizon. First-time seeing Bruce live; life-changing.
- The Smashing Pumpkins - April 10, 1999 - St. Andrews Hall, Detroit. "The Arising" tour briefly reunited the original Pumpkins for the last time. There was no Chicago show, so I went to Detroit for a small club gig. Would see a bunch of shows the next year on the then-final tour, including in Paris.
- R.E.M. - October 21, 1986 - Chick Evans Field House, NIU, DeKalb, IL. Early in my freshman year; I got up to the first row. It made me a fan for life.
- Radiohead - August 15, 2003 - Parc Jean Drapeau, Montreal. A Canadian air travel blackout on the day of the show forced me to fly to Burlington, Vermont, take a bus, find my hotel and take the subway to reach the show at a huge park on an island. I think I missed two songs.
- Vote for Change Tour - Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, R.E.M., Bright Eyes - October 3, 2004 - Cobo Hall, Detroit. After seeing Pearl Jam at a VFC show the night before in Toledo, where Neil Young showed up, I caught two more of my all-time favorites in Detroit. No Neil, but John Fogerty and the Dixie Chicks made appearances.
- Aretha Franklin - September 3, 2017 - Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL. The legendary Queen of Soul was really terrific in her last Chicago appearance, my only time seeing her.
- Robert Plant - October 2, 2014 - Riviera Theatre, Chicago. I love Led Zeppelin and have seen Plant many times, including twice with Jimmy Page. But there was something just goose-bumpnig and mind-blowing about this particular gig.
- Material Issue - May 7, 1991 - Palomino Club, North Hollywood, CA. Living in L.A., I caught wind of this Chicago trio getting buzz from their debut album and went to see them at a long-famed country music venue. In 1994 I was back in the Chicago burbs and went to a Material Issue CD signing, where I mentioned having seen them at the Palomino, which seemed to impress them. Sadly, singer/songwriter Jim Ellison took his life just a couple years later.

And also...

- Stereophonics - December 11, 2003 - Cubby Bear. Hung out with the band afterward.
- AC/DC - Various - Always awesome
- Arcade Fire - Various - Likewise
- Buddy Guy - Several times - Buddy Guy's Legends
- Zwan - April 12, 13, 2002 - Double Door. Sheer joy in hearing new material ahead of the album.
- Midnight Oil - October 23, 2001 - The Rave. First time seeing a legendary band I long loved, in a small venue.
- The Who - July 21, 1989 - Alpine Valley, WI. My first-time seeing The Who was almost scrapped when a friend bailed, but my mom accompanied me. She would do so again for the Rolling Stones a few months later. 
- Coldplay - March 12, 2003 - Eagles Ballroom, Milwaukee. A relatively intimate setting for how big they had already become, and the band was fantastic. Would then go see them at the Hollywood Bowl a couple months later and not be nearly as impressed.
- Stevie Wonder - June 28, 2008 - Petrillo Bandshell / Taste of Chicago. Just a "Wonder"ful communal vibe, especially when the entire lawn did the "electric slide."
- Soundgarden - January 29, 2013 - Riviera Theatre. As with the other times I saw them, they were bone-crushingly phenomenal.

There are dozens of other shows that I could easily have included here, so no slight meant to any artists, shows, venues or individuals with whom I may have attended.

1 comment:

Hemingway1955 said...

Agree about Buddy Guy. A true legend. Hopefully we'll be able to dream about the best 11 in the future.