A recent e-mail from my youngest brother Rob, prompted me to think about the best concerts I've ever attended. It's an eclectic grouping to be sure:
Paul Anka in the 70's. The 1970's not Paul's 70s. The singer is only 68. I love his carefree, old school, Sinatra performance style. Unlike Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett this guy actually writes his own songs. Check out his CD of rock covers titled, Rock Swings.
The Jacksons Triumph tour in the 80s. This was when the brothers were at the peak, before before Michael left the act. What am I saying? Michael was the act.
Psychedelic Furs at Center Stage in Canton, Michigan in the decadent 80s. Center Stage is long gone, as are the Furs, but I remember a great vibe in the room that night. There were no seats in the place, but I've always preferred small venues and somehow this rather average pop band (Pretty in Pink) and average venue really got to me that evening.
Billy Joel at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan sometimes in 80s. Say what you will about Joel being schmaltzy or square. He's the consumate performer. Funny, talented and armed with a battalion of great material, the younger Joel was known for delivering three-hour pop extravaganzas. I've seen the piano man perform several times over three decades and find his shows remarkably consistent, high-caliber affairs.
Squeeze at the Royal Oak Theatre with The Producers in 1982 or so. Pop heaven! Squeeze became a household name, but apparently, only in the Caruso house. Their biggest hit was the bluesy, Black Coffee in Bed.
David Bowie at the Hollywood Bowl with Pam Dunaway in around 1993. Pam was working at Spin magazine and had scored tickets and a car to the concert. There were only about 500 people at the show and we were close enough to see the pores in Bowie's skin. I remember he performed Under Pressure, which I never thought I would hear live, since Freddie Mercury had already passed. Wow!
Maynard Ferguson at Pershing High School in Detroit around 1974. By the 70s, the big band sound was a dinosaur, but us high school musicians were still interested in trumpet music. This was the first time I ever heard a big band live. My Dad, a fantastic trumpet player, took me and my brothers and my world opened up. Maynard was always a trip live. His version of MacArthur Park was always a favorite. There were only 100 people scattered throughout the dark auditorium that evening, but MF made a terrific impression on me.
Some surprising disappointments:
The Rolling Stones at Joe Louis in the mid 1990s. I walked out of their show. By this time, the band had become a parody of itself. An older, more processed parody. I remember attending the show with an extremely hot chick, so it's possible I was distracted that night.
Paul McCartney at the Palace of Auburn Hills in the 90s. It wasn't Paul's fault. I was literally sitting three rows from the top of the arena. When Paul was playing old tunes from his days with the Fab Four, I felt like I was watching a Beatles cover band. I know, Paul McCartney was a Beatle, but the music still felt inauthentic. I remain a huge McCartney fan, however.
What's the best concert you've ever attended?