Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Favorite Concerts

(Full House is your pick for "worst sitcom ever". Thanks for voting.)

I have been fortunate enough to see a good bit of live music. Everything from Celtic to Classical to Ted Nugent! That was an experience, right T-Mac? Anyway here is the short list of my five favorite live shows. There are a couple I should give an honorable mention to first because they were also very cool.

First off I got to see Phish at Jazzfest in New Orleans 1996, or rather I heard them, because I couldn't really see over the sea of hippies in front of me. I would classify that as one of the most interesting concert-going experiences, but not the best, being so far removed and NOT doing any hallucinogenics. Plus I was a new fan of theirs so I only recognized maybe two songs before the encore- which was The Beatles ' A Day In The Life and that was fantastic!

I also really enjoyed seeing The Shins live because I like so many of their songs I just belted them out like a madman.

But my absolute favorite were these 5.......

Wynton Marsalis- MUW Columbus, MS early 90s

This is the only live jazz show I've ever seen and it was incredible. Besides Wynton himself what I remember most was the drummer who was this nearly anorexic looking little black guy who was killing that drum set. I've been into jazz ever since.

My Morning Jacket- Red Rocks 2008

I got to see My Morning Jacket open for Bob Dylan at Red Rocks about a year before and thought they were the perfect live act for that venue. Unfortunately our seats were a bit high and it was windy so that cut down on the listening experience for sure, plus it was an abbreviated set since they were the opener. When I got to see them headline we had decent seats and the weather was nice. I thought they were amazing. Jim James is not only a great singer but an intense showman wearing his cape James Brown-like when he's really "feelin' it". Musically they are obviously talented and like I said the perfect act for Red Rocks.

B.B. King- Bayfest, Mobile, AL 1999

I've seen B.B. twice now. The second show was a Father's Day gift from my wife and we saw him, Robert Cray, and Kenny Wayne Shephard at Fiddler's Green. That was also a great show even though The King of the Blues stays seated because that's what you do when you're over 80.

The first time I saw B.B. King was a surreal experience. I parked for free downtown (because it was so far away) and walked toward the show expecting to pay the full festival price to get in. I could hear Robert Cray playing the whole time and hoped I would be able to catch some of his act (which I didn't). When I walked up to the gate a woman I knew from work was standing there. She reached out and handed me a ticket, turned and went back through the gate like she had been waiting for me! I still don't believe it.

The concert itself was like segregation reversed, all of the black folks were seated, all of the white folks, "johnny-come-latelies", stood in the aisles. B.B. is one of those original old-school showmen. He puts on a concert the old-fashioned way. That is, his band, who are awesome, play for a good ten minutes warming up the crowd, just jamming. Then of course they pump up the crowd with a pep rally-like introduction of "the world's greatest blues singer". He enters to raucous applause. He stood for the opening song and then sat the rest of the way but his guitar playing had not lost anything. I almost cried at one point while he was soloing. It was that good. And the best part- it was FREE!

The Decemberists The Fillmore, Denver,CO 2007

This was the most fun show I've ever seen. The energy, the comedy, the music, all top notch. Colin Meloy really enjoys his job and makes the rest of us enjoy it too. As a bonus My Brightest Diamond opened up for them and it happened to be lead singer Shara Whorden's birthday. Then she sang backup for The Decemberists on a couple of songs. If you haven't ever seen these guys I suggest checking them out. There's no way you won't have a great time.

U2- Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA 2001
Pepsi Center, Denver, CO 2005

I can't decide which show I like more. The first one had an amazing set and I could see Bono from up high playing puppetmaster to tens of thousands. The second show we were on the floor about 20 yards from the oval walkway so we could see them up close and they did some stuff from Boy which was awesome. The only drawback to the second show was how mouthy Bono was. He was laying on the extra-curricular "save the world" stuff pretty thick. I just want to hear good music. Either way they put on the greatest show on earth. I can't think of any other band (besides Radiohead) I would rather see that I haven't seen. And I get to see them again in October! Can't wait!

(John Wayne is the "manliest man in movie history" on the latest poll)

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