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Best.Concert.Ever.

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In about two months from now, I'll probably be telling you it was Vertigo 2005. But, for now, I'll have to say... Radiohead's Hail to the Thief tour. Sure, it wasn't what one would call inspiring. And no, there weren't any of the surprises and theatrics that Jeffrey saw last night. But the musicianship on display was utterly spectacular, and, in a weird way, Radiohead's songs somehow become far more meaningful-- even comforting-- when I heard them performed live, with a whole arena full of people singing along, sharing Thom's anguish and his desperation for something better.

And I gotta say, Derek Webb put on a darn good show last week. He opened with the mose passionate rendition of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" I've ever heard, and, though he was unable to sustain the same level of intensity for the entire show, a few songs-- especially some of his new material from the upcoming Mockingbird LP, and his heartwrecnhing closing song, "Lover"-- cut me to the core.

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Howard Armstrong at the Port Townsend Blues Festival

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill at University of Washington's Meany Hall

John Pizzarelli at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley

Ralph Stanley at Wintergrass

Mandy Patinkin at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles

Kronos Quartet at Broadway Performance Hall

Mike Marshall anywhere

Best CCM concert I ever saw was Denny Correll at the Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff. And I went to a lot of CCM concerts.

- Gorecki's 3rd Symphony - at an art deco theater in Hartford, CT - powerful

Saw Gorecki himself conduct this at USC. That was cool. I also saw Penderecki conduct the Seattle Symphony.

- Brahms' German Requiem at Tanglewood

Have played this a couple of times, once in Benaroya Hall where the Seattle Symphony performs. (No, I don't play in the Seattle Symphony.)

Edited by mrmando

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- Bruce Cockburn in Northampton, MA at a small theater

- Gorecki's 3rd Symphony - at an art deco theater in Hartford, CT - powerful

- Brahms' German Requiem at Tanglewood

(I also saw/heard John Williams conduct some film music at Tanglewood - not exactly transcendent, but it was pretty cool when Chewie and Darth Vader came out on stage for the encore.)

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This is tough.

Any of the U2 shows I've been to would have to be on the list (Popmart, Elevation, Vertigo).

I saw Steve Taylor, back in the Meltdown days, perform in Cleveland just days (hours?) after breaking his leg at Cornerstone, I believe. He did the whole show from a wheelchair and burned out the battery.

Sam Phillips at a small venue in Chicago (Boot & a Shoe).

The Choir at a small church in Michigan for the Circle Slide tour.

The Cure (Wish).

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Gatemouth Brown this past February at the HOB in Cleveland. The old gentleman could barely breathe, but he put on a performance that was more alive than any I've seen in some time.

Oh, and there was a Jayhawks show in Chicago that totally rocked my socks off.

Honorable Mention: They Might Be Giants at the Vic in Chicago.

So as I get to the end of this post I return to Jeff's question: Which one's still resonating in your head and heart?

Gatemouth Brown and Sam Phillips continue to stick with me. Both performers pouring out their guts on the stage while going through tremendous personal conflicts (dying/divorce) added a somber intimacy I've never quite gotten over.

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Kiss, the Dynasty tour, 1979. They had already "jumped the shark" by releasing a disco single, but that wasnt going to stop me. Imagine: I'm ten years old, it's my first rock concert, I've been holding the tickets in my top drawer for months and dreaming of what it will be like to finally see my favorite comic book rock heroes in the flesh... They make the most dramatic stage entrance of any band ever, the stage literally explodes and King of the Night Time World kicks in it at 120 decibels.

U2, Unforgettable Fire tour 1985

Vigilantes of Love -- Fall 1998, To the Roof of the Sky tour, JJ's Cafe in Nashville... On one chilly southern evening, Bill and the best incarnation of VOL did two back to back, 90 min sets in the cramped cafe. During the second set Bill sweated, howled, smacked himself silly, dropped to his knees repeatedly-- all the usual antics. Every bit of it was sincere and arching with raw energy. Probably my favorite rock n' roll show ever.

Phish, New Years Eve 2003.

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Not being much of a concert-goer I can't say that I have many concerts from which to choose, so I'll say that seeing Al Stewart last month at Club Passim in Cambridge MA was my BCE, or at least my best one since seeing Vaesen and JPP combine at the Ann Arbor Ark several years ago.

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Rich Mullins on the Fourth of July at Cornerstone the year before he died.

There was a deaf woman and her interpreting friend next to me at the show. Early on we began chatting and the hearing woman discovered that I knew most, if not all, of Rich's song lyrics. All through the evening I was able to relate to her the lyrics as she signed them for her friend. It was beautiful.

Then there were the fireworks walking back to our campsite. First and only time at Cornerstone.

Saw INXS in a club venue, as compared to an arena. That was a sweet concert.

Saw Cocteau Twins at the same venue some time later, and they are always a treat.

Numerous Christian Rock acts when I was an acquaintance with a promoter and agreed to shoot footage for him. Free concerts are always fun, especially when I can go backstage and interview the likes of Leigh Nash, Jason and Ronnie Martin (together!), Sydney of Morella's Forest.... Man that was such a lifetime ago!

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The Cure, Wish!!! Yesiree, tctruffin, that was a fantastic show. I expected a goth and gloom dirge. I got the happiest party show of my life.

Bruce Cockburn, Charity of Night tour.

Steve Taylor, I Predict 1990 tour. Front row.

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Answer the question people!!

"Best. Concert. Ever."

Good grief, we can all read can't we? Does that sound like an invitation to write a long list of concerts ranging from the really-quite-special to the not-bad-at-all?!

No!

Does it suggest you make public your whole tortured process of choosing?

No!

Ok, possibly it does. A bit.

But still, choose, people, choose!

Rich Mullins on the Fourth of July at Cornerstone the year before he died.

It's sounding promising...

Saw INXS in a club venue, as compared to an arena. That was a sweet concert.

I'm sure it was, yes...

Saw Cocteau Twins at the same venue some time later, and they are always a treat.

Good for you...

Numerous Christian Rock acts when I was an acquaintance with a promoter and agreed to shoot footage for him. Free concerts are always fun

But where does this leave us?! Mmm? Awash in a sea of undecideability, that's where. I've had enough of that in my Derrida dissertation, thankyou very much, I want nice simple answers, underlined in red, if possible.

It gets worse the further back you go:

Not being much of a concert-goer I can't say that I have many concerts from which to choose

Then this should be a breeze for you, a walk in the park....

so I'll say that seeing Al Stewart last month at Club Passim in Cambridge MA was my BCE...

Ahhh. Finally, something resembling a decision...

or at least my best one since seeing Vaesen and JPP combine at the Ann Arbor Ark several years ago.

....Nooooooooo! He said "or"!

wink.gif

So anyway, my best ever concert, as voted for by myself, without overly elabourating on the details (but let me just tell you, without revealing any names, that it was a very close call indeed, and a horrible choice to make, with strong contenders from some very well respected artists, and an ultimate tussle between an old classic and a new favourite) is..

Sigur Ros, Hammersmith Apollo, London, February 2003.

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Hey, I didn't even think I was going to post an answer. Then it just snowballed. So sue me for tripping over memory lane!

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Tough call, but just yesterday, listening to the latest Indigo Girls album -- which repeated listens of has convinced me is their best since their major-label debut -- I was thinking of their show at the old 9:30 club in Washington, D.C.

Great memory, but it

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Rules be damned. I can't pick one. My tastes have changed so much over the years. I used to attend mostly big-name concerts at massive venues. Now, if I can't look the performer in the eye, I'd rather stay at home and listen to the CD. Must be getting old.

Best arena show: Rush -- Hold Your Fire Tour (fall '87) at the Capital Center -- My first real concert. I'd been dreaming of that moment since I was eight years old and bought my copy of Moving Pictures on vinyl.

Best stadium show: Pink Floyd -- Delicate Sound of Thunder Tour (spring '88) at RFK -- I was down on the field, about 40 rows back from the stage. The lights, man. Look at the lights!

Best "Jam Band" show: Widespread Panic -- Everyday Tour (summer '93) at the now-demolished Hammerjack's in Baltimore -- I'd just turned 21, got to the show early, stepped up to the bar, and sat down beside John Bell (the lead singer), who bought me a beer. Ah, the days of dancing and patchouli stink.

Best small club show: Pernice Brothers -- Yours, Mine, and Ours Tour (fall '03) at the Pilot Light in Knoxville -- The Pernice Brothers playing to less than 100 people in a room smaller than my basement. Pop nirvana.

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The show that I remember most is Burlap to Cashmere on their very first tour, playing a little club in St. Louis in 1999. They were touring with a six-piece band then, and they had a guy on acoustic guitar that was just amazing, strumming that thing like his life depended on it. The whole band was rocking out on acoustic guitars harder than any other band I've seen on electrics. When they stripped down to a four-piece band later in their career, it was never the same.

Other shows I'll give an honorable mention to:

- Bruce Cockburn, Big Circumstance tour, '89. It was my first experience breaking out of the Christian rock ghetto. He played for three hours, and I loved every moment.

- Adam Again, the late night stage at Cornerstone '91. It forever impressed on me the greatness of this band. RIP Gene Eugene

- Prayer Chain at Inner Seeds Festival, Atlanta, '93. In the middle of the tent they had a bonfire going during the show and people from the audience were dancing around it. Really cool!

- Over The Rhine, Ohio tour, 2003. But you already knew what a great tour that was.

- The Alarm, Cornerstone 2004. Rock and roll the way it was meant to be!

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It's impossible for me to pick just one...

Arcade Fire - November 2004 - Everything Jeffrey said.

Lift To Experience - June 2002 - I can't tell you how powerful this band's songs were for me, as I went through a pretty dark time in my life. Also, one of the loudest shows I've ever seen - by the end of the set, I think the soundwaves had moved me several feet to the left. Later, the band crashed at my house and I stayed up to 4:30 talking with the lead singer about C.S. Lewis, Arvo Part, Cornerstone, and Palm Pilots.

Pedro The Lion - Cornerstone 1999 - This was the release show for It's Hard To Find A Friend. Perhaps one of the most emotional and gutwrenching shows I've ever seen. Every word Bazan sang cut me to the quick, leaving me sobbing like a little child.

SS Bountyhunter - Cornerstone 2000 - For sheer spectacle, nothing beats this. It looked like a deleted scene from Reservoir Dogs, complete with a crazy psychedelic soundtrack, Secret Service agents, a body bag, and a big Mexican dude whirling numchucks. Frankly, I'm surprised JPUSE let them back the following year.

Ester Drang - Cornerstone 2000 - I've seen the Drang several times, and they've all been good, but this show was something else. Afterwards, people looked like a bomb had gone off in the middle of the tent. One of those shows where afterwards, you had to go off by yourself and reflect on what you just experienced.

Woven Hand - Cornerstone 2003 - The last show I saw that year, and absolutely riveting.

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It has fireworks!

Well, I am certainly glad that a Brit can appreciate that! wink.gif

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I would never call this the "best concert ever", per se, but one of the concerts I enjoyed more than any other was when Daniel Amos played Cornerstone in 2000. I had been a fan of the band since the mid-'80s, but in all that time they had never come to Vancouver, and I think they had even played their last concert in '93; certainly they had not released any new studio albums since '95. So this was sort of a reunion gig -- and because they weren't plugging any new albums, their set list was free to roam ALL OVER their repertoire. It was a long wait, but it was worth it.

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Yes, that Daniel Amos show was wonderful! Thanks for reminding me, I'll have to add it to my list. I've got the live CD that M8 records made of the show, as well as some of the other live recordings from Cornerstone 2000.

Edited by Crow

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Yes, that Daniel Amos show was wonderful!  Thanks for reminding me.

So you, Peter, and I were all at that show, but none of us knew each other then ... Scary. Anyone else?

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Keeping with the Daniel Amos theme, but avoiding the lists that stu dreads, I offer instead a three-way tie: :-)

Daniel Amos/Randy Stonehill -- Columbus, Ohio, November, 1981 -- I don't remember much about the concert. I know Daniel Amos played "New Car" and pissed off a bunch of local Bible college kids, who left in a huff over the apparent use of ungodly satire. What I mostly remember is meeting my wife for the first time, who turned out to be a big fan of Daniel Amos, satire, and (later) me.

Bruce Springsteen -- Athens, Ohio, April, 1974 -- This was the best of all possible Broooooce worlds. He had already written and was performing many of the songs from Born to Run, but the album had not yet been released, so nobody had ever heard of Bruce. So I and about 75 other people got Bruce and his 3.5 hour version of impeccably manic rock 'n roll and mythic storytelling in a tiny club in a college town.

Mark Heard/Sam Phillips/Bruce Cockburn -- Cincinnati, Ohio, August, 1991 -- God only knows what heavenly forces were at work to bring about this triune perfection, but perfection it was. Mark Heard opened with a few songs from Second Hand and the still unreleased Satellite Sky, and then played guitar for Sam, who was touring in support of Cruel Inventions. Cockburn played songs from the still unreleased Nothing But a Burning Light, and a smattering of his older songs. Mark Heard's dad was dying, and I remember he talked about that. Nobody knew then, of course, that in less than a year Mark would be gone, too. It was a sad and beautiful evening. I'll never forget it.

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What a question. This thread inspires a book. If I ever had a chance to see Gorecki direct his own 3rd, I am sure that would be at the top.

Otherwise, out of all the many shows, the time Stef bought me a ticket for Skinny Puppy's last tour is far and away the best live show I have ever seen, no contest. Out of hundreds of shows, this one keeps creeping to the top as an incomparable experience. It is one of the shows I would wish to re-experience. Other than that, I once heard the Dead do a 20 minute version of Strawberry Fields that morphed into Uncle John's Band somewhere along the way. That was pretty nifty. This thread also brings to mind a My Bloody Valentine show I saw when I was quite young.

That Wish tour is also a good memory. And Stef once played in my hotel room, I have always been thankful for that.

Edited by MLeary

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If I ever had a chance to see Gorecki direct his own 3rd, I am sure that would be at the top.

I remember him not having a lot of grace or poise as a conductor ... he's a heavyset fellow with short, thick arms, and he conducted like a man trying to claw his way out of a muddy pit. The beauty of the piece is the long, slow buildup of tension and emotion, and Gorecki didn't so much conduct this as embody it, getting more and more frantic and clawing more and more vehemently as the phrases went on and the anguish piled up. One wasn't sure if he would make it through the piece without collapsing. Learning to read different conductors' styles is one of the most difficult things about playing in an orchestra, and I really have to hand it to the USC Symphony, who were right with him all the way. I don't remember much about the texts, although I'm pretty sure the translations were in the program, and I forget the soprano's name, but she was radiant.

After the show, Gorecki was all smiles and handshakes and hugs for any orchestra member within striking distance. Charming guy.

Edited by mrmando

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::Andrew! We have another connection--why were you in Northampton? Was it at the Iron Horse Cafe?

No, not the Iron Horse, but very close. The concert was at the Calvin Theatre. This was back when I lived in Hartford, CT, so Northampton was the closest funky college town, with 3 good concert venues all in walking distance (Emmylou Harris was coming to town the following day, IIRC).

So, what's your connection to Northampton?

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