For a few months now I have been going back and forth on a column about live concerts and a different one about best live songs. I hadn't been clear in my mind about how to present either so I've been sitting on both. Yesterday I thought, hey, why not combine both!
Knowing how much you all love my columns with a list, here is my list of best concerts I've seen followed by the best live songs or shows I've seen on video. I hope you will check out the songs/shows I've selected and as for the concerts I've seen, I wish you could have been there.
Unranked - Back in the day I used to go with friends, and family, to local shows at places like The Wild Goose and The Holiday Inn Rolling Meadows, and others. You could see rising new talent, old groups trying to hang on, and just some guys playing at a club for fun. Among the bands I would see included Sha-Na-Na, Dave Major & The Minors, Ray Scott (formerly of the Ides of March), The Circle, and whole host of others. They were usually fun to attend, and the music was good, but they didn't make this list.
12 - Whitney Houston. Linda and I saw her when she was just starting to make it big at the Forum in Los Angeles. It might have been her all time worst performance. She was unpolished, nervous, and most likely high. She was uncomfortable interacting with the audience and on every song she would hold the final note for three minutes. It was annoying, disappointing, and we should have demanded our money back.
11 - Harry Chapin. Picture yourself at the Aire Crown Theater in Chicago to see Cheech and Chong perform and for their opening act they bring out Harry Chapin. Who thought that crowd was going to want to hear Chapin play? While I enjoyed his show, I felt bad for him as he was heckled for 40 minutes by 12,000 stoned college kids.
10 - Sheena Easton. I saw her headline in Las Vegas at what was then the Las Vegas Hilton, home of Elvis Presley for years. She was fun, entertaining, and in good voice and all in all it was a pretty good show. What made it even better was the fact that I won $1000 before and $1000 after the show at video poker at the circle bar to come home a winner from Vegas for once in my life.
9 - Jethro Tull. So, technically I didn't really see this show. I was a bit over medicated with alcohol and chemicals. I was told I went there and returned to my dorm room, and I vaguely remember bits and pieces, but I am a huge Tull fan so I'm pretty sure I enjoyed it a lot.
8 - John Prine & Steve Goodman. When my friend, Rick Franz, and I saw them, along with another singer whom I can't remember, at the Earl of Old Town, our seats literally allowed us to put our feet up on the stage. They were charming, engaging, and wrote some unbelievable songs that they shared for two hours. A great night for sure.
7 - The Moody Blues & Cheap Trick. Linda and I saw them at the Allstate Arena as winners of free tickets from a local Chicago radio stations, anniversary show. They played all their hits and it was a wonderful show put on by two rock legendary bands. As Linda surveyed the crowd preshow, she commented to me, "why are all these old people here? I looked at her and said, those old people are us, they're our age." Wha-Wha.
6- Bob Seger. During Spring break 1973, Jeff Beebe and I went down to see out friend Tim Vincent who had recently moved to the Ft. Lauderdale area with his family. We decided, one night, to go to a local drive-in theater to see a twofer of Woodstock and Monterrey Pops. Much to our surprise in between shows Bob Seger and his band are there performing for the crowd. It was magical, fantastic, and memorable. What a great surprise and what a great show.
5 - The Temptations along with Gloria Gaynor. The Golf Mill theater was rocking to the sounds of Motown. Gloria Gaynor opened the show and was awesome, but when the Temptations came on stage, it became a night to remember. Great songs, great dancing, a complete show by professionals who knew what they are doing. What a night.
4 - Chicago. My very first concert ever was Thanksgiving night at the Aire Crown Theater to see Chicago. I had no idea what to expect and I was not disappointed. They were fantastic that night, and the crowd was in love with them. The whole show was a sensory overload and to say I was impressed would be an understatement.
3 - Heart. I'm working for this radio station in Dundee, IL, as a sales manager/play-by-play football and basketball announcer/weekend host of a Swedish label infomercial, when the station manager tells me that we are co-sponsors for this concert in Rockford featuring some band he never heard of. He tells me that I'm the station representative and that I need to get there early because I'm going to be the MC for the show. I got the meet the band backstage before and after the show and asked the fine folks of Rockford to "Give a warm Rockford welcome to - Heart!" I know. I still can't believe it myself.
2 - Tina Turner featuring Lionel Ritchie. My friend John Markiewicz wife, Patti, (to be clear, Patti is my friend too) calls me one night and asks if I would be interested in main floor seats to see Tina Turner at the Allstate Arena. Um, yes please. As you will see shortly, there has only been one other concert that I've attended that was better than this one. I would have been happy after Lionel Ritchie finished his show and would have called it tremendous, but then Tina Turner took the stage and the night became one that I will always remember. She was just a superstar that night. A flawless production, a crazy fast paced show, and costumes, songs, dancing, and assorted sideshows of things going on on stage that took your breath away. Running back to the car in a downpour couldn't dampen our spirits afterwards. Thank you John and Linda for letting me and Patti have one of the nights of our lives.
1 - The Who. Eleventh row, main floor, United Center. OMG! The greatest rock and roll band of all time, me, Tom Barnicle, and Jeff Beebe, and copious amounts of alcohol and weed, made this the greatest concert I've ever attended. Here's the thing. It would have been just as good straight. They were loud, they were angry, they were at the peak of their talents, and it was a dream come true. Having been a fan of theirs for most of my life, it was a special night to actually see them in person. My ears were ringing for two days after this concert, and it was worth it. The only time in my life I regretted not doing something was this night. The girl next to Tom invited us backstage to meet the band. She claimed to be Keith Moon's girlfriend. We thought she was kidding and said no thanks. Turns out she was and we missed our chance. (Sigh)
I will probably remember a few more tomorrow, but this is my list for now. Some bad one but mostly great shows and good times.
While I did not see these myself, live and in person, I have watched them many times, and in my opinion these are seven songs/shows that you need to take the time to watch. In no particular order.
Fleetwood Mac - Tusk (The Dance) - https://youtu.be/MrRVW-p8SJ8?t=61
Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill - https://youtu.be/WeYqJxlSv-Y
Tina Turner - Proud Mary Live in 2009 - https://youtu.be/U0dPwdyiZKE
The Who - Concert for New York City - https://youtu.be/aruDK5EmAl8
Chicago & REO Speedwagon at Red Rock - https://youtu.be/fN4JgE8eEIY