Last night I saw the best concert I've ever seen, and I've seen lots of them, starting with Bobby Rydell at the local National Guard Armory in 1963. In between that and last night I saw Henrix, Stephen Stills, Cat Stevens, Janis Joplin and many more.
But last night we went to a small outdoor concert in Albuquerque to see Johnny Clegg, and I was absolutely overwhelmed by the entire show, clapping my hands off for an encore and feeling swept away by his music, his awesome band and the incredible songs themselves.
So, Johnny Clegg now ranks as the best I've ever seen live. Who would you put in that category? (and, if you will, take a few minutes and check him out. I think you'll be amazed)
An impossible but fun question, but the live shows I've enjoyed the most, the ones that left me shaking my head in disbelief they were so good have been...
Los Lobos - repeatedly since first seeing them in the mid-80's at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Long before La Bamba was a hit for them, they were playing that same arrangement live and it absolutely sent the crowd into the next gear every time
Dave Alvin - I'd bet I've seen Dave live 40 times including his first solo tour in '87 and there've been many magical shows along the way
Pat McLaughlin - stunning live, his New Year's Eve show at Fitzgerald's, Berwyn IL, a few years back was a standout night and he delivers those with regularity
The Mekons - a show at Fitzgerald's about 5-6 years ago was mind blowing, as good as live rock can get (Langford, bless him, is amazing, the Waco Brothers on any given night might be the best rock n roll band going)
The Skeletons - one of my all time favorite live bands...am thinking of a show in the late 90's at the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis. The show was white hot with the odd twist of a minor flood in the room caused by a back up in a condensation line to one of the refrigeration units.
Neil Young - at the Allstate Arena in Chicago about two years ago. Full band, full steam ahead from the opening note. Dr. John opened, a great plus.
Alejandro Escovedo - at Off Broadway in St. Louis, late 90's, small, mostly acoustic lineup...as he so often does he had the room spellbound...first time I heard Castanets, what a great garage rock riff to that tune.
The Blasters - 2002 at the House of Blues Sunset Strip in LA - one of the original lineup's reunion shows in support of the newly released anthology
The (Real) Monsters of Folk - Chris Smither, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Tom Russell, Dave Alvin at Off Broadway, St. Louis, 1997 I believe...loud, stormy night outside, terrible thunderstorms but what great sounds inside
Saw the same show @ Fitzgeralds in berwyn, IL. My first introduction to Chris Smithers. Wonderful evening!
You've got some damn good ones Jack. I heard Dave Alvin is the real deal live.
Like Jack says , it's a hard one to narrow down , but i'll have a bash :
3/ Neil Young (with Booker T & The MG's), early 90's , Glasgow UK . A superb set with Neil doing stuff from all of his career .
He played electric , acoustic , piano you name it , covered the lot , outstanding . The next time i saw him was a total yawnfest with Crazy Horse , every song turned into an interminable jam .
2/ Ryan Adams & Band . I forget what his backing band were being billed as at the time but it was on the Gold tour . In Glasgow they turned in a 3 and a half hour set of high octane rocknroll and country wich had the place in ecstasy . He's never been better and i've seen him a few times.
1/ Brian Wilson . As a major fan i never thought i'd see the great man live but in 2002 (?) Pet Sounds Tour , it happened , in Glasgow and i'll be honest , a tear or two was shed , so beautiful . But that wasn't the gig . 6 months later Brian and his superb band returned to Scotland , this time to Edinburgh and that was the best concert i've ever been to in my life . They were on top form , honed by an extra half year on the road and it was totally sublime . don't think it will ever get better than this one but you live in hope eh ?
PS Special mention to a recent fave Band Of Horses , this lot are really hitting their stride and are amazing live , a modern take on The Band i'd venture............
Arthur Lee with Love @ Brighton Concorde 2002
Peter Case @ Windor Arts Centre 2002
I envy you seeing Arthur Lee & Love 2002.
A definite contender, if not winner
The very show , i am reliving it as i type this , Thanks A Million Buddy !!!!!!!
And have sent the link to my 3 pardners in crime on the night !
I missed Neil Young when he came through town around 2000 or so and it was one of my biggest life regrets. He didn't bring a band. I'll content myself that it was one of the bad concerts and not one of the really good ones.
Ryan Adams is so good, but that guy must be a real wastral because people just don't like to work with him. Undeniable talent. Undeniable temper.
I can't believe you saw Brian Wilson. I didn't even know he did shows. I saw a bit of footage when they were trying to talk about getting back together and he seemed so pushed around by another member of the band (who will remain nameless) it was hard to watch. Saw him on Jools in UK and he sang "Love and Mercy". I'm like you...he brings tears to my eyes. I bought 'Smile'.
I was living in Sydney in the mid eighties and won a competition on Radio to go onto a little island in Sydney harbour to see Midnight Oil live. I agree, they were amazing in concert, total dedication!