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)
I would also support the nomination of NRBQ as one of the best live bands ever. I saw them in early-80's when I was into rock and bluegrass but did not have the roots music appreciation that I have now so I may not have enjoyed them as much as I would now. As I recall the music press trumpeted the group as best live show also.
Seldom Scene at Art Center in Chapel Hill last night. I have found from experience that the best live show surprises come when you have your expectations low and DO NOT go with your gut feeling about an upcoming show. When my sis invited me over, I was convinced it was to be a waste of time as no group could replace 70's and 80's version of this progressive bluegrass group, even though the new guys were established veterans. I WAS WRONG. From instrumentation, vocals, stage presence angles this group was up to the task. Maybe the best bluegrass harmonies I have ever heard, with Dudley Connell, Lou Reid, and Fred Travers and some bass vocal backup by Ronnie Simpkins.
Roughly half of the songs came from their soon-to-be-released CD that mostly has Seldom Scene favorites going back to early-70's. The audience of mostly graybeards was very enthusiastic, with standing ovations after many individual songs, and the vibes fueled the band's performance. A lot of smiles and joking around with audience. I enjoyed how Dudley Connell handled the audience's frustration with not being able to play all requests. He said the back catalog was so extensive that band was still learning some of the old songs and that requests would help band target which songs they should learn for future performances. Deft job of keeping audience happy.
BTW, seeing the show, after ignoring my gut instinct, saves me from posting on the "Shows I Regret Missing" discussion.
Well... seeing a poster on sale last night for this concert over at Wolgang's Vault site reminded me what a life-changing experience it was to see Jimi Hendrix for his first show ever at the Fillmore East. It was my first time there as well, first time at a dedicated rock performance space as opposed to an arena or theatre, so the combination of the 2 made it unforgettable to a teenager.
His first album had just been released & I saw & heard him do things I had never even imagined possible, stunning. Saw him several times after but you never forget the first time.
Oh, and the opening act wasn't even mentioned on the poster, a band that had been playing down the street at a smaller club/disco that summer & had just released a record... let' see it was... oh yeah, they were called Sly & The Family Stone.
Pretty decent show for $3.50
I second the nomination of Alejandro Escovedo. I got to meet him recently at a local outdoor festival. Super nice quiet guy who roars like a lion on stage. Stunning 90 minute performance with the same band and many of the same songs as this video
His music is called "hard to characterize" by music press. Some say roots rock, others use "alt. country". His current sets are pretty much straight rock out of the early-80's Graham Parker and the Rumour pub/punk rock mold. Most songs were from his pen, though he did great job on Neil Youngs's "Like a Hurricane" and "Beast of Burden". I believe guitarist is Jon Sanchez. Bobby Daniel on bass and Matt Strmiska on drums kept the crowd hopping. Alejandro is an engaging personality on stage with plenty of life stories. The whole band deserves a ranking up there with Dave Alvin & Guilty Ones, Los Lobos, etc.
Here are some thoughts from another concert goer.
I saw Johnny Clegg myself again on 4/30/14 at a fairly small club in Seattle and he was amazing. The show I saw a couple of years ago at a huge outdoor concert venue was great but seeing him in this intimate venue was spectacular. A highlight was some mini-lectures he gave about some of the songs and their sources and also talking about Nelson Mandela who he clearly loved. It became apparent that Clegg is also an anthropology professor. His son, Jesse Clegg, opened an acoustic set of his own songs. He's good but no match for his ole man and his great band. Although it was mostly a pretty old crowd he had people dancing in the aisles. Before the show the people sitting next to us said they had also been at that outdoor concert a couple of years earlier and declared that after going to concerts together for over 40 years that was the best show they'd ever seen. Seems to be a common reaction to this man and his great, inspirational and make-you-wanna-dance music.
I'll have to second the nomination of Robert Earl Keen. He comes through our area a couple of times a year and the club is a mile from my house but I have passed on each show out of respect for his LIVE #2 DINNER album, one of my top 20 live cd's. Finally, a roots music friend encouraged me to go anyway. She was right. Very lively show with an adoring audience singing most of the words, even to the more obscure songs, and not shouting requests for his party songs. He and the band go for about 1 hour and 45 minutes without a break and without much talk. Short break and then 10 minute encore. Absolutely cooking band, just slightly below the LIVE #2 DINNER experience (best honky tonk band I have ever heard). While his studio versions of his songs are ok., the live band setting greatly enhances the songs. Fortunately the sound not too loud and the club did a good job on vocal mics.