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John Simkin

Greatest Live Performance

26 posts in this topic

I thought it might be a good idea to write about the greatest live concerts you have attended.

Over the years I have seen a large number of the great names in music perform live. The first great performance I saw was that of Roy Orbison. I had gone to see a new up and coming band called the Beatles (they were just about to have their first record, Love Me Do, released. The Beatles were at the bottom of the bill and were supporting Orbison, a singer who I did not know anything about. Orbison completely lacked charisma and was one of the few rock stars that you never wanted to be. He stood in the middle of the stage with his guitar and sang songs such as Only the Lonely, Running Scared, Love Hurts and Crying. It was magical. The quality of his voice was truly amazing. So was his ability to convey raw emotion. At that time I had never experienced a broken love affair. Orbison obviously had and was able to communicate that to his audience. It was like reading a great book. I was taken into a world I knew nothing about.

I never bought any of Orbison’s records. At the time I was a terrible snob who was only willing to buy music performed by black Americans. However, that night, I knew I was in the company of a great artist. He died a long time ago (1988). However, when they play his music on the radio, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up in recognition of that night I spent with him in Romford in the summer of 1962.

The other outstanding performance was by Don McLean. It was in London in 1973. A year after his great hit American Pie was released. In many ways McLean was very much like Orbison. He stood in the middle of the stage with his guitar and sang his own songs. Like Orbison, he actually sounded better live than he did on record. However, it was not the quality of his voice that mattered. It was his ability to create a sense of community. McLean was very much a political singer (I believe he still is). Songs such as Sister Fatima, The Grave, Bronco Bill’s Lament, The Pride Parade, The More You Pay and Oh My What a Shame were spellbinding. The nearest I can compare it to was listening to a great orator. It was the ability to use words to create an emotional and political response from the audience. I never had the good fortune to hear Martin Luther King make a live speech. I imagine it would have had a similar impact on me as that Don Mclean concert.

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I have a long history of concert-going, beginning with Janis Joplin when it was just Big Brother and the Holding Company. I saw Hendrix when he was still with the Experience. Growing up in the SF Bay Area, the Fillmore was a regular weekly thing, with all the SF bands: Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Santana, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and especially Country Joe and the Fish. In the early seventies, there was Elton John, Eric Clapton, George Harrison (with Ravi Shankar mixed with Tom Scott and the L.A. Express), Cat Stevens, always Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, in their many varying configurations. I saw the Rolling Stones at Altamont, and numerous times since. Yes has always and many times live, been a favorite. Most recently, the Paul McCartney tour opened in Oakland and was a very moving event. But the best show ever, trying to name just one, was Genesis during Peter Gabriel's last tour with them, performing "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" in Berkeley.

Tim

Edited by Tim Carroll

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My taste is a bit different but I am really glad that even living here in Tasmania I have manged to see Pavarotti twice, Domingo once, Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, and Joan Sutherland many times at the Sydney Opera House. Now, there's a venue - on a summer's night, with a glass of champagne, looking out over the harbour - can't beat it. On my travels through the UK and Europe I've been to most of the big opera houses, but Sydney has an atmosphere all of its own.

The other thing I've enjoyed immensely is two Proms concerts at the Albert Hall, complete with flags, whistles and plastic tiara. Loved it!!

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I saw so many great performers as a kid in all sorsts of contexts. When I was very small (late fifties, early sixties) variety shows were still popular and my parents would take me to see their favourite artistsat the Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre. We didn't have baby sitters in those days so I would be plonked in a seat and fall asleep through sheer tiredness and boredom. Some acts I do remeber though- lots of singers and musicians (eg David Whitfield, Ruby Murray, Eddie Calvert- "who?" I hear you say). My favourites though were always the comedians. I saw just about everyone, but my two favoutrites were Ken Dodd because he worked so hard for his laughs and Tommy Cooper because he did nothing ant it was funny. I still love comedians to this day.

Later it was rock music at Birmingham Town Hall or the Odeon. The first perfomer I ever saw was a young lad called Little Stevie Wonder. He topped the bill in a show with about five acts- and all for fifteen bob! The best I saw? Johnny Winter, The Nice, John Mayall, Fairport Convention, Ten Years After all the bands of the period really, the late sixties, early seventies a fantastic time for music.

If I can add theatre to the list, my abiding passion is for Shakespeare, especially Shakespeare at Startford. There I've seen some truly outstanding stuff. Perhaps for me the most moving was Robert Stephens, after years in the wilderness returning to triumph in "King Lear". I was so moved by his performance I waited at the stage door after the show just to tell him how brilliant he was. I shook his hand, he was very touched and said it was an honour and then he shuffled off into the night accompanied by his young frail female assistant, as though Lear and Cordelia were continuing their journey together in the shadowy Stratford streets. A couple of weeks later he was dead. I remember reading his obituary and thinking I was glad I'd told him how great he was.

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I saw so many great performers as a kid in all sorsts of contexts. When I was very small (late fifties, early sixties) variety shows were still popular and my parents would take me to see their favourite artistsat the Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre. We didn't have baby sitters in those days so I would be plonked in a seat and fall asleep through sheer tiredness and boredom. Some acts I do remeber though- lots of singers and musicians (eg David Whitfield, Ruby Murray, Eddie Calvert- "who?" I hear you say). My favourites though were always the comedians. I saw just about everyone, but my two favoutrites were Ken Dodd because he worked so hard for his laughs and Tommy Cooper because he did nothing ant it was funny. I still love comedians to this day.

Later it was rock music at Birmingham Town Hall or the Odeon. The first perfomer I ever saw was a young lad called Little Stevie Wonder. He topped the bill in a show with about five acts- and all for fifteen bob! The best I saw? Johnny Winter, The Nice, John Mayall, Fairport Convention, Ten Years After all the bands of the period really, the late sixties, early seventies a fantastic time for music.

If I can add theatre to the list, my abiding passion is for Shakespeare, especially Shakespeare at Startford. There I've seen some truly outstanding stuff. Perhaps for me the most moving was Robert Stephens, after years in the wilderness returning to triumph in "King Lear". I was so moved by his performance I waited at the stage door after the show just to tell him how brilliant he was. I shook his hand, he was very touched and said it was an honour and then he shuffled off into the night accompanied by his young frail female assistant, as though Lear and Cordelia were continuing their journey together in the shadowy Stratford streets. A couple of weeks later he was dead. I remember reading his obituary and thinking I was glad I'd told him how great he was.

________________________________________

Boy that's a tough one.

#1 Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band 1975, 1977, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1988(Massachusetts), 1988 (Amnesty International, Phila), 2000 FIFTH ROW SEATS!!,

2002 (aUSTIN), 2003 MA. He is simply the best live show around!!!

Paul McCartney 1993 TX.

Steven Curtis Chapman, Austin Tx., 1998

Amy Grant, Austin Tx 1995

WAY too many more to mention but those are my top four favs.

Dawn

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I was taken to a concert in Southampton by my older cousin when about 11 years old.

Highlights

Kinks

Yardbirds

Ronnettes

Cliff Bennet and the Rebel Rousers

Other concerts worth remembering

Van Morrison at the Rainbow in 1974

Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band At the Dome in Brighton 1972.

(Got detained by the police after this event on suspicion of robbery with violence - held for a while but released after the sory of wher I had been was checked out). The policeman enquired was Capatin Beefheart anything like the Beach Boys.

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I thought it might be a good idea to write about the greatest live concerts you have attended.

Over the years I have seen a large number of the great names in music perform live. The first great performance I saw was that of Roy Orbison. I had gone to see a new up and coming band called the Beatles (they were just about to have their first record, Love Me Do, released. The Beatles were at the bottom of the bill and were supporting Orbison, a singer who I did not know anything about.  Orbison completely lacked charisma and was one of the few rock stars that you never wanted to be. He stood in the middle of the stage with his guitar and sang songs such as Only the Lonely, Running Scared, Love Hurts and Crying. It was magical. The quality of his voice was truly amazing. So was his ability to convey raw emotion. At that time I had never experienced a broken love affair. Orbison obviously had and was able to communicate that to his audience. It was like reading a great book. I was taken into a world I knew nothing about.

I never bought any of Orbison’s records. At the time I was a terrible snob who was only willing to buy music performed by black Americans. However, that night, I knew I was in the company of a great artist. He died a long time ago (1988). However, when they play his music on the radio, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up in recognition of that night I spent with him in Romford in the summer of 1962.

The other outstanding performance was by Don McLean. It was in London in 1973. A year after his great hit American Pie was released. In many ways McLean was very much like Orbison. He stood in the middle of the stage with his guitar and sang his own songs. Like Orbison, he actually sounded better live than he did on record. However, it was not the quality of his voice that mattered. It was his ability to create a sense of community. McLean was very much a political singer (I believe he still is). Songs such as Sister Fatima, The Grave, Bronco Bill’s Lament, The Pride Parade, The More You Pay and Oh My What a Shame were spellbinding. The nearest I can compare it to was listening to a great orator. It was the ability to use words to create an emotional and political response from the audience. I never had the good fortune to hear Martin Luther King make a live speech. I imagine it would have had a similar impact on me as that Don Mclean concert.

Ah there are so many. 3 Pink Floyd concerts are my all time favorites, the Wish You Were Here tour in Hamilton Ontario in '75, the last show on the Animals tour in Montreal in '77, and the Delicate Sound of Thunder tour in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse in '87. Still have the ticket stubs.

Other notables include 4 Stevie Ray Vaughn shows, 3 Santana's (1 with a 16 year old Neil Schon in the band), and 2 BB King's. Notable misses: Hendrix in 1970 (I thought he would be back) and Led Zeppelin (2 canceled tours I had tickets for).

RJS

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Fun topic - with lots of great artists mentioned. I haven't gone to many live performances over the years, but John's post reminded me of seeing John Prine in a concert hall, standing there all by himself with his guitar, singing "Hello in There", etc. I saw him again years later when he played with Steve Goodman as Steve was dying from leukemia. Steve was fabulous.

Saw Leo Kotke in the late 70's - early 80's - technically phenomenal. The Talking Heads in the late 70's and early 80's - amazing. The Police, fronted by the English Beat, was a memorable performance as well. And Karla Bonoff, singing her songs that others made famous....

Asleep at the Wheel was just plain fun - and not many people came to hear them.

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Both times I have seen the Dave Matthews Band play live in Connetticut have been amazing. The band has been voted one of the best live performances ever, and it's clear to see why. They combine five incredibly talented musicians, intense lighting effects and a lot of improvisation and the result is phenomenal. If you have never heard Dave Matthews Band before, check out their live CDs, not as good the real thing but better than nothing.

Dave Matthews Band Website

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Manic Street Preachers, Chris Cornell, Franz Ferdinand.

2007 - Rock'n Coke Festival, Istanbul.

Morrissey

2006 - Efes Pilsen One Love Festival, Istanbul.

Edited by Cigdem Eksi

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The Bill Evans Trio, Providence, RI, 1980 (the year of his passing).

Ella Fitzgerald with the Count Basie Orchestra, Newport, RI, 1978.

Shirley Horn, Scullers, Boston, MA, 2006.

Mark Murphy, Scullers, 2007.

Pepper Adams, Allary, Providence, 1978.

Phil Woods Quintet, Sandy's Jazz Revival, Beverly, MA, 1975.

Duke Ellington Orchestra, Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Providence, 1969.

Joe Henderson, Yoshi's, Oakland, CA, 1983.

Ella Fitzgerald, Ronnie Scott's, London, 1974.

Frank Sinatra, Budokan Hall, Tokyo, 1985.

Frank Sinatra, Radio City Music Hall, New York, 1990

Edited by Charles Drago

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The Bill Evans Trio, Providence, RI, 1980 (the year of his passing).

Ella Fitzgerald with the Count Basie Orchestra, Newport, RI, 1978.

Shirley Horn, Scullers, Boston, MA, 2006.

Mark Murphy, Scullers, 2007.

Pepper Adams, Allary, Providence, 1978.

Phil Woods Quintet, Sandy's Jazz Revival, Beverly, MA, 1975.

Duke Ellington Orchestra, Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Providence, 1969.

Joe Henderson, Yoshi's, Oakland, CA, 1984.

Ella Fitzgerald, Ronnie Scott's, London, 1974.

Frank Sinatra, Budokan Hall, Tokyo, 1985.

Charles,

You saw Frank in Tokyo?

I caught Levon Helm last night in Philly.

BK

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Bill,

It was sheer serendipity. I was there representing an elderly, house-bound member of my extended family on business matters. It was a brief trip on the ultra-cheap, with little chance for tourism. In and out. However, I did manage to place a call to an American attorney whose acquaintance I had made a few years earlier when I was MC of the Newport Jazz Festival (the year of George Wein's return as festival promoter to the City by the Sea). She had told me then that she was transferring to a Tokyo office; her field was intellectual property law.

We connected. She had an extra ticket. My seat was not a good one, but I think I can see myself during one of the crowd shots on the laser disc version of the concert.

I flew home the next day. Somewhere around the archives are the program book and a huge, beautiful promotional poster.

By the way, in his inimitable fashion, Sinatra sang the lyric, "Ruck be a rady tonight." Seriously.

Charles

Edited by Charles Drago

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Bill,

It was sheer serendipity. I was there representing an elderly, house-bound member of my extended family on business matters. It was a brief trip on the ultra-cheap, with little chance for tourism. In and out. However, I did manage to place a call to an American attorney whose acquaintance I had made a few years earlier when I was MC of the Newport Jazz Festival (the year of George Wein's return as festival promoter to the City by the Sea). She had told me then that she was transferring to a Tokyo office; her field was intellectual property law.

We connected. She had an extra ticket. My seat was not a good one, but I think I can see myself during one of the crowd shots on the laser disc version of the concert.

I flew home the next day. Somewhere around the archives are the program book and a huge, beautiful promotional poster.

By the way, in his inimitable fashion, Sinatra sang the lyric, "Ruck be a rady tonight." Seriously.

Charles

That's terrific Charles,

What a lucky guy. And you were part of the Newport scene hea?

Did you ever work or go to the folk fest when Dylan was there?

Here's a quick review of the show I caught last night:

http://jerseyshorenightbeat.blogspot.com/

BK

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BK,

I haven't attended a Folk Festival, alas.

I was born in 1952, so the heyday of the NJF was before my time. Wein returned in 1980, when I was Rhode Island's only regularly published jazz critic. He hired me to host the festival, and I was very flattered. I was asked back five more times.

There are great stories to be told, and I hope someday to get around to the telling.

I'll read your attached concert review now. And thanks for this most pleasant exchange.

Best,

Charles

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