These days I don’t attend many concerts. After all this time playing music professionally, that last thing I want to do is go see live music and subject my ears to all the loudness.
Looking back in time here are a few that really stand out for me. My top 5 favorites have just as much to do with the moment, people I was with & the fun time I was having as they do the actual music performance.
1) Van Halen 1981 Fair Warning tour – Chicago Amphitheater. 2nd concert ever I attended. I was very young and impressionable. At that age a great concert is magical. It was July 10th. There was so much pot smoke, you could barely see across the arena. VH & Eddie in particular were on fire! And David Lee Roth was the ultimate frontman. I think my DNA changed forever that night.
2) Iron Maiden 1982 Number of the Beast tour. Chicagofest at Navy Pier
It was one of the side stages. They were on the cusp of becoming huge. The opener was a new wave act & local metal heads were impatient & mean to them. Beer cups were thrown at the stage & that turned into a full fledged garbage fight. Cups, rib bones, watermelon rinds, etc filled the sky. It was crazy. The crowd was warned to settle down or no more concert. And when Maiden finally came out they were, of course, totally awesome!
3) Monkees Reunion Tour Summer of 1987 or 88. Poplar Creek Music Theater. I was in college by then and very drunk that night. No Mike Nesmith but Mickey, Davey and Peter took me back to my early childhood with their greatest hits and a backing band of excellent musicians. When they played “Going Down”, I lost my friggin’ mind.
4) Brian Setzer Orchestra 1997 summer tour. House of Blues. This was part of a bachelor party for one of my old friends. We went to an afternoon Cubs game, dinner at a roof top beer garden and then the House of Blues. Wasn’t expecting it and I was completely blown away by how awesome Setzer was! Halfway through the show, I was told we were taking the party to a strip club. I said “no way I’m not leaving” So they left me there. I had to scramble to find a ride home that night but it all worked out and it was way worth it.
5) Jeff Beck 2001 at Chicago Theater. Jeff Beck is one of my all time favorite guitarists. No one can match his unique expressiveness and idiosyncratic technique. This was my first time seeing him live. My friend George got us 3rd row seats. Jennifer Batten on 2nd guitar & Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. Goosebumps the entire night. Amazing!