My Top Ten Favorite Live Shows

If you believe in magic, come along with me
We’ll dance until mornin’ ’til there’s just you and me
And maybe, if the music is right

I’ll meet you tomorrow, sort of late at night
And we’ll go dancing, baby, then you’ll see
How the magic’s in the music and the music’s in me

A few years ago I was flying out to California on business. Tired of reading, I decided to list all the live concerts I had ever attended. I won’t bore you with that but it’s a pretty good list. And then I got to thinking – what are the ten best shows I’ve ever seen?

For most of these shows, I was able to remember the rough time frame but not the actual dates. But thanks to the Internet, I was able to narrow it down. So, here they are in no particular order. Feel free to comment and/or add yours:

  • Paul Simon, Orpheum Theater Boston, (December 2000) – Unlike Paul’s somewhat melancholy Simon and Garfunkel days, he was pretty fun to watch. They had to keep coming up  to the balcony to get people to stop dancing so it wouldn’t collapse.
  • Allman Brothers Band (original band), Schaefer Music Festival, Central Park, NY (July 1971) – Duane, Berry, the whole crew. I wasn’t even 100% sure who any of them were. Great show, fond memory. Held at the Wollman Skating rink, festival now long gone. Somebody sold me a bootleg Jethro Tull album afterwards.
  • The Who, TD Garden, Boston. (March 2016). An overwhelmingly great, powerful show loaded with hits. Middle-aged wasteland.
  • Roger Waters, The Wall. Fenway Park, Boston. The event di tutti events.
  • Miles Davis, Kix. Boston. (June 1981). One of Miles’ last shows. For some reason this now-defunct Kenmore Square club was one of two he picked to return from a five year hiatus. I recently found out they recorded it for an album called We Want Miles. How did I not know that? Turns out it was a better show than I recalled.
  • Paul McCartney, Fenway Park, Boston. (August 2009). What can I say? Started out with “Drive My Car,” went into euphoria from there. Beatlemania. All you could hear was, “Paul! I love you. Marry me.” And that was just me!
  • Mahavishnu Orchestra, Billy Cobham, Weather Report. Hammersmith Odeon, London. (July 1976). I was living in Earl’s Court for a couple of months surviving on kebabs and Indian food. Jazz-rock bands didn’t come any bigger than these three bands. Unfortunately they all came out and jammed together at the end. Total cacophony.
  • Stevie Wonder, TD Garden, Boston. (November 2014). This was his Songs in the Key of Life tour and it was just a joy (no other word for it) from beginning to end. If he ever comes back and does just his hits, I’m there.
  • Rolling Stones, Foxboro Stadium. (October 1997). Bridges to Babylon tour. Unbelievably, first time I’d ever seen them. Awesome show. Mick kept running down a ramp right near us. Everybody from kids to grannies were there.
  • Bruce Springsteen, Music Hall, Boston. (March 1977). Even then we couldn’t get closer than the 20th row. The venue still exists but it’s called the Wang Center or something.

Honorable mention, Steely Dan, Boston Opera House; Sting, Bank of America Pavilion; Jefferson Airplane, Fillmore East: Black Sabbath, J. Geils Band, Fillmore East, Stevie Ray Vaughn/Jeff Beck, Worcester Centrum, George Thorogood, Harvard Square Theater, Squeeze, Tupelo Music Hall.

7 thoughts on “My Top Ten Favorite Live Shows

  1. Great list. The Roger Waters one was from his latest Wall tour?


    1. Yeah, shit, that was a year ago maybe? Two? Very cool stuff. A movie was made of one of The Wall shows in, I think, England. Reviewed it on these pages, wasn’t nuts about it. Brought out the worst of Rogers’ self-absorption.


  2. Like to time travel back to the Mahavishnu, Cobham, WR gig. Going back to see the ‘Bros’ would be cool also. The Boss is always good. Seen the Who a few times way back, really good. J. Geils gave a really good show. Thorogood cranks it out. You’ve seen some good ones. On the same page for a few.


  3. Yeah, the Mahavishnu one was insane. Over the years I don’t think I’ve seen too many bad shows. We usually picked bands whose albums we really dug or whose live reputations preceded them I wish I’d seen Hendrix, Joplin, Doors, Sly but it was not be, alas. The Airplane were the only one of that particular generation I caught and I was glad for it. They were still very much on point at that time. I also got lucky enough to live in NY for the Fillmore East’s brief but legendary run. Right place, right time.

    When you eventually make your way to September posts, you’ll see that I caught a hell of a Springsteen show. And my feeling is that if that is my last big concert ever, that would be sufficient. Getting too expensive, too much VIP bullshit. Maybe we had this conversation already. But from here on it’s small clubs for me. Unless, of course, AC/DC comes around and I have a few spare quid. Then all bets are off. 😀

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    1. On the same wave length Jim. I quit big venues years ago. I’ve seen some great shows over the years and always found the smaller venues better. Pretty hard when a band becomes popular though. Saw Bruce for the fist time on the ‘Darkness’ tour. Small place and he kind of raised the bar for lives shows. Can remember it like it was yesterday. One thing that blew me away was how loud he was. ‘ Adam Raised a Cain’ rung in my ears for days. He really gave his guitar and amps a workout. Saw Ray Davies a while back in a small place. He was fantastic. He should have it down , only been doing it live for about 50 years. Later

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      1. Dave Davies passes through periodically. He had a stroke a while back but I know he’s back in business. Saw the Kinks years ago in NY. Ray was drunk. Oh demon alcohol.

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        1. Saw the Kinks quite a few times. A fave band live. Too bad about Ray being pissed. I saw Lou Reed and he was so wrecked it was a waste of time. He did redeem himself later. But i have a pretty good batting average on good shows. The Pouges were drunk as skunks but they were still really good.

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