Over the years I’ve been to a lot of concerts. I’ve especially gone to a lot of metal shows over the past decade but my tastes are broad and I like to think that I’ve seen a wide variety of artists. I thought it would be fun with today’s Sunday List to look back at my personal top ten concerts. I should note that my memory is poor and I’m not going to spend the time trying to figure out the exact date, or even year, I saw these shows. Likewise, I can’t always remember who opened for who, so (with a couple of exceptions) I’m focusing on the headliner for each show.
I also want to mention that while I want to focus on the show itself and not the circumstances around it (location of a venue, the venue itself, how the night went otherwise) these points might come up from time to time.
- Inferno Festival, Oslo, Norway. In 2006 I traveled to Norway to see a metal festival, primarily because that was one of the dates Emperor was reuniting that year. That alone is worth bragging about. But the festival overall kicked ass. Some of the highlights for me were Emperor, Carpathian Forest, Marduk (which thus became the first band I’ve seen in two different countries), Bolt Thrower and Usurper. There were about thirty bands overall so I’m sure I missed somebody awesome.
- Moonspell, Bedford, New Hampshire. I could write a whole blog post about Mark’s Showplace in Bedford and all of the problems with that place. But instead I’ll focus on not only one of the best shows I’ve seen there but the best time I’ve seen Moonspell so far. They’re one of my favorite bands and I’ve seen them live a few times since but never as headliners like they were here. Plus, they were promoting my favorite album by them, Memorial at the time. Despite the problems with the venue it had great sound and I’m glad I got to hear them so well.
- Triptykon, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Based on this performance alone, Triptykon has become my favorite live band. They were touring for their first album so to fill out a set they covered much material from their predecessor, Celtic Frost. This included emphasis on songs from the last Celtic Frost album, Monotheist, which is my favorite metal album of all time. It doesn’t hurt that Triptykon’s sound continues where that album left off.
Incidentally, I swear that every time I go into the men’s room at The Middle East in Cambridge there’s a PBR can in one of the toilets. Is this always the same one, or is it some sort of tradition there?
- David Byrne, Portland, Maine. Now that we got through all of the metal concerts on this list, I’ll include one of my artistic heroes, David Byrne. This was when he was promoting the Grown Backwards tour. To get an idea of what we saw, check out the DVD David Byrne Live at Union Chapel, recorded from the same tour. Plus, my friend and I hung out backstage after the show and managed to get Byrne’s autograph. It still sits framed on one of my stereo speakers today.
- KISS, Portland, Maine. I have to take my mind back to my teenage self for this one. I’ve since “grown out” of my KISS phase. Still, it is one of the most elaborate shows that I’ve seen and it blew me away at that age. I’m referring specifically to the time I saw them on their reunion tour. I saw them again when they were promoting Psycho Circus but I seem to remember enjoying this one a little bit more.
- “Weird Al” Yankovic, Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. I’ve seen Weird Al five times, three at this venue and twice in Portland, Maine. They were all pretty close together and were more or less the same show with a few changes each time. So I guess I’ll say the first one is what makes it to this list as it was the first time I got to see him. I haven’t seen him since, though. But I will. I’m going to a show in Seattle when I’m out there at the end of this month.
- Zappa Plays Zappa, Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. One of my biggest regrets is never having gotten to see Frank Zappa live. Granted, the period in which I would want to would be before I was born or when I was just a toddler and not be able to appreciate it. That doesn’t change the fact that he had such an influence on me as a teenager and young adult.* But at least I got to see Dweezil and his world-class band of musicians play his father’s work. I’ve missed them a few times since but I hope they keep this tour going for a long time to come.
- The Misfits, Boston, Massachusetts. I got to see The Misfits on Halloween in Boston. I really don’t think that I have to say anything else about that one.
- Nine Inch Nails, Boston, Massachusetts. I really, really, really wish I got to see Nine Inch Nails when they toured with David Bowie but I missed that one. I was still a kid living with my parents at the time and I had to fight tooth and nail just to buy a CD with a parental advisory sticker on it to begin with. But that’s okay, I got to see them years later with Dresden Dolls opening.
Not only were both bands great my friend and I go the best seats in the house. We waited to long and got cheap seats up in the balcony. That would have been fine except we were seated right a giant pillar. (Really, why are there even seats there?) So right before the show started employees of the venue came to us and re-seated us. When we asked why the guy said “Because where you were, you couldn’t see shit.” So us and the two people from the other side of the room were sat down at the back side of the main aisle directly in front of the sound board. That was an awesome night.
- Adrian Belew, Cambridge, Massachusetts. I’m a huge fan of Adrian Belew, although I’ve only gotten to see him twice. I’m only picking this one over the first time I saw him because he included more work from throughout his career as opposed to mostly recent stuff, albeit abbreviated into a series of medleys. Plus, it was an early show as far as rock concerts are concerned so I had peak energy to enjoy the performance. I doubt that The Adrian Belew Power Trio would put me to sleep, however.
*Okay, I guess medically I’m still considered a “young adult” as I haven’t quite reached middle age yet, but here I’m referring specifically to my early twenties as they were still formative years for me.