Friday, January 28, 2011

My Favorite Concerts

You are at the point of creation. The audience can't wait for the next song to begin. The air is charged. It’s one of those nights.

I’ve been lucky-enough to experience over seventy of those nights; the kind of where the band is on fire and notes hang in the air, making music so tangible you can practically reach out and touch it.

It’s better than sex or great food or the best movie you ever saw. You drive home with the radio off because you don’t want to disturb the afterglow.

The concerts that follow represent about one-fifth of the three-hundred forty-nine concerts I’ve attended. Shows are listed in chronological order. Support acts are listed when they contributed to the vibe.

And if you’re wondering about the deficit of post-1995 shows, let’s just say I moved to a state that was enchantment-rich but concert-poor.

The Outlaws/The Doobie Brothers 9/19/75 The Chicago Stadium
Natural Gas/Gary Wright/Lynyrd Skynyrd/Peter Frampton/Yes 8/15/76 Hawthorne Racetrack
Jeff Beck 2/19/77 The Auditorium Theater
The Michael Stanley Band/Nazareth/REO Speedwagon 4/22/77 The Auditorium Theater
The Climax Blues Band/The J. Geils Band/Foghat/Emerson, Lake & Palmer 6/4/77 Soldier Field
Pink Floyd 6/19/77 Soldier Field
UFO 10/13/78 The International Amphitheater
Louisiana Leroux/REO Speedwagon 11/4/78 The University of Illinois Assembly Hall
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 11/20/78 The University of Illinois Assembly Hall
The Rockets/Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band 12/1/78 The Chicago Stadium
Graham Parker & the Rumour/Cheap Trick 6/16/79 The International Amphitheater
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers 6/18/80 Poplar Creek Music Theater
The Rockets/REO Speedwagon 8/24/80 Poplar Creek Music Theater
Moon Martin & the Ravens/Rockpile 11/15/80 The Riviera Theater
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 11/20/80 The Rosemont Horizon
The Kind/Ian Hunter 10/9/81 Cahn Auditorium
The Neville Brothers/The Rolling Stones 11/23/81 The Rosemont Horizon
Red Rider/The J. Geils Band 12/19/81 The Uptown Theater
Defunkt/The Clash 8/13/82 The Aragon Ballroom
Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul 2/13/83 Park West
The Talking Heads 8/14/83 Poplar Creek Music Theater
Los Lobos/The Blasters 7/5/84 SummerFest
The Dream Syndicate/REM 7/7/84 The Aragon Ballroom
The Fleshtones/Billy Bragg/Echo & the Bunnymen 8/25/84 The Bismarck Theater
The Kinks 12/2/84 The University of Illinois Chicago Pavilion
Lone Justice/U2 3/22/85 The University of Illinois Chicago Pavilion
The Blasters 4/13/85 Park West
Til Tuesday/Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers 6/22/85 Poplar Creek Music Theater
Dire Straits 8/3/85 Poplar Creek Music Theater
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark 9/2/85 Cabaret Metro
Eleventh Dream Day/Green on Red 9/20/85 The West End
The Cure 10/18/85 The Aragon Ballroom
EIEIO/The Del Fuegos 4/21/86 Park West
Big Audio Dynamite 11/28/86 The Riviera Theater
Peter Gabriel 12/5/86 The Rosemont Horizon
Dave Edmunds 2/14/87 Park West
Shriekback 4/23/87 Park West
Cameo 5/2/87 The Holiday Star Theater
Paul Kelly & the Messengers/Crowded House 9/12/87 The Riviera Theater
Barrence Whitfield & the Savages/Dave Alvin & the All-Nighters/Los Lobos 10/16/87 The Riviera Theater
Richard Lloyd/The Replacements 11/14/87 The Riviera Theater
The Silencers/Squeeze 11/27/87 The Riviera Theater
Public Image Limited/INXS 3/11/88 The University of Illinois Chicago Pavilion
Rosie Flores/Joe Ely 11/13/88 Fitzgerald’s
The Ben Vaughn Combo/John Hiatt 11/26/88 Park West
The Primitives 12/2/88 Cabaret Metro
NRBQ 1/28/89 Fitzgerald’s
Cherrelle/Alexander O’Neal 4/30/89 The Regal Theater
The Jayhawks/The Vulgar Boatmen/The Silos 5/18/90 Cabaret Metro
Lisa Stansfield 5/21/90 Park West
Social Distortion/Sonic Youth/Neil Young & Crazy Horse 1/29/91 The Rosemont Horizon
The Picadors/Trip Shakespeare 7/13/91 The Cubby Bear
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark 9/22/91 Cabaret Metro
Superchunk/The Mekons 11/8/91 Cabaret Metro
The Ocean Blue/The Psychedelic Furs 11/13/91 Cabaret Metro
My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult/Siouxsie & the Banshees 12/8/91 The Central Park Ballroom
The Wallflowers/Cracker 5/9/92 Cabaret Metro
Big Audio Dynamite/Public Enemy/U2 9/18/92 The World Music Theater
Ike Reilly & Community #9/The Mekons 11/14/92 Cabaret Metro
David J/PJ Harvey 11/26/92 Cabaret Metro
The Mekons 11/24/93 Cabaret Metro
Seam/Fig Dish/The Flaming Lips 12/10/93 Cabaret Metro
Throneberry/Tina & the B-Sides/Tommy Keene 2/11/94 The Cubby Bear
Cynthia Plastercaster/The Mekons 7/22/94 Lounge Ax
The Vulgar Boatmen/The Silos 4/13/95 Cabaret Metro
Susan Voelz 5/17/95 Schuba's
Kitchens of Distinction 5/22/95 The Double Door
Bjork 8/4/95 Cabaret Metro
PJ Harvey 10/7/95 The Riviera Theater
Marcia Ball/Aaron Neville/John Fogerty 9/1/00 The World Music Theater
Gavin DeGraw/Maroon 5 11/16/03 The Sunshine Theater
Lavender Diamond/The New Pornographers 9/22/07 The Sunshine Theater


  1. We were talking about our favourite concerts at work the other day. I nominated a BB King concert as my favourite, way back in the 80s. Others would include: Lyle Lovett, The Pogues, Rickie Lee Jones, The Sugar Cubes, David Bowie, Arturo Sandoval, Tito Puenti, The Chieftains and The Eurytmics. impressive list by the way.

  2. I am desperately sorry I never saw the Pogues.

    I, too saw B.B. King--at the 1984 Chicago Jazz festival with Count Basie's band backing him up. Yum. I highly recommend his most-recent, 'One Kind Favor'.

    Finally, a 1983 Bowie show came thisclose to making the cut, but... When did you see him, Marcus?

  3. I saw Bowie in 1983 too. The Serious Moonlight Tour. The Pogues were fantastic. McGowan got through two bottles of SA wine while on stage, drinking from the bottle. But he was on top form. Sadly, in a subsequent tour, he was so drunk, he only lasted three songs and had to be carried off.