Monday, September 13, 2010

The Show I'll Never Forget

Been to a concert lately? If so think back, remember your favorite concert? I'd bet the band or venue was only the backdrop. You remember your favorite concert for other reasons. Who you were with, what you wore or ingested, where you sat, or simply because Sting looked right at you, locking eyes for all eternity. Admit it, you barely remember the show.

I've had music on the brain over the weekend. This was aided by misreading the card catalog at the local library. Mistakenly, I ordered "The Show I'll Never Forget", edited by Sean Manning. The sub, 50 writers relive their most memorable concertgoing experience pretty well tells the story, and what a stories they are.

The writers, most of whom you've heard, cover 60+ years of concert tales, each in 3 or 4 pages. The artists, all of which you've heard, many whom you wouldn't expect, range chronologically from Miles Davis in Buffalo New York in 1955, to Metric in SF, 2005.

For the most part, the band is irrelevant to the story, its the backstory that is more interesting. I'd give it a solid B. Maybe nothing you want to pay full retail for, but a good yarn none the less.



Staircase Witch said...

Van Cliburn, Grant Park, Chicago, 1994.

My husband and I were two of around 350,000 people, mostly sitting on blankets. There were two pieces earlier in the evening by the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra--some Copland and Hoiby's symphonic setting of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and people were chatting in low voices, moving around--not loud enough to be disturbing, but there all the same--but when he took the stage, everyone fell absolutely silent.

I have never experienced such total silence at an outdoor concert anywhere, even at Ravinia for the CSO. He began the first few bars of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1--with which he'd won a battle in the musical Cold War in 1958--and all 350,000 of us were absolutely spellbound. The only movement was a careful, quiet picking of one's way in the dark to the edge of the concert shell to have a peek at the great man--yes, that was him, impossibly tall and lanky--and then a careful return to one's place in the endless sea of upturned, utterly absorbed faces. I will never forget what it was like to be in that enormous, silent mass of people from every walk of life--it was part of what made me fall in love with that city.

Suburban Princess said...

Ooooh yes there are so many unforgettable mind is going to be filled with music for the rest of the day no doubt lol.

An amazing moment was Barenaked Ladies and Brude Cockburn singing Lovers in a Dangerous Time together on the same stage. When the 12 string was brought out at the Don Henley concert. Moxy Fruvous doing The War Song accapella in the Danforth Music Hall. When Heart sand Reign on Me...and it actually started to rain and stopped right after that song!

Main Line Sportsman said...

My list starts with Yes/Frampton in Phila 7th grade Summer...and comes current with Van Morrison at The Tower in Upper Darby. I cannot begin to talk about all the great jazz shows I witnessed when I owned the Jazz Club in Philly from 1999 to 2006...but I will say that james Moody hugged me after his show when I paid him in cash and he said that took him back to 52nd St. in NYC in the 50's

Scott said...

Elvis, 1977.

Just a few short months later, Elvis had "left the building" for good. But there's still only one King.


M.Lane said...

Atlanta Rythym Section, Panama City (Florida) Civic Center, 1977. My first concert by one of my favorite bands of all time.

Roberta Gambarini, Catalina Club, Hollywood Cal, 2007. My first encounter with one of the great modern jazz vocalists during my first stay in Beverly Hills. And a very lovely lady also.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, 2009, my son and I going to our first concert together. Perfect and priceless.


Anonymous said...

The Kinks, 1965, somewhere in the midwest ...

The concert was held in an old auditorium in a mid-sized American town. Beforehand, a friend suggested we explore the backstage, which was possible to do in those pre-security days. Upstairs, we opened a door and found four other boys enveloped in a dense cloud of cigarette smoke. One of them nodded absently in our direction, and we quickly slipped away.

I can't remember now whether You Really Got Me was the third or fourth song of the evening. What I do remember, as if it happened last night, is that when it came time for the instrumental riff, Dave Davies, the lead guitar player standing on the right of the stage, suddenly leaned sharply to his own left and raised his right leg high into the air. With his waist bent at something like a 90 degree angle, he slithered across the stage, playing the riff note perfect, all the while laughing madly, his face a picture of bliss.

I saw hundreds of concerts back in the day. Most were quite a bit of fun. But nothing was quite as memorable as that one perfect moment.

(Later that year, or early the next, their visas were pulled for bad onstage behavior. Unlike The Who, who dependably demolished their instruments, The Kinks went after each other. So The Kinks missed out on much of the rest of the decade, or America missed out on The Kinks, depending on how you look at it.)