Greg's Top Ten Concerts Of 2017
December 7, 2017
Cleveland is back! After some tours bypassed us over the last few years, almost every major tour made a stop in Northeastern Ohio in 2017. I was fortunate to catch most of the big tours that came through town as well as some artists that played more intimate venues.
I attended over 75 concerts this year and I saw some incredible shows. Making a Top Ten list was very difficult; just missing my Top Ten but still fantastic shows in their own right were: Earth Wind and Fire with Nile Rodgers, Fall Out Boy, Little Steven And The Disciples Of Soul, Herb Alpert and Buckingham/McVie.
After much consideration, a little brain-wracking, and some back and forth, here are my choices for the Top Ten Concerts of 2017:
10. Jonny Lang (The Kent Stage) This was my first time seeing Jonny playing a full set (I did see him as a part of Experience Hendrix) and it won’t be the last. The tone of this bluesman’s guitar is fantastic. He can also shred with the best of them.
9. Twenty One Pilots (PPG Paint Arena, Pittsburgh) I probably wouldn't have gone to this show if it wasn’t for my daughter who pleaded with me to take her. I’m glad I listened because these boys from Columbus sure do put on a great show! Great lights and sound, they are interactive as Josh goes out into the crowd and plays a small drum set, while Tyler went into a huge red ball and ran out over the people on the floor. We actually liked them so much we saw them again on their Tour de Columbus later in the summer.
8. Roger Waters (Quicken Loans Arena) I saw Pink Floyd in the ‘80s and ‘90s but Mr. Waters was no longer in the band. To be able to hear songs like “Welcome To The Machine” and "Another Brick In The Wall" sung by the original performer was a treat. His stage show was a spectacle in itself. Although perhaps a little too political at times, it still was an outstanding show.
7. Queen + Adam Lambert (Quicken Loans Arena) Yes, it really isn’t Queen without Freddie but Adam Lambert knows that. However, the American Idol alum did a great job fronting this band by putting his own spin on those classic tunes. To hear Brian May play his guitar was worth the price of admission. When images of Freddie Mercury appeared on the screen, it brought a tear to Brian’s eye, as well as most people in the audience.
6. Ann Wilson of Heart (Packard Music Hall, Warren) The legendary voice of Heart was on a solo tour this past summer. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer proved once again that she has one of the best voices in the business. Playing only a few songs from her original band, the rest were cover songs and a couple original solo tunes. This woman could belt out a Wikipedia entry and make it hit Billboard's Top 40.
5. Green Day (Blossom Music Center) This pop-punk band sure knows how to put on a great rock and roll show. They're a throwback outfit that has fleshpots, flames and confetti. Although they don’t need those things because the energy of frontman Billie Joe Armstrong is probably enough to power their amps. Their arsenal of songs, certainly, can rival any band.
4. Tom Petty/Joe Walsh (Quicken Loans Arena) Who knew that Tom Petty’s 40th Anniversary Tour would be his last? This is why I always tell people that if you want to see an artist, GO SEE THEM! You never know if it may be the last time. Petty and the Heartbreakers were in fine form and played pretty much everything you would want to hear. Joe Walsh served as the opener and I've never heard him play better. The man was on fire! Dale Peters and Jim Fox even made an appearance for a mini James Gang reunion and played “Funk 49.”
3. Sammy Hagar and The Circle (Hard Rock Rocksino) It’s been a few years since the Red Rocker played a show in Northeastern Ohio but he more than made up for it by playing one of the most rockin’ shows that I have seen at the Rocksino. Sammy and the boys proceeded to blow the roof off of the place by playing songs from every aspect of Hagar’s career including Montrose, Van Halen, Chickenfoot and solo material.
2. U2 (Heinz Stadium, Pittsburgh) Since the Cleveland show was sold out, I decided to make the trek to Pittsburgh to see The Joshua Tree Tour a month before they stopped at First Energy Stadium. The first four songs were played on a mini stage that extended into the crowd. Then the band walked up the catwalk to the big stage with a huge video screen to play The Joshua Tree in its entirety. I must say, I got the chills hearing the intro to “Where The Streets Have No Name.” It was just a fantastic show.
1. Farm Aid (KeyBank Pavilion, Pittsburgh) The 32nd Annual Farm Aid concert was held just outside of Pittsburgh this year. This all-day festival featured fifteen acts from gospel, country and rock. From 12:30 to well past 11:00 that evening, the acts kept getting bigger and bigger. Younger outfits like the The Avett Brothers, Jamey Johnson and Margo Price played earlier in the afternoon. When the sun started to go down, the stars really came out. Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews, and John Mellencamp all played six to eight-song sets. My favorite, Neil Young, opened up with “Fuckin’ Up” and continued to slay his black Les Paul with “Cortez The Killer' and "Cinnamon Girl.” It was Mr. Young’s only live performance of 2017 and it was outstanding! The founder of Farm Aid, Willie Nelson, ended the show by playing with all of his friends.
2018 looks to be another stellar year for shows as Cleveland will host the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies and many other great concerts have already been announced! Who will be in your Top Ten?
Article by Greg Drugan