Greg's Top Ten
It’s that time again. Time to reflect back on all the great live music that I witnessed over the past year. I had the opportunity to attend over 80 different concerts that featured over 140 different performers. I was pleasantly surprised at how good some of the shows were, however, there were a few clunkers in the mix.
First, here is my honorable mention list. These shows were great, but just missed my Top Ten: Kenny Loggins with the CYO, Imagine Dragons, Roger Daltrey with The Cleveland Orchestra, Gladys Knight and Garbage.
Here are my Top Ten shows that totally blew me away.
10. David Byrne (Jacobs Pavilion) The former frontman of the Talking Heads made an impressive stop at Jacobs Pavilion this summer. He and his band, all 12 or so members, wore matching grey suits and were barefoot on stage. All band members, including the percussionists, carried and played their instruments which allowed them to dance around the stage for each number. Some songs were theatrical, some were quirky, but Byrne showed that he is creative as ever and his voice is still spot-on.
9. Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band (Rocksino) When a Beatle comes to a small venue in your own backyard, how can you not put him in your Top Ten? Not only do you get the best of Ringo songs- solo and Beatles, but you get to hear songs from his All Starr Band. Songs from Toto (Steve Lukather) Santana (Gregg Rolie), Men At Work (Colin Hay) and 10 CC (Graham Gouldman) were all flawlessly played in the set. Ringo has some good friends.
8. The Eagles (Nationwide Arena, Columbus) I got to cover the Eagles in the spring before they made their way to Cleveland in the fall. I was curious as to how the band would sound without founding member Glenn Frey. Well, they did not miss a beat or a note with the addition of Vince Gill and Glenn’s son, Deacon. The smooth harmonies and perfect musicianship that has been their trademark for five decades was still on display leaving fans with a peaceful easy feeling.
7. The Struts and The Glorious Sons (House of Blues) Two up and coming bands that are keeping rock alive. Both bands have been together for less than 10 years and both are from different countries, The Glorious Sons are Canadian while The Struts are British. Both bands also kick ass in a different way. The Glorious Sons are just straight ahead, no frills rock where The Struts are a little more glam. I love them both and hope to see them next year!
6. Shania Twain (Quicken Loans Arena) Yep, I have a country act on my list. The 1990’s country “it” girl put on a country music showcase at The Q. The 52-year old made a long awaited return to Cleveland and she did not disappoint. Playing all the hits and having several costume changes, Shania can still bring it.
5. Randy Bachman (Rocksino) The former leader of The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive had a storytellers type of show at the Hard Rock. I love these types of shows where the artist tells the origin or where they got the inspiration to write a particular song. Bachman’s catalog of tunes and his storytelling ability, made for a very enjoyable evening.
4. Joan Baez (Playhouse Square) 1960s political activist, folk singer, icon and recent Rock Hall inductee, made a stop on her Fare Thee Well tour at The State Theater. This woman has always put her money where her mouth is. She played pretty much everything that you would want to hear and she also told some incredible stories along the way. As a bonus, Brian and I got to meet her backstage after the show!
3. Pink (Quicken Loans Arena) Wow, what a spectacle! Pink is an outstanding performer, singer, acrobat and entertainer. Playing all of her hits and doing some pretty incredible Cirque du Soleil style tricks, Pink put on one of the most entertaining shows of the year.
2. ELO (Little Caesars Arena, Detroit) Jeff Lynn’s ELO did not make a stop in Cleveland, so I made the trek to Motown to check them out. It was well worth the trip. I never thought that I would get to hear those classic ELO songs like “Telephone Line,” “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Do Ya” in a live setting. Thankfully, Lynn has decided to tour after a long layoff. The show had fantastic lights and enough video projections to enhance the note-perfect concert. ELO will not be stopping in Cleveland next summer but they will be in Columbus and Pittsburgh, I highly recommend that you check them out!
1. Foo Fighters and The Struts (Blossom Music Center) Dave Grohl and company just ooze rock and roll. For two and a half hours, The Foo Fighters put on an old school, in your face rock and roll show. They played new stuff, they played old stuff, they played a few covers tunes, they were engaging, funny and they clearly were having fun on stage. Plainly stated, they kicked ass. The Struts, who came in at number seven on my list for their headlining show, were the perfect opening act. They rocked for 40 minutes, then lead singer Luke Spiller came back out to duet with Taylor Hawkins on “Under Pressure” in the middle of the Foo’s set. I left the sold-out Blossom crowd with a smile on my face knowing that rock is alive and well.
There you have it! It's going to be hard to top 2018, but there are already some fun shows announced for 2019, plus the rumors of tours and possible shows makes next year really enticing!