I went to a great concert Wednesday night. Gary Clark, Jr. is simply an amazing artist. But his virtuosity is not the only thing that made it a great concert. So did the venue (St. Andrews Hall), the proximity we had to the stage, and the person who attended with me (in this case, Donna). So, that made me curious. Where would I rank Gary Clark, Jr. in relation to all the concerts I’ve attended? And what made different concerts memorable? So, after a little reflection, here’s my list.
15. Wilco. Great band. Sounded just like they do on their cd’s. Jeff Tweedy is a great front man.
14. The Black Crowes. Saw them about two weeks after I saw Wilco. The opposite of Wilco. Great jam band, so very different from their cds. Rolled from one song into another. Chris Robinson is a great front man.
13. Jakob Dylan. He was with Neko Case’s band at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland. Went with great friends. He was very interactive with the audience and I love his solo stuff.
12. Dan Fogelberg. I was a big Fogelberg fan in college. Saw him my sophomore year at the Paramount theater in Portland. Just him, no band. It was a spellbinding evening and a great date.
11. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Saw them with good friends in Dallas. He was a great performer, but this makes the list because Stevie Nicks came out and sang with him.
10. Spoon. I’m a huge Spoon fan. I convinced John Barton to go with me to the Royal Oak Theater. Great performers. A few months later, I met front man Britt Daniel in first class on a flight from Dallas to Portland. We were both carrying guitars. Had my picture taken with him in baggage claim.
9. Over the Rhine. Road trip early in my relationship with Donna. We drove to Grand Rapids to see them at Calvin College. Gave us a lot of time to talk. And they were great.
8. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Just a great band with great songs. St. Andrews Hall in Detroit. Great energy. Great company (Donna).
7. Keb Mo. A friend treated me to this show at The Ark in Ann Arbor. Intimate venue. Just him. Very funny. Great interaction with the audience. Great guitar player and singer.
6. The Blues Brothers. Yes, the actual Blues Brothers. Belushi and Akroyd. Paul Schaefer the band leader. Hollywood Bowl in LA. Went with my brother and two longtime friends. Great show.
5. Eddie Vedder. The Ukulele Tour. Amazing show. Amazing performer. He was there with Glen Hansard who sang on the cd and did a few songs with Vedder, including a great rendition of Hard Sun during the encore. Went with the Pleasant boys (which includes Scott Samuels, but not Garth), who know how to party.
4. Dave Matthews Band/Brandi Carlile. This one is great for the combo. Had seen Brandi before at the Minnesota State Fair, which probably belongs in this list. She opened for DMB at the DTE just north of Rochester. The whole thing was great, especially DMB, but the highlight for me was Dave and Brandi singing, Angel from Montgomery. Another great concert with Donna.
3. U2. Saw them at Soldier Field in Chicago. Largest worship gathering I’ve ever been to. Amazing, amazing performers.
2. Gary Clark, Jr. I know, I know. How does he make the top 2? Well, he’s the best guitar player I’ve ever seen live. Period. And live, he can cut lose. Great performer. Great band. Great blues. Great company. Intimate venue. St. Andrews Hall. We were very close. Again with Donna.
1. Bob Dylan. I was prepared to be disappointed, but he was in rare form. Energetic and engaged. Awesome band. Great venue, Dallas House of Blues. We were close, which also makes for a memorable concert. Great company with other huge Dylan fans.