14 June 2010

Music, music, music

(Today's writing prompt: "What are the five best bands you've seen play live?" No, I totally did not make this up, no matter how apropos it is. You can check NaBloPoMo if you don't believe me.)

1) Rush. Without a doubt. I've seen them somewhere between 25 and 30 times, and hands down, they put on one of the most fun shows ever. I've often heard it said that it's amazing 3 men can make that much noise (and extremely intricate noise at that), but to watch them actually play is to be completely blown away. Especially since they often seem not to be paying that much attention to the actual playing. And they are playing perfectly some perfectly complicated stuff. And I'm not even a musician. There are lights. And lasers. And video. And pyro. And lots of goofy, sometimes charming and frequently self-deprecating humor. Not to mention music that lends itself being played live like almost no other music I've heard. Picking a favorite song is like picking a favorite child...but "Natural Science?" Be still my beating heart. Two weeks. HAH!

2) REM. The band I've seen second most often. I haven't seen them for a long time because they started getting more overtly political (I don't like being pummeled), and then Bill Berry left, and it wasn't the same. But back in their early years, they were fun, the music was...different but interesting, and the shows were loose to the point where you never knew who might show up on stage, or what cover they might do. Sort of the polar opposite to Rush in that regard, but it completely suited REM. "Life and How to Live It" at Radio City Music Hall was one of those game-changing moments.

3) Porcupine Tree. I saw them last fall at Club Nokia, which was tiny and sort of odd, but the sound was crystal. And Porcupine Tree does a really high energy show of prog metal/hard rock/whatever you want to class them as. I've been a fan for a number of years, but this was the first time I'd seen them live. Better than excellent. I'd love to see them again: come back! come back! (Trying to figure out how on earth I could get to their RCMH show, except that it's sandwiched between two other concerts at opposite ends of the states about 3 days apart, one of which I already have tickets for.) "Trains." I still get goosebumps at the memory.

4) U2 and The Police. This is how I sneak an extra band in. I saw U2 on the Joshua Tree tour, and they were a force. I saw The Police on the Synchronicity tour, and they were a force. I tend to think of these two tours as complementary although they took place several years apart, in part because U2 was coming of age as The Police were coming apart. But both concerts were very memorable, and both bands were a force in similar fashion. U2: "Pride (In the Name of Love)" rang in the rafters. Police: "Message in a Bottle."

5) Coldplay. Yeah. Coldplay. The daughter was desperate to see them last summer, so we went, and it was a hugely enjoyable, well-staged and completely good-natured show. Where Rush doesn't get nearly the respect they deserve for their incredibly musicianship or their music, Coldplay doesn't get the respect they deserve for their quite solid musicianship and frequently complex compositions. They've been branded pop darlings, which is great for their bottom line, but I think does them a bit of a disservice, having seen plenty of pop darlings in my day who were far less talented. And yes, Viva La Vida might well be one of the most overplayed albums in history. I don't even listen to the radio and I heard "Violet Hill" in Iceland. But "Lovers in Japan" was stellar. (Okay, I would have liked the full-band full version of "Talk.")

Purely subjective. I like what I like. And I'm sure I've overlooked someone who was deserving of inclusion.

Go listen to some music: "Music, Music, Music" recorded by Teresa Brewer. I'm reading with no small amusement that some radio stations thought this version could be indecent. We sang it in our Catholic school choral group as part of a performance. I don't remember anyone complaining.

1 comment:

Deb said...

I think those anti-Brewer radio people have been listening to too much Dresden Dolls.