LIVETIME

Back when I was in high school, while my friends were heading off to see Peter Frampton or the Rolling Stones at stadium concerts in Philadelphia, I stayed home. In fact, the only times I went to concerts back then were the two times I won tickets in a radio station contest to see Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Chicago.

During college, I went to my first stadium concerts and often attended summer concerts at amphitheaters near Baltimore and Philadelphia.  But after I moved out to Los Angeles and started working for dick clark productions, I really upped my concert going because I was often given free tickets, enabling me to see just about every act I ever wanted to see. So here now is a list of my all-time favorite concerts, followed by my top ten favorite concert moments.

1.  Neil Diamond – The Greek Theater – 1987

In addition to  an amazing list of songs (which you can hear for yourself on the live album, “Hot August Night II”), the thing that impressed me most about Neil’s show was how he gave every single song a special added touch, whether it was a string quartet rising up from under the stage on one song or a laser show to illustrate his “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” medley.

2.  Eagles – The Rose Bowl – 1995

I first saw the Eagles perform back during my college years at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, but this concert beat it, thanks to the inclusion of one of my favorite songs, “One Of These Nights,” in addition to every other hit they ever had.

3.  Bryan Adams – The Forum – 1987

A man, a guitar and one hit after another. Sometimes simple is better.

4.  Bruce Springsteen – L.A. Sports Arena – 2007

There was a time when the closest I got to a Bruce Springsteen concert was a review in Rolling Stone. This was the epic three hour concert I always heard about and towards the end, I was ready to say enough already… until he turned on the lights and brought out the big guns of “Born To Run” and “Rosalita.”

5.  Paul McCartney – The Forum – 1989

An actual Beatle doing Beatles songs, plus the best of Wings. Unforgettable!

6.  Barry Manilow – Astor Theater (Reading, PA) – 1976

My first Barry show, with the set list from “Barry Manilow Live.”

7.  Rick Springfield – Universal Amphitheater – 2004

I saw Rick a few times in his eighties heyday, but the fact he still plays every one of his hits and puts his all into every single one made this more recent concert especially memorable.

8.  The Doobie Brothers – Maui Hawaii – 1981

I went on a post-graduation trip after college to Hawaii. While in Maui, the Doobie Brothers were playing a concert on the neighboring hotel’s tennis court. I don’t think I’ve ever been closer to the stage.

9.  Chicago – Universal Amphitheater – 1986

Bouncing back from the loss of Peter Cetera, Chicago went out on the concert trail without an opening act, doing a three hour “Evening With Chicago” that was terrific.

10.  Simon & Garfunkel – MGM Grand Garden -2003

Perhaps the last chance to see a classic duo reunited doing all their great songs.

THE GREATEST CONCERT MOMENTS:

1.  Maria McKee and Lone Justice singing “Wheels” – The Palace – 1986

Back in the eighties, the alternative papers in L.A. praised the work of cowpunk band Lone Justice. I got on the bandwagon early, catching the band at a local club before they even had a record out and immediately falling in love with the voice and charisma of singer Maria McKee. I’ve never seen an artist give as passionate a performance as Maria, and she was never more emotional than when she sang the ballad “Wheels.” In fact, the only way she could have showed any more emotion is if she had actually ripped her heart out on the stage.

2.  Paul McCartney singing “Hey Jude” – The Forum – 1989

The closest I’ll ever get to seeing The Beatles. I can still hear the entire Forum singing “La la la la la la la”…

3.  The men’s restroom during intermission at a Gloria Estefan concert – The Greek Theater – 1988

So I walk into the men’s room to do my business when a guy inside one of the stalls sings, “Oh eh oh eh” and every guy in the place answered with “Oh eh oh eh ah!”

4.  Paul Young singing “Everything Must Change” – The Wiltern – 1985

A great concert by Paul Young, fresh off “Every Time You Go Away.” The highlight came when Paul climbed up into the lighting equipment. No harness, no ladder, no net.

5.  Utopia’s encore – Merriweather Post Pavilion – 1977

I’ve been a big Todd Rundgren fan since high school, so I attended this concert based around the “Ra” album. The stage set was overwhelming, featuring a huge sphinx and laser lights, but what I’ll always remember is after the last song, the lights came on and some janitors came out to sweep up the stage. Then the janitors peeled off their uniforms and revealed themselves to be the band ready to rock out on the encore! What a great surprise!

6.  Collin Raye singing “Love, Me” – Orange County Fair – 2002

My first chance to see one of my all-time favorite singers. Naturally this was his last song of the evening, and he let the audience do most of the work. A very beautiful moment.

7.  Elton John singing “Empty Garden” – Merriweather Post Pavilion (Columbia, MD) – 1982

The lyrics to this tribute to John Lennon include the words, “Now we pray for rain and with every drop that falls, we hear your name.” Wouldn’t you know that just at the moment Elton sang those words, it started raining?

8.  Lisa Tucker singing “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” at “American Idols Live” – Staples Center – 2006

Every time I’ve attended one of the “American Idols” concerts, I always come away impressed by a singer or two who wasn’t all that good on the show but somehow shines on the concert stage. Lisa’s performance of this Elton John classic is the best example. She left the audience stunned by her talent.

9.  Billy Joel’s introduction to “The Entertainer” – Lehigh University (Allentown, PA) – 1974

I’ll always remember that the audience brought back Billy for so many encores, he was forced to play the instrumental “Root Beer Rag” a second time. But the most memorable moment came when Billy played the intro to Elton John’s “Bennie And The Jets,” muttered how he’d never turn into that kind of star and then played “The Entertainer.” Little did Billy know that someday he’d be just as big as Elton…

10.  Vince Gill – Irvine Meadows Amphitheater – 1994

Both opener Trisha Yearwood and Vince gave great performances, but the highlight was when Vince brought a fan out of the audience to propose to his girlfriend. She said yes, and was rewarded with Vince serenading them.

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