I briefly considered trying to get tickets to see John Mayer or Lucinda Williams, both playing in the Boston area this weekend, but I decided to pass. Concerts are cool but they are also expensive and a lot of trouble, and I have a lot to do this weekend. This got me thinking about great and not-so-great concerts I have attended in my life. I never was a major concert goer, but I have been lucky enough to attend some great ones over the years. So here's a sort of top 10 list. Some dates are approximate.
10. The Doors, Saratoga, NY, summer 1968 (with my mother! cool but loud and stressful)
9. Violent Femmes, Quebec City, maybe 2003 (yeah, pretty random, but great concert)
8. The Eagles, Pittsburgh, PA, 1973 (I got to interview them backstage for the Pitt News while they ingested some powdery white substance)
7. James Taylor, Tweeter Center (or whatever it was called then), 2004 I think
6. Elton John, Pittsburgh, 1972 (Yellow Brick Road tour)
5. Paul McCartney, Boston, 2002 (the voice as good as ever)
4. Bruce Springsteen, Pittsburgh, 1974 (wild and innocent)
3. John Mayer, several places, 2002-2007 (amazing performer)
2. Rolling Stones with Stevie Wonder, Pittsburgh, 1972 (crazy!)
1. U2, Foxboro Stadium, 1992 (Zoo TV Tour - even crazier!)
Who didn't make the list? Some I remember as good but not amazing include Arlo Guthrie, George Benson, Bob Dylan (Worcester 2002), BNL (twice), The Beach Boys, and Chicago (1973). A few that were disappointing include Led Zeppelin ('73 or '74 in Pittsburgh, people throwing firecrackers into the stadium crowd ruined it for me); Crosby, Stills, and Nash (Pittsburgh '75 or '76, not that good live); and Ringo Starr in 2006 (just OK, but hey, he was in the Beatles).
There are lots of people I wish I had seen - some I maybe still could see if I weren't so lazy about concerts now. Simon & Garfunkel, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, The Police or Sting, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Van Morrison, Dave Matthews, probably more. My biggest "I coulda been there" was Woodstock in 1969 - yes, the Woodstock. I was working in a restaurant in Lake George, NY, the summer before my senior year in high school. Two of the guys I worked with were going to this big outdoor concert in Bethel, NY, just a couple of hours drive south, and they asked me if I wanted to go. It sounded cool, but I needed to work and save more money, and it would have been hard to convince my parents to let me go (but probably not impossible). Guess I blew that one!