Live Music and My Desperate Need For It!

My first memories of rock music were on TV.  There were reruns of The Beatles a cartoon made in the 60’s.  Weekly shows like The Monkees, The Partridge Family, The Osmond Brothers Show, and Donny and Marie.  I remember walking around as a little kid singing songs by The Beatles and The Monkees.  Music became part of my life blood and it cared for me when I was blue.  Like most kids growing up, I went to school concerts and events.  In 7th grade, I went on a trip to a Broadway show, Beatlemania, and for the first time, saw live rock music.  It wasn’t the real Beatles, but I had never had the opportunity to see the group perform live, so this was the closest thing I could get, and it was transformative!

In 1983, I saw my first concert at Jones Beach.  My friends and I saw the Stray Cats, and we had fun.  We knew all the songs, we danced around, and just basically had an amazing time.  This was the first time I attended a show at Jones Beach Theater, and it wouldn’t be the last.  Going to the beach, seeing the stars and the moonlight, feeling the warm summer breeze, it’s perfect for rock concerts.  I would return dozens of times to my “Electric Church” and the altar of rock and roll.

I could talk endlessly about concerts by The Who, Jeff Beck, and Sheryl Crow.  But instead, I will do my best to rate the seven greatest concerts I have seen in my 35 years of concert going.

1.       Jeff Beck.  Each time I see him, he just keeps getting better!  The last show I saw at Jones Beach and I was lucky to have my wife there, to see him for the first time.  Guitar set to stun!  Tasty licks, perfect timing, and a long list of amazing songs.  In my mind there is no equal to Jeff Beck, and I could not even start to try and pick a best show.  Every show is the best show!

2.       The Who at Shea Stadium.  My first “Who” show and for me and the last “power” concert for this 60’s classic band.  It was loud, the stage was huge, and the band was on.  The Who had lost something when they lost drummer Keith Moon, but that night they found it one more time.  After that tour, The Who changed.  Pete Townshend called it a cabaret act, but I thought it was a bit more than that.  I stopped seeing The Who - the band they tour with now is not my Who, but I’m glad people are still enjoying the music.

3.       Don Henley. I saw this Eagle’s founding member in 1993 and I was blown away.  The set, the lights, and the music were all theatrical and created a mood I have never seen repeated.  The concert opening featured adobes in the background, a Mexican sunset landscape backdrop, and dancing girls coming out dancing to “Dirty Laundry.”  The crowd at Jones Beach collectively gasped.  They had created a perfect moment and we, those in the audience, appreciated it.  I’m not a big fan of The Eagles or Don Henley, but that night - perfection!

4.       Sheryl Crow at Jones Beach in 1994.  I have been a fan of hers from the very beginning.  I like the music, lyrics, and her beauty.  I was not expecting her to be a musical virtuoso.  I saw her on her first tour and that night on stage she played 8, yes 8, different instruments.  Each song was a gift to us, the audience, and she gave us her all!  I have seen her on subsequent tours, but nothing compared to the energy of her first.  Still, she is one of the best!

5.       Pete Townshend-Psychoderelict tour.  I add this show at Jones Beach, because this was wholly a “Pete Townshend” moment, and not a Who moment.  My wife, Shana, and I went to this concert when we were dating and we were given back stage passes along with 3rd row seats.  Pete was on, Shana was amazed, and I met my rock idol, good night!  Oh, and the concert was amazing too!

6.       David Bowie- Serious Moonlight Tour in 1983.  I was not a Bowie fan, but I was at Syracuse University as a freshman, and we were able to get tickets for cheap.  David Bowie was godlike! He played one instrument after another; we lost count after 6.  The band was tight and the concert atmosphere was electric.  David Bowie was truly one of the greatest rock and rollers of all time.  He showed it that night.

7.       Joe Jackson -Jones Beach in 1989.  There was bad weather in the area and it rained before the concert, but by show time it was clear.  The crew had only set up a bare bones set, only the basics.  Few lights, less gear, the show felt smaller in some way.  Then the band took the stage, and blew the doors off the back of the theater!  Joe Jackson and his band, with little help, rocked the crap out of the house that night.  The musical variety was amazing and the band could play it all, I still rank Joe Jackson as one of music’s greatest rockers.